Why Sleep Trumps Everything

Sleep: Your Body’s Repair Shop

You may exercise and consider yourself physically fit, but I bet you still wonder why you never feel fully recharged, get sick every now and then, or never make the muscle gains or fat loss goals that you think you should be achieving. Here’s a shocker: Along with lacking proper nutrients from foods, you are most likely deficient on sleep as well. We all want to be super productive and handle all that we can during the day, but few realize how essential seven hours of sleep is to our body.

What is REM sleep?

REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is characterized by eye movement, increased respiration rate and increased brain activity. Dreaming occurs because of increased brain activity, but voluntary muscles become paralyzed. Voluntary muscles are those that you need to move by choice, for example, your arms and legs. Involuntary muscles are those that include your heart and gut. They move on their own.

This is when you enter your dream state. We typically enter REM approximately 90 minutes after falling asleep. The first cycle of REM often lasts only a short amount of time, but each cycle becomes longer. This is why we need long periods of sleep each night. If we get short periods of sleep, we can’t really get through the stages we need to heal and stay healthy. One reason why you may not be getting a proper, quality sleep is a circadian rhythm gone haywire.

What is my circadian rhythm?

Your internal 24–hour sleep–wake cycle, otherwise known as your biological clock or circadian rhythm, is regulated by processes in the brain that respond to how long you’ve been awake and the changes between light and dark. At night, your body responds to the loss of daylight by producing melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. During the day, sunlight triggers the brain to inhibit melatonin production so you feel awake and alert. I’m sure you’ve seen those melatonin supplements at a vitamin shop? Take one of these and you will trick your brain into thinking it’s bedtime.

Your internal clock can go haywire from things like nightshift work, traveling across time zones, or irregular sleeping patterns—leaving you feeling groggy, disoriented, and sleepy at inconvenient times. The production of melatonin can also be thrown off when you’re deprived of sunlight during the day or exposed to too much artificial light at night—especially the light from electronic devices, including TVs, iPads, tablets, and mobile phones.

I’m a busy person, so what can I do to get a better sleep?

Artificial light

Minimize the use of artificial light during the evenings. Put a candle on instead of using a bright ceiling light, or at least use a dimmer; use a desk lamp; turn off the TV a few hours before bedtime; brainstorm ideas on a paper notebook and transfer them to a laptop during the day instead of staring at a highly illuminated computer screen all evening.

Reading a fiction book

Even if you insist on working late into the night on your laptop with all the lights on in your house, you still can improve your sleep through one simple technique: let your mind wander.

When you lay down in bed for the night turn on a low intensity bedside lamp or light a candle, and pick up your favorite fiction book and let your mind drift into a fantasy land. By allowing your brain to switch off you will forget about the pressures of your job, your life, and other stress-inducing commitments. Just try to let go for that last piece of the night and drift off into a fictional world of dragons, romance, and fantastic adventures. You will end up increasing your amount of REM sleep and fall asleep much quicker than if you lie there worrying about tomorrow’s events. Save the worrying for tomorrow morning!

Stretching & Breathing

A simple pre-bedtime exercise sometimes can be so effective that you wonder how you did without it.

Stretching is a natural stress reliever and we often forget to loosen our tightly bound muscles by stretching and relaxing for a few minutes during the day! Simply stretch your body and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat until you feel relaxed.

After your stretching, as you lie in bed and close your eyes preparing to go to sleep, take a DEEP breath, hold it, and exhale. Repeat this five times. Fantastic sleep awaits … zzzzzzz.

Control your Body Fat Like a Pro: 3 Simple Steps To Six Pack Abs

STEP 1: Keep insulin levels low

As we described above, carbohydrates, sugars, and starches raise blood glucose levels (insulin)  and keep our body storing all that fat we want to lose, so let’s kick them out of our diet!

Eliminating carbohydrates completely is very difficult, even when eating traditionally prepared foods, so attempt to limit your carbohydrate intake to 30mg per day for rapid weight loss. An easy way to do this without ‘counting carbs’ is to eliminate the following foods and ingredients listed below from your diet immediately, and stick to consuming real foods consisting of primarily proteins and fats (grass fed meat, soaked nuts, raw dairy, and of course organic vegetables).

The best way to go about this transformation is to do it ‘cold turkey’ instead of gradually; this way you will have less of a chance of relapsing into a carb-rich diet.

BE PREPARED: You will feel withdrawal symptoms from wheat as well as sugar. These will last no longer than one week at the maximum. You can do it … I know you can!

THREE BIG THINGS TO AVOID:

1) SUGAR
2) WHEAT/GRAIN
3) STARCH

 

THE MANY NAMES OF SUGAR

  • Table sugar
  • Fruit juice (just another form of fructose)
  • Fