Do you feel stuck in your fitness journey, hitting those stubborn plateaus that seem impossible to overcome? You’re not alone. We’ve all been there, and it can be incredibly frustrating, especially in a world overflowing with conflicting health and fitness advice.
In today’s episode, Ted sits down with Dr. Allan Bacon, a seasoned expert in fitness and nutrition, to tackle these challenges head-on. Together, they’ll delve into the world of health and fitness advice, dissecting the impact of social media sensationalism.
Dr. Allan will unveil invaluable strategies to help you break through plateaus and keep that motivation burning on your fitness journey. He will also discuss the role of calorie tracking, the impact of medications on weight loss, and the potential benefits of weight loss medications when used as an adjunct to a healthy lifestyle. Listen now!
Dr. Allan Bacon
Dr. Allan Bacon is an accomplished expert in fitness and nutrition. He is a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, a certified physique & bodybuilding coach, a certified nutritionist and a certified coach for USA Powerlifting.
He has been formulating supplements for leading companies since 2009, and you can find his fitness articles in Muscle & Fitness, Sci-Fit, and The Personal Trainer Development Center.
Through the use of personalized fitness and nutrition programming, he specializes in helping working adults master their physique and performance. Dr. Allan coaches athletes and busy professionals in both nutrition and weight training, from the average Joe to Arnold Classic competitors to American record holding weightlifters.
Connect to Dr. Allan Bacon
- Strategies for discerning reliable health and fitness information amidst the noise on social media
- Practical tips for setting and achieving sustainable fitness goals
- The role of mindset and psychology in maintaining a healthy lifestyle
- The potential benefits and limitations of various weight loss medications
- Insights into the importance of personalized approaches to diet and exercise
- Strategies for overcoming plateaus and staying motivated on your fitness journey
- The significance of seeking professional guidance and not relying solely on internet advice for your health and fitness goals
- Realistic expectations for progress and transformations in health and fitness
- And much more…
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Podcast Transcription: Unlocking Your Fitness Potential: Strategies To Overcoming Plateaus And Achieving Sustainable Fat Loss Results with Dr. Allan Bacon
Ted: Allan Bacon, thanks so much for coming on the show today.
Allan: Thanks for having me on, Ted. Happy to be here.
Ted: Yeah, man. As I was telling you earlier, I found you on Instagram somehow, and I really enjoyed the message you were putting out because it's similar, like we talked about. We have similar messages, but we say it in a different way. And I love the topic that we're going to get into today, which is busting through plateaus. But before we get into that, you know, we are having this conversation about the message you put out, the message I put out, and it's good that more people do it. And why do you think that is?
Allan: So, I think that social media has brought us a lot of pluses and minuses. And, you know, I think that a lot of the things that gain traction are some of the more nonsensical or inflammatory types of takes, right? Because you're going to get people that agree with those takes, and you're going to get people that disagree with those takes. And both of those crowds are going to be sharing that.
Now, the really funny thing about health and fitness is a lot of times the boring or the mundane is the right path. It's almost like it's simpler than people want it to be. And I think that the proper message that people can take home from things gets diluted in social media a lot of the time because the real answers are often boring.
And I think that the people that are out there trying to do it the right way have a little bit more of a challenge of getting those messages out there because if you're consistently pushing things that people almost in the back of their mind already know that they need to be doing, it gets kind of lost in those messages, whereas those hyperbolic or inflammatory types of messages gain attention.
And so I like seeing people like you that put out similar information to myself, but maybe in a different way because if we can get these out, reinforce each other's messages, and then maybe attack it from different angles, you can help a lot more people.
But, you know, I think that fitness and health are very interesting because in my mind, the simplest way or the most reductionist way to break it down is master the basics. If you master the basics, you tend to be very, very successful in what you're going to do. And if you look at the most successful people, the people that tend to be healthier, the people that tend to perform the best, they focus on the consistency in mastering the basics over time without loss of enthusiasm.
And I think that type of message is more difficult to get out there because people think, oh, well, what's the secret? And there is nuance. And we're going to get into a lot of that nuance today, which is why I really like this topic as well, because it's something that's extremely practical and people can take home and put to use today. But if you ask a person, in your situation, you're facing a challenge, what would a healthy person do?
I think a lot of the times people know a pretty good answer and actually a pretty reliable and logical answer on how to handle things. And I think that they second guess themselves a lot because of social media.
I think that there's so much noise out there, it can become confusing and literally cutting through that and getting people down to the bare bones, this is what's important is what can serve people the best. And I think that you're pretty good at getting that kind of stuff out.
Ted: Yeah, as are you, Alan, and I want to continue with this a little bit because I think it might be helpful for people listening. What are some of the, so as you said, I'll give an example like this.
I was on Twitter the other day, which is where I spend most of my time even though you and I connected through Instagram, and I saw a video that went viral, and it was "What I eat in a day as a carnivore." And to your point, the people who are carnivores retweeted it, the people who hate the carnivore diet and the carnivore crowd retweeted it, and it...
Allan: So, you get the carnivore crowd retweeting, you get the middle of the ground retweeting, and then you get the vegans retweeting it going, "Look at this nonsense."
Ted: Exactly. And the guy was eating, he was new to the diet, and he was eating a raw testicle pop like a lollipop but had a raw testicle on it. So not only did the guy look kind of, he did not look healthy. He was just, I think anybody doing that type of extreme approach, I think there's, in my, I've been in the business for 24 years, Allan, and I'd love to have your thoughts on this too, but I think that it's an expression of someone's emotional health or manifestation of someone's emotional health, how extreme either because... I don't know anything about the guy, but I know two things. One, he's either doing that because he feels like he needs to be super extreme to be healthy, which is not true.
Or he's doing that for attention on social media, which is also not a healthy thing to do. I mean, I'll do a lot of things on social media, but eating raw testicle pops... that's an all new level of… commitment to get attention.
Allan: I I think that it's a little bit of both, you know? I think that people do this for attention. And I think they do it because when they get that attention, social media can become an echo chamber, right? And it's the same reason that like a lot of these nonsense things take off is because everybody that also has that tendency tends to get in there, and then they'll comment in the comment section. And they'll reinforce that way of thinking.
And then it'll make him feel good because he's getting attention, and then he'll get reinforcement for these ideas because these people are all telling him that it's right. And crowd mentality is a very powerful thing. Now for me, I view this very similarly to how you do in that I'm a, I realize that we're omnivores. And both sides of the aisle have a tendency to be ridiculous.
Like if you've seen Game Changers where they talk about the vegan side of things, that's total nonsense. I mean if you actually start to look into the research that they were citing for that, it was so poorly done or just completely misinterpreted. The other side of things, carnivore is complete nonsense at the same time. You're not going to get in the best health of your life. I mean I think that anybody that tells you that you shouldn't be eating fruits and vegetables probably has a little bit of an issue understanding some of the nuance of biology and nutritional science. You know, and so
If you look at the research, I mean, it is far and away in support of a smart omnivore-type diet. Should we be including fruits and vegetables in our daily diet? Yes. Should we be fear-mongering red meats? No, we probably shouldn't. In fact, there's a lot of healthy benefits coming from these things. You know, and the nuance of the research is what's really important here. And I think that, again, what I, what people find really boring is when you have kind of this moderated approach to saying, why don't we have a good variety of all these things, you know, stick to whole, minimally processed foods for the majority of your intake. Can you have some sugar sweetened things? Yeah. In moderation and moderation is different for everybody, but should we be getting lean meat, should we be getting fruits and vegetables? Should we be getting whole grains? Yeah, I mean, we should probably be getting a good variety of all of these things. And when you get to a type of diet that says you can't eat this type of food, and particularly when a food is a whole minimally processed food in there, fear-mongering a whole minimally processed food that should throw up some red flags.
But I think, to your point, a lot of this happens because you gain notoriety online for having these stances. It supports you monetarily. And even in some of the most respected guys in the fitness and health field, I've seen some fallacies that have been pushed because it's monetarily expedient to do that.
Ted: Can you give an example? I mean, you don't have to name the name, but can you give an example just so people know what you're talking about?
Allan: Sure, sure. So, I don't know what your specific feelings are on, say, BCAA supplements.
Ted: Right. They don't work, according to the,
Allan: do you have any strong feelings on them?
Ted: it's better to have protein or essential amino acids based on the best research. But they just don't work unless you're not getting enough protein. But I don't, but it's not an emotional sort of thing. I just looked at the data.
Allan: Okay, so I don't want to step on toes in a lot of these situations, but this is a good example. So BCAAs, it's funny because logically you would think okay, well these have to be just beneficial because proteins made of amino acids and this is a great thing and we can point to a lot of benefits of these because when they're contained in whole proteins, they're very beneficial in the complement of all the other amino acids and everything like that.
Now, this hit the scene really hardcore in the early 2000s, and you know, the data that we had at the time didn't really give us any insight into, okay, well, when and how could these work? And are there any negatives?
We just had some very minimal data on, they did two, there were two kind of seminal studies. And there was one where it was working with wrestlers who were completely starving themselves to make weight, and they gave themselves some BCAAs, and it seemed to increase recovery.
And then there was another where they put mice in a pool, they starve these mice, they put them in a pool, and the ones that were given BCAAs, were able to tread water longer. And so this kind of blew up BCAAs. And then there were a bunch of researchers that started to go into this, and they're like, oh my God, let's do this.
Let's sell these supplements. You know, it's amazing. And then five, 10 years into the whole BCAA, let's call it a panic. We started getting research back that showed that even with minimal amounts of daily protein, not even the optimal amounts for increasing performance or physique, there's a study where they did 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight in the elderly who have impaired protein absorption anyways.
And it was still negating all of the benefits of BCAAs. And this was 2008 maybe. And so, we're more than 10 years outside of this. There are researchers that I know are a lot smarter than what they were giving themselves credit for, but they were working for supplement companies. And they were still pushing this despite the fact that we had we started to get mountains and mountains and mountains of research that showed that these don't really do anything.
And then in the middle of the beginning in middle of the 2010s, we started getting more research that, okay, maybe they are providing competitive absorption problems. Because if you're only taking in three different aminos, you only have so many transporters to be able to absorb aminos, maybe it's blocking the absorption of some of the other ones that you need the full complement to repair muscles, you need the full complement to, you know, build hormone signalers, you need the full complement to help the immune system.
And so now we're absorbing a flood of just these three, and we're missing out on the others. And so, our body's not working as efficiently. Then in 2017, Wolf came out with a study and what Wolf in 2017 found was the one time that most people were saying you should be taking BCAAs when you're fasted may actually cause problems.
They show that there might be a little bit of an uptick in the muscle protein synthesis, which is what people were going for, but it also seemed to cause an even bigger uptick in muscle protein breakdown. So, when you're fasted, there's the potential that having BCAs may actually cause more muscle protein breakdown and actually cause you to lose more muscle.
And so, we started to get all of this information. And yet we're seeing these guys who are still today considered some of the most reliable guys on the internet. And they were telling everybody, no, keep buying these products. They're great. Look at these studies.
And they would point back to the ones where, you know, that they were either starving and then this made them increase performance because why wouldn't it have calories? You know, they don't have to list calories on a BCAA supplement because when free-form aminos are out there legally, according to the FDA, you don't have to list calories, but they all contain calories. They contain 4.65 calories per gram and what helps you perform, you know, exercise?
Having calories, it's energy and so we, you know, people kept making these excuses to continue taking it, but you're like, well, if you're looking for an energy source, then carbs are more readily utilized. So why not just have a Gatorade?
No, no, buy our BCAAs because, you know, and so the problem was this research kept picking up more and more and more showing that this is a problematic thing potentially with no real benefits. And in fact, in the situations where it would help, probably better to just take carbs.
But when money's in play, and this can be for anything in fitness and health, you have to be a little bit critical of the information that's out there and say, okay, well, I see that this study that's being presented, but what is the rest of the breadth of evidence? And what is that saying?
And social media is a crazy thing because getting that like count, getting that share count, getting those hits that essentially translate into income seems to be the driving force in a lot of this.
That's a very long way to answer that question, probably technical. But you know, it's, it's scary to see this stuff done because for the listeners, as a person that's listening to this type of thing, and your life does not revolve around reading, you know, fitness and health research, because why would it? How are you supposed to understand who's reliable? And it's a very challenging thing with social media.
Ted: Well, and there is no way really because even if someone has an MD after their name or PhD after their name, there's a lot of people, the carnivore doctor.
Allan: Well, the guys that I'm thinking of have PhD after their name and they were the ones that were still pushing it despite the fact that I guarantee you they knew better.
Ted: Yeah, and you're bringing up so many great points here. And we're someone I forget who made it, but it's like we're no longer in the information age. We're just there's the information just keeps going out, but it's no longer that useful. It's like we're in the reputation age.
It's like, we need the perspective, you need to find the people who you trust and listen to, and just ignore everyone else, or at least, you know, keep them on the periphery because you can go down some very deep rabbit holes that don't lead to any meaningful positive change in your life.
Another thing that came up for me is I was actually looking into supplements and having a supplement, and I contacted a manufacturer, and he was trying to sell me on the idea of a CLA supplement because I was, you know, I'm all about like let's put something together with the protein and creatine, and you know, but he was all about the CLA, and it's just because it sells. BCAAs, they sell. And until the market changes,
Allan: It does. Fat burners, fat burners, they sell.
Ted: exactly, fat burners, they sell. Who are they selling to? The type of people, hopefully, they're not listening to this show. But because they should know better if you've listened to a few episodes of this. One more thing I want to point out, Alan.
I want to point out that you even felt the need to ask me about my personal stance on BCAAs just to make sure that because we don't know each other, this is the first time we're talking, just to make sure this whole podcast didn't turn into like,
Allan: didn't derail.
Ted: exactly. That's the state of the industry that we're in between people who are actually in the industry. I could only imagine what it's like being on the outside, just like, hey, I want to lose some weight, man. Just trying to get a little healthier. And you guys are trying to kill each other over, does cholesterol, right? Yeah, so many things. I want to trans, you got something to say, something to add there? Yeah, it's just, yeah. Something that doesn't matter.
Allan: Well, it's difficult because like we said, how do you, how do you identify who you're listening to is the right person to listen to, and certainly having things like PhD after your name can be a good thing. Is it necessarily a good thing? No, unfortunately, the letters don't really don't really tell you a whole lot.
I mean, even registered dietitians can be problematic when talking with them about and this isn't this isn't a slight against registered dietitians. This is a slight against the fact that we can't rely on those those acronyms after a name as a sign of credibility. You know, there's it's just the reality,
Ted: Not by itself, right? Not by itself.
Allan: not by itself. Now, it can be a good first Okay, is this something that I should look into? And it can be that because at least if somebody has a PhD, an MD, something like that, they've probably had some formal training on being able to understand the body or read research. And that's a good starting point. But then it's okay, well, where are they going with that?
Ted: Buy my BCAA supplement. Yeah, I think we're off to a good start. So, let's dial in then, before we get to the plateaus, let's dial in like, why do you think it is so besides what we talked about, the misinformation, the infobesity, as some people call it? Why are people when they know what to do, some of the examples you gave earlier in your experience as a coach, why are they having so many challenges implementing it in your experience with your clients?
Allan: I think that they know the broad strokes. I think that the problem comes in some of the nuance and some of the application of those broad strokes. And I think that there's parts of it where it's a situation where people don't know what they don't know.
And so, they know in a lot of instances, okay, the basis for weight change is energy balance, right? If you're taking in fewer calories than you're putting out, you're going to, sorry if you're taking in more calories than you're putting out, you're going to gain weight, and the opposite you're going to lose weight, right?
So, it all comes down to energy balance, but I think that people can lose the forest for the trees trying to figure out how to do that, how to track whether they're doing that correctly, understanding how to really put that into place.
So they know that they need to eat better. You've probably heard this with your clients before too. I eat clean, but I can't lose weight. Well, what does eating clean mean? I think that some of these little nuances to amounts and different types of food and actually pushing fiber and the macros aren't the only thing that necessarily matter in a fitness journey.
From a weight loss change, but from overall health, satiety, all these different things add in. And, and I think that the broad strokes are pretty well understood for most people. But I think that actually putting that into play and then understanding what pitfalls they may run into may not be.
And, and that's what I want to touch on today, actually illuminating some of these pitfalls that one you can run into, being able to identify where you're running and address those problems, and then actually finally moving forward.
Ted: So, let's get into it. What do we need to know about the plateaus, the obstacles?
Allan: So, so plateaus will come in two forms. It'll be either a nutrition or fitness plateau. And both are important. So, let's cover nutrition first, then we'll transition into fitness.
As I mentioned, the biggest thing for diets working, whether they work or not for weight loss or weight gain, it's going to come down to energy balance. And as long as protein and calories are equated between diets, you're going to see roughly the same results.
Now, protein is important because if you don't equate protein between diets, you're going to have differences in lean muscle loss. If you're losing weight, you're going to have differences in lean muscle gain when you're gaining weight. But I point this out to show that for the most part, fats and carbs are relatively interchangeable for weight loss and weight gain.
Now, that doesn't mean that you're going to have the exact same performance depending on what you're doing as exercise, but weight loss and weight gain tends to be the same.
Now, I think the one thing that's extremely important to address is that average resting metabolic rates are probably lower than what people think.
For men, it's only about 1700 calories per day. For women, it's 1400. Now that's resting metabolic rates. Our total calorie burn is going to be higher because of the movement that we have throughout the day through exercise, all that kind of stuff.
But when certain women, especially sedentary women, start working with me and they're like, you know, I've been told that if I eat 1200 calories or less, then there's something wrong with my diet or I'm going to... it's unhealthy.
But how big are you? You know, I've worked with four-foot-ten females. And if an average female's resting metabolic rate is 1400, there's probably around 1200 or so. And so, if they're not moving a whole lot, maybe their daily energy output is 1500 calories, which means if they need to go into a calorie deficit, they're actually down at 1100.
So, I want to point that out because I think that a lot of people, particularly smaller women, can get frustrated because they'll hear that comment, Oh, if you're at 1200, and I don't know why it's always 1200, but it does appear to always be 1200.
Ted: It is just on the internet, you know, it's what is it? It's it's like 1800 from or what is it 2000 something for men, but it's 1200 for women. Like we all just know that.
Allan: Yeah, and nobody knows why they know that. And so that's why I wanted to point out, you know, just because you're at 1200, it could be wrong. And maybe it is for particularly larger people or active people. But it may not be wrong for you.
But I want to point this out because this is a good idea to point out the fact that starvation mode, the idea that you can eat so few calories that you stop losing fat, it doesn't exist.
And we have a lot of low-calorie diet research that debunks this. But what does happen is something called metabolic adaptation. And that's important to understand because if you can understand this, this can get you past a lot of those plateaus before they even begin because you understand what's happening with your body.
Now, when you start to lose weight, your body is going to require fewer calories. The idea behind starvation mode is that somehow that resting metabolic rate that was what, 1700 for men, 1400 for women, drops precipitously beyond what it should be; it just doesn't seem to happen. And we have a lot of research looking at that. You know, in the average RMR drop, it does drop a little bit beyond what it should. So if you go from 180 pounds to 160, if you compare yourself to another person that's been 160 pounds their whole life, your RMR is going to be slightly different.
Probably a little depressed, but that... It can be. But the average for 20 to 30 pounds of weight loss is between 5 and 25 calories per day. So, let's put that in perspective. Is a quarter of a fun-sized Snickers bar the thing that's keeping you from losing weight in a day? Probably not.
And so that's why I want to bring up that there is an RMR drop. But it's so low to be, or it can be, right? It's not all the time; it can be inconsequential. And I mean even in the Minnesota starvation experiments, you remember those from the 50s? I mean, this is the best evidence that we have on massive weight loss. They lost 25% of their entire body weight. And the metabolic drop that they had was between 75 and 100 calories per day. Once you adjust for the differences in body size.
Because obviously if you start at 300 pounds and you go down to 180 pounds, the 180-pound person is going to require less. So cut off all the difference in change from, from a change in body weight and then look at that compared to another person that's been 180 pounds their entire life.
You have a drop of maybe 75 to a hundred calories per day, but that's in people that have lost, that have lost a massive amount of weight, which is not the majority of people. But even then, that's a single fun-size Snickers bar a day.
So, is this the issue that we're having with nutrition? No, it's probably not. So, with metabolic adaptation, what really ends up happening that can stall us a bit is NEAT drops, which is the fancy acronym for the movement that we experience throughout the day or twitching or walking, the energy that we put out at work, that tends to drop. And then our hunger drive goes up. So, what tends to happen to these people is they become subconsciously more sedentary and they start snacking more. And so, these are the really big things that you have to look out for.
Ted: and it's unconscious, right? So people think there's no change, but they're snacking more, right? They don't notice it. This is really hard to communicate sometimes to someone who's experiencing that.
Allan: It is, and I mean the only thing that you can really do to help counterbalance this is to start monitoring things. And so, you know people have an understanding of the of monitoring food, keeping a food diary, you know, maybe tracking macros or whatever method that you choose to track. But I think a lot of people have issues. With figuring out ways to track NEAT because it's difficult. I mean, how do you track twitching or everything that you do, and you've probably yeah as I'm slouching right now.
Ted: or your posture, right?
Allan: But you know, the best thing that I found in what I work with my clients is that I have them wear a pedometer anytime they're not working out not actively working out. And that gives us a proxy for what NEAT might be because if they're sitting on the couch versus if they're walking around, we can get a good idea.
And the idea here isn't necessarily to say, Okay, well, we need to see an exact number of steps. It's to say, Okay, well, when you started out, we started monitoring this when you were 190 pounds, 190-pound female, we started monitoring this and you were getting 7,000 steps a day. Now you're 145 pounds, you're only getting 3,500 steps a day.
Did you realize this? And so all of a sudden, they're like, well, you know, I'm eating, I'm eating slightly less, but now I'm stalling weight or I'm going up in weight. Well, we have an idea now to be able to look at, okay, well, this might be why because you've cut your steps in half; you're burning a lot less from your daily activity movements. And I think that people underestimate.
Ted: Can you talk a little bit more about this, Allan? Because I think also one thing people, a mistake I made and a mistake I see people making is they think the massive amount of calories I'm burning in my exercise, that's what really matters versus, you know, getting a few thousand steps in per day. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Allan: This is a beautiful comment. It's a beautiful question. And it's beautiful because and I know that you know where I'm going with this, but it's very, very good to clarify, you know, and a workout that's pretty intensive from a weights perspective, like a weight training workout. You're not going to burn that many calories, maybe 250, maybe 300 in an hour. And that's with an intense workout. And with step count, with NEAT, they've seen upwards of 2000 extra calories per day in like agricultural jobs.
And so, calorie burn seems to be less about intensity. Yes, intensity does increase calorie burn, but there's diminishing returns on what intensity does. Now, fatigue and perceived fatigue continue to go up.
So, you think, oh, I'm working a lot harder, I must be burning a lot more calories. It doesn't necessarily work that way in a I'm trying to change my energy balance equation to lose body fat you know, it's more about volume than anything else.
Now, why is that? Because movement tends to burn more calories, the more intense movements, and particularly movements with weight training, which is anaerobic, tend to burn fewer calories. And, you know, the more intense that you are, the less volume that you can put in.
I mean, if you're going to be doing wind sprints, you're going to be going for maybe 5, 10, 15 minutes, whereas you can walk for 45 minutes you know, just steady burn tends to burn a lot more calories.
And what's really confusing about this, and this is one of the things that I was going to get into a little bit later, but fits in nicely here, a lot of people are overestimating their energy output because they'll wear something like one of those watches that estimates calorie burn.
And the problem with that is they have been shown in studies, and I can get anybody these this research if you want to ask Teteri at the end, these watches have overestimated calorie burn by up to 93%. And so up to 93%. Yeah. And so, or it's 92. Please don't be mad if it's between those two, but I can prove above 90.
But, but the fact that they can be off by this much, it tells me exactly why I get into arguments online. And you know, these days I've, I've done it so long that I just sit back, and I'm like, okay, well, where are you getting these numbers?
Because someone will tell me, oh, I did an hour workout yesterday, and I burned 800 calories. And I was like, did you just finish a full marathon? You know, in that time period, did you break world records on marathons? And they're like, no, I did a weight training workout. You didn't burn 800 calories. You know, there's no possible way that you did.
And, and a lot of the reason is people are convinced that these trackers work when in reality, they don't at all in their guesstimate of a guesstimate because what they do is they use either heart rate itself or heart rate variability.
And neither of these things actually measure calorie burn. What you have to do is something called indirect calorimetry, which means if you don't have a mask attached to your face that's measuring the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, nobody can tell you how many calories that you've burned, but people believe that because, you know, Apple sells a product that does it, that it somehow has to be real. And so, you know, it, there's...
Ted: Exactly. It tells me how many calories it I mean they're not just making the numbers up, are they? Well, yeah, they are.
Allan: The problem is they are just making the numbers up. And I don't think that people realize that like there's no government agency that's saying this is really messed up, it doesn't work, so you can't do this. Like nobody's policing this. And they know that these devices sell. I mean, people love these things.
People love, you know, Fitbits for this type of information. They love these things that are sleep trackers for this type of information. And none of these things work because unfortunately, they're following heart rate and heart rate variability. And those aren't direct measures, you know, with sleep trackers, they have real issues following certain stages of sleep, like REM sleep can't be picked up by sleep trackers. So, they try to guess.
And, and again, the only way that you can figure that out is to put electrodes on your body, you know, to actually monitor electrical signals. And so, you know, there's a reason that these things are never used in research because they just don't really work.
I like that people are taking an active stance in their health because they want to be able to figure out what's going on here. But it's good to know these pitfalls. And this is the type of thing that we were talking about in the beginning, people know the broad strokes, I need to lose calories. But then they're assuming that they're losing 800 calories in their workout when they're probably losing 300.
And now all of their planning is thrown off because they're now they are now taking in 500 more calories than I think per day. And that's actually the average for people. If you look at the research, the average error in tracking calories is 500 calories per day for non-registered dieticians who tend to be better. They tend to be at about 200. But if somebody whose entire job is doing this, and they're off by 200 calories per day, you know, the average person, the average for them is 500.
Typically, in the obese, and this is potentially one of the reasons why there may be some obesity in play because you know the ability to understand how much you're eating may be a little bit off, hunger cues may be a little bit off, you know, there's a lot of stuff that comes into play that gives some extra challenges to the obese they've been shown to be off by 1100 calories per day.
So, you're eating, you know, half of the amount of an entire other human per day that you don't realize that you're eating. No wonder people are struggling to do this type of thing. You know, so there's four main things to look into before you assume that you're that you're actually stalled with nutrition and that's, you know, you may have an inaccurate calorie intake.
You know, and when you eat out at restaurants, it's good to know that on average, a restaurant's off by about 20% in their calories. If you go to McDonald's, and on their menu, it says, you know, this burger is 500 calories at 20% of that, you know, and, and if you're not preparing the food yourself, you're probably going to have some inaccuracy in these things.
But even those can be incredibly surprising to people because there's been research that's looked at full meals at restaurants. And when you have a full meal and you have a side, sometimes they're off by 245%. And I think that it blows people's minds to realize how much these can be off.
So, another thing that you looked into overestimating your activity, like we talked about, you might be confusing weight loss for fat loss. You know, when you start out, you lose a ton of weight from say, you're cutting carbs, you lose the muscle glycogen and the water from that. And then all of a sudden starts to slow down, and you're like, oh, I'm plateaued. But in reality, you're just now seeing what the actual rate of fat loss is because you flushed out that water and muscle glycogen.
You know, only after checking out those things, the accuracy of your tracking, making sure you're not overestimating calorie burn, you know, making sure you're not being confused with weight loss and fat loss, only then should you start to look at things like, okay, well, is medication that I'm taking like an antidepressant or corticosteroid causing problems?
Do I have diabetes medication that might be causing issues? Anxiolytics? You know, there's a ton of meds that could be adding in, but it's not the first thing that I would jump to.
Ted: Talk about that a little bit. When you say a medication can be affecting weight loss, what do you mean specifically about that just so someone doesn't come away with oh calories matter, but not if you're taking these medications.
Allan: So, they still they still matter but what it but what it ends up doing is it shifts that energy balance. And so, you are a normal person without taking the medication. And obviously, this doesn't affect everybody the same way. And it doesn't necessarily affect everybody if they're taking this medication. You know one person taking anti-psychotics might not see this. Another person taking anti-psychotics might.
If you are not taking the anti-psychotics, there is a feasible situation in which case you might require 2000 calories to maintain weight. Let's just throw out a random number. You might require 2000 calories to maintain weight. You start taking this medication. It might cause some issues with the way that you absorb food, with the way that your thyroid functions, with the way that some of these other biological systems function. And now, instead of needing 2000 calories to maintain weight, you now only need 1700, so you start to gain body fat.
Ted: and what changes specifically there to lower...
Allan: There could be a variety of reasons. It could be insulin resistance coming into play. There could be impacts on thyroid function. T4, T3 might be affected.
Ted: And this is specifically for the antipsychotics or for all the medications that you talked about.
Allan: all the medications that I've talked about, there's a variety of medications that can cause this. And even with things like corticosteroids, that could cause issues with hormones in general. I mean, it can cause issues with testosterone and estrogen. It might cause issues with holding water.
I mean, you've probably heard of people who have been on corticosteroids for long periods of time getting really bloated. And then all of a sudden, the scale starts to rise and it may not really have anything to do specifically with your calorie intakes, but it may be affected by the fact that you're now bloating and holding water because of a medication that is, you know, either interacting with your system a little bit poorly or maybe you're taking too high of a dose for too long.
Ted: Yeah, let's talk about this a little bit more Alan, because I feel like this is one of the situations where we actually had a client who is on an anti, it was an SSRI. If I remember correctly, and she was struggling with losing weight and we didn't have the medication conversation she, we you know, we did, we didn't get into it.
She was part of my group, not a one-on-one client. And she was trying so hard to lose weight. And we just kept, hey, listen, she was going off and going out to eat a lot and taking vacations and not tracking over the weekend sometimes.
Allan: And that's why I touched on that. That's probably the more likely issue. Now that doesn't mean that medications can't cause some challenges there because another issue that you might have with certain medications is there might be an increase in hunger drive.
And so remember when we were talking about maybe you're inaccurately tracking. Then there's more of an issue with people snacking more without realizing, you know, I'm just going to have a handful of trail mix.
And then not even realizing that they're doing that. And so, are medications the main reason that people are stalling? No, probably not. If you do think that it's a medication that might be causing a problem, I would bring that up to, you know, your healthcare practitioner that's bringing this up.
The appropriate way to look at this is to talk to them, potentially run some bloods, see if your A1C is being affected, see if thyroid values are being, you know, a metabolic panel would be very helpful here.
You know, and this is one of those things when medication is involved, this is something that you can't self-diagnose. But what I want to do is I want to point out those first three things of inaccurate calorie tracking, overestimating your activity, and then confusing weight loss and fat loss should be investigated first.
And then once you've investigated all those things, you're like, I'm tracking 100%. And it can help with the coach because they can take a look at what you're tracking. Because a lot of times I've seen this where a person is tracking peanut butter, but their peanut butter, the thing that they're plugging into say, My Fitness Pal or something like that is completely wrong.
You know, the values that they have are completely wrong. And so that could be an issue. Maybe you are a lot of people don't realize this. Maybe you are using an uncooked measurement, but you're weighing cooked which can throw things off a lot. Maybe you're using 93% ground beef when your plan or your coach has said, hey, maybe you should be using 96% based on your body weight and the fact that I want you to have a little bit more food and you think it's just 3%, it's not that big a deal. It's a massive difference in calories.
And for the same amount of like gram weight of food. And so address these things first.
And then if you're still having these issues, talk to your doctor and say, Hey, could we run a metabolic panel? Can we run a thyroid panel and see if this medication that I'm taking may be causing some issues because that could very well be in play.
And it's not that it can stop you completely. It's that it can throw a wrench into the system to where things are a lot harder for you in losing weight or whatever it is than it used to be. And maybe this is a reason.
But again, we've got the other things that we need to track too. Did your step count drop? Because before you never knew that you needed to watch step count here.
These stalls are difficult for people to address without learning these practical ways of, okay, well, what do I need to look at? And in what stages should I start to investigate where the problem would be? And the first thing is, are you overestimating your intake?
The second thing is, well, what's going on with your energy expenditure? Are your step counts dropping? And so, you systematically start to chip away at, okay, well, what's the most likely cause of me experiencing this issue? Those out. And once you've knocked those out, then you move down the list, and you finally get to medication.
Ted: Yeah, Alan, that was great. And I just want to follow up with two things. I wanted to also say that client, she didn't have great results in the program because actually she lost weight when she first joined. And then I don't remember how much, it was maybe 10 or 15 pounds.
And it was a slow creep up back to her original weight. And then when she left the program, she ended up coming off that medication, she was taking it for migraines. And so, she switched medication, she was able to drop weight very fast. And it's just something someone should be aware of. If you're feeling like you're really struggling looking into the medication after doing all the things that you said, but even so, Allan, I feel like sometimes people just for whatever reason.
It's so hard to put your mental energy on, okay, am I doing everything right? Am I tracking everything? I've got kids, oh, wait a minute work. And it's just so easy to get lost.
And right after she left and dropped the medication, she dropped weight. The other thing I wanted to ask you about, did you have a follow-up there? I want to say something.
Allan: Well, so there's a method that I use in last-ditch scenarios to try to identify whether or not it's a nutritional issue. And I bring this up because it works extremely well if you can get a person to do it.
And that's the hitch here. Because what do you do as a coach who's working remotely, right? You're not sitting in the room with them, you're not seeing them cook, you're not, you know, and so you have only so much control over somebody, and you're trusting that they're giving you the right information.
And in a lot of instances, they're not. This isn't necessarily they're lying to you. It's that they don't realize what they're doing. And so, they may be adding a lot more calories into whatever they're doing without realizing what they're doing.
And so, if you've gone through a series of questions, I actually have a series of questions that I asked them, you know, where we talk about, okay, well, you know, are we getting any extra liquid calories?
What are we doing for condiments? What are we cooking things in? Are we using, you know, 90% 93% ground beef, whatever we've talked about, you know, are we using these things? And, you know, a lot of times, they'll be like, Yeah, yeah, I'm doing all this. And so, the last thing that I would recommend doing, and this is good for people to be able to check this on their own at home.
Go to the store and say that you've calculated what you think that you roughly need for calories. Doesn't matter what it is. Go to the store, get Lean Cuisines to meet that calorie requirement, and then eat them and only them for two weeks and see what happens because that can help remove any of those errors in cooking that a person might be making.
And if all of a sudden, you know, you were eating 1500 calories and you were cooking and you weren't losing weight and then you eat 1500 calories of Lean Cuisines for two straight weeks and you lose two pounds, it's like, oh shit, what's going on here? Is that an easy answer? No.
Do we have a small amount of tools to be able to use from a remote situation when we've gone through all the rest of these things? Yeah, we do. And this is a good way to at least have some control in what we're eating.
Now, should you, should you add 20% to those calories? I probably wouldn't. I would recommend if you're eating out at a restaurant, or, you know, McDonald's because somebody else is preparing that food at McDonald's or a restaurant. Typically, with pre-packaged foods, they already have that 20% error taken into account. And, and they're supposed to have things rather, rather equal across things.
Now, a food delivery service like Trifecta or something like that, they don't have quite the same standards, even though it looks like it'spre-packaged. So I would if I was doing that add 20% to those.
So, these are the these are the, this is that nuance that's really annoying to talk about. That can be life-changing for these people. You know, if you start to put these into play, but it's is it a perfect answer or a perfect protocol to use? No.
Is it a good one to at least try? And if you can force yourself to do something like that for two weeks, it might give you some information that, okay, well, I really do need to kind of evaluate what I'm doing here as far as, you know, the way that I prepare food because something's off here.
Ted: Yeah, powerfully stated Alan. And it is annoying to talk about. And it certainly doesn't, it's nowhere near as entertaining as a one-day carnivore diet video with testicle popsicles.
Allan: Yeah, or completely changing up your routines every five seconds to shock your body and to change it. You know, that's what I'm saying. The real answers to these things are far more boring, but they're far more helpful.
Ted: It's boring to address and or maybe boring but tedious is the word that kind of comes up but the results are sexy, I got to say that they're worth it.
Allan: Yeah, they are. No, I can I can say this. No one has ever regretted looking into this stuff and then streamlining their process when they get the results that they were struggling to get. No one has ever regrets this. And this is the type of information that can really make that happen.
Ted: Yeah, well said, well said. And it's really tough to do this on your own, I think. Even me, I hired a coach in 2019, Eric who was just on the show recently, actually for the first time, Eric Williamson from Unlocked Fitness and Nutrition.
And man, it was a game-changer for me. So, one thing I wanted to ask you about is you mentioned earlier about the insulin resistance being a potential issue with weight loss. Can you talk more about what you mean by that?
Allan: So, this is something that when it starts, I'm not a big person that really pushes insulin as something that's going to massively change weight loss or weight gain because even with things like semaglutide, which is a GLP-1 mimetic, it raises insulin, and people still lose weight. The issue comes into play when your system gets completely thrown out of balance, and then you start to have metabolic pathology.
You know, and this is the same type of thing that you're going to start dipping into diabetes and to diabetics have issues losing weight at lower calories. Yeah, they have a tendency to, and part of this is because of these changes that happen with the body. So, is this something that's relevant to people that are otherwise healthy? No.
Energy balance is going to trump this. A negative energy balance is going to lead to weight loss, no matter what insulin is doing. And semaglutide and those other insulin mimetic or GLP-1 mimetic drugs show this. Does this have a tendency to change when you have pathology in play? Yeah, this can throw a wrench into things, but this is where it can get really...
Ted: How does it change though? What is the mechanism there?
Allan: The mechanism is, um, is, it's, it's an issue with actually absorbing and utilizing carbohydrates correctly. There becomes more of a storage issue rather than being used for, um, for, you know, muscle glycogen synthesis and some of these other things. It's essentially a retardation of what the pathway should actually be. Um, and, and people like, I don't know if you're familiar with, with Fung and his research, the obesity code guy.
Ted: Uh, not. Yeah, I know about Jason. I have not read his book and not a fan in general, but
Allan: and I'm and I'm not either. And so that's this is where I kind of want to show the distinction here. Remember, we're going to get into the thing where we're going to start fighting at some point? We're dodging that. No, we're dodging that.
Ted: No. BCAAs, bro.
Allan: So, Fung, the issue with Fung's research is he'll point out research that are that's in diabetics. And he'll say this is why you can't eat carbs because insulin is problematic.
But what is disingenuous about this take is that's not how it works in somebody that has actual glucose control. And so. this is where he actually presents research and people say, oh, well, you know, maybe I should trust him because he's showing me this research that shows that this that, you know, this impaired glucose response is causing things like weight gain, metabolic syndrome, and some of these other problems which causes a breakdown of a lot of the systems.
You know, maybe that's something that I really need to pay attention to, and maybe I can't eat white rice. Maybe I have to eat all vegetables, or maybe I have to eat just brown rice or something else. But it doesn't work that way in an otherwise healthy person because we do have proper glucose handling abilities and our body takes care of it.
With respect to how medications can affect body fat gain, this typically has a combination of factors in play. If you are in a calorie deficit, the calorie deficit is going to trump the action of insulin.
However, if medications are causing some insulin resistance, are causing some type of metabolic shift or metabolic syndrome, moving you into a sort of pathology, The issue comes into play when that compounds with things like, um, you know, errors and tracking errors in how much you're taking in errors and how much you think that you're expending.
And when you start to go above maintenance calories, even when you're not realizing it, having some of these issues with some of this metabolic disturbance can cause insulin to cause more shuttling of extra calories into body fat rather than into being used for repairing lean muscle, building lean muscle, or just being absorbed and utilizes energy.
And so, these actions of he hypothyroid or medications that cause hypothyroid issues can directly affect the energy balance equation. The issues with medications that affect insulin handling. And glucose handling tend to affect partitioning, which becomes really apparent when you are above maintenance calories, whether you're doing it intentionally or unintentionally.
Ted: No, thanks for clearing that up, Alan. And now let's get into the topic of weight loss medications. What do you, what are your thoughts on those? I mean, we're both coaches. I'm not, I mean, you know, some, some people were in the business of weight loss or fat loss coaching or programs, cohorts, whatever, have really disliked them. I've had a couple clients who I've told, hey, listen, we've tried everything, your lifestyle for whatever reason.
You're not able to consistently get into a calorie deficit and maintain it. You keep going down, coming back up, and you're 60 years old. Go get, go talk to a bariatric doctor, get on this medication, and maybe we can deal with the lifestyle stuff later.
Most people, um, you know, should not even be worried about it. They're not hitting that 30 BMI standard, right? You can't even get it prescribed to you, even though, by the way, it's hard to find here. I'm in Brazil right now.
People are like getting doctors to prescribe it. And so, if you're a diabetic and you are 30 BMI or, you know, whatever the situation is, it's hard to even get the medication. You have to wait for it. But what are your just thoughts about it overall?
Allan: So based on the information that's out there so far, I'm a fan of it if used as an adjunct to proper nutrition and exercise. And I've seen really good data on it so far. I know that some people are really afraid of lean muscle loss and stuff like that.
And I'm not really seeing that in people that are actually exercising or know, in general, I don't think that that's a major issue. Now, can you have lean muscle loss from losing body weight really quickly? Yeah, you can. So what do you do? I mean, then you do the same things that we would be recommending as coaches anyways, you keep your protein higher, you, you, you do some weight training if possible. And I think that you counterbalance any of those negatives.
But I, I like these medications because I think that there are a lot of people that that fight these discordant hunger cues. And so for them, they're really experiencing a lot more hunger than another person. And this can be one of those ways to really help get that under control. So then the fitness and lifestyle adjustments that you're making can finally make some sense. They're able to be more consistent with it.
Ted: Yeah, Nir Aiyal who's not in the weight loss industry at all. He's like a consultant for social media companies and wrote some books on productivity and how to make technology more addictive. But one of the things he said, because he's had his own weight loss journey, he's actually been on the show as well. He said that pills don't teach skills. And I really liked that a lot.
Allan: That's true. You know, and I think that looking at this as a, this is my answer to, to losing weight is, is probably missing the point. But I like it as an adjunct to the right mindset and the right practices. And I think that there's, it's funny because you see people on both sides of this and I think that people get, I think that a lot of people get really negative about it.
Maybe when it when they shouldn't be overly negative about it. But I see also other people trying to get these like you said when they they're not necessarily Indicated for this type of medication and they're just trying to force it because maybe they think that it's a way around doing the right thing. But you know no matter no matter what If you really want to have optimal health performance and quality of life you're going to have to change the way that you eat most likely if you think that you're qualified for this medication. So overall, I'm a fan when it's used.
Ted: Yeah. Me too. Some people are like, Oh, you're going to be out of a job. I'm like most of the clients that I work with aren't 30 BMI. That's a I'm hesitant to work with clients who have so much weight to lose. It's a longer journey.
I don't want to get into my thoughts about it. But I think there's more emotional challenges, stress, specifically stress challenges involved in the situation. And yeah, it's so we would really have to be like, Hey, listen, I'm in it for a year. Let's let's do this. I'm ready to go.
But one thing I wanted to say just, I know you have a follow up there, but I wanted to say this about your point on, um, about always the right mindset and strategies. I've got a friend of mine in Sao Paulo, beautiful, uh, guy, uh, she's an OB GYN doctor. I was trying to, she, she's very fit, but she just couldn't get rid of the last bit of fat on her.
She had a little bit of, uh, she didn't have abs, right? But she wanted abs. And so, she ended up getting lipo suction from one of the best doctors in Sao Paulo and Brazil has excellent doctors. She ended up getting, um, not an infection, but the tissue started to turn necrotic or almost necrotic. You know, this, that's outside of my wheelhouse.
I know you were trained as a dental surgeon. So, I'm sure you understand this a bit better. But he had to go to the hyperbaric chamber. And it was just changed her life this whole experience. It was life changing, she felt like she might even die because of it. And she still has some, like some discoloration, where the tissue change colors when it was, I guess, hypoxic or whatever, you know, whatever turning necrotic.
And I mean, I was just, I was like, if you just would have listened to me, if we just would have changed your workout, would have tracked your calories, you could have avoided this whole thing. And my point in saying that is there is no shortcut. Everything has a cost or a risk associated to it. Just just I wanted to make sure people got that message.
Allan: Well, you also miss out on a lot of the beneficial changes if you're doing it in that manner. For instance, you're not going to get the same type of cardiovascular benefits. You're not going to get the same type of, you know, metabolic health benefits that you would if you built some lean muscle.
You know, and, and having more lean muscle makes you metabolically thrifty, you know, you can weather change a little bit better, you can, you know, you're more resistant to disease and there's better quality of life overall. And I think that people that, I don't necessarily think that having surgery is inherently wrong. I think that there are there are risks.
And like you said, you could have some, in some issues with an iatrogenic problem, which is what that was. You had a, you had, you know, cell death, you know, and I think that also people don't realize that when you have a, a surgery like that, there's the potential for fat to become redistributed. And so, you can remove fat from say,
Ted: What do you mean by that? Totally get it.
Allan: Well, and this is not my area of expertise, but this is something that has been shown as a potential side effect to liposuction-type procedures is that fat cells are removed from say the stomach area and that there becomes a preponderance of buildup of fat storage somewhere else.
So, if you don't necessarily change your habits and routines to prevent fat regain if you're, if you're continuing to eat at that calorie surplus that you were at that got you to have that stomach fat in the first place. Well, now you no longer have those fat cells in your, in your stomach area so the those extra calories are going to be stored somewhere else.
So, then all of a sudden these people start to have like backfat that they had never had before or like fat on their arms that they had never had before, you know, to a much greater extent because those extra calories need to go somewhere.
And, you know, you've lost those fat cells that were in your stomach. And the reality of fat loss is you don't, you don't actually remove the fat cells. Fat cell death is a very rare thing. You deplete them.
And so it looks like the fat's gone, but those fat cells essentially stay even when you're lean. And that's what refills back up as you go back into a calorie surplus. But when you have the liposuction, you actually remove them.
And so when you start to regain fat, where does it go? Well, it's got to go somewhere. And so what some people have seen is some very, very strange fat redistribution patterns because you can't control where it goes back. So that's something else to keep in mind.
Ted: Yeah, why I asked you about it was because I've, I mean, I know you're in Maui. I was based in Miami Beach for many years. I've seen so many people get lipo and it, some, they look strange when it inevitably comes back because, you know, it's just like giving someone if I could snap my fingers and give you someone who's obese abs, they would lose it really quick because it's about the habits, the knowledge, the skills.
And if you don't have that, you can't keep it kind of like, you know, people who win the lottery and end up even more having more problems. Not exactly the same there, but yeah.
The point is you got to have the habits and skills and knowledge. So it's fascinating. That is also scary a little bit because I wasn't seeing them in their bathing suits. They were in their workout clothes.
Allan: It's such a risk. And like we said in the very beginning, when you move into this health and fitness lifestyle, people know for the most part where they should be at least going. And these shortcuts, although viable for treatments, they don't replace what we should be doing anyways. And I think that that's where that kind of gets lost in translation.
Ted: Yeah, well said. Alan, it's been a pleasure, man. I really appreciate your content on Instagram. It was even more fun sitting down and talking to you. I feel like it easily, I feel like we just scratched the surface here. So, we will have to do a part two sometime soon. And if you're listening today and you enjoyed, uh, Allan's information, the way he talks about things and, uh, he, and if you're on Instagram, you've got to give them a follow @drallanbacon on Instagram, or go to his website, www.mauiathletics.com.
But again, I can't emphasize enough. If you're on Instagram, he's one of the people that you need to follow. Please stop following Jason Fung and the other people and anyone who's showing you a day of eating of their..., or whatever diet they're doing uh and like it's supposed to be anything other than just something to get clicks and likes and shares so thanks so much, Allan, really enjoyed uh today's conversation with you
Allan: Thank you, Ted. It's been a pleasure.
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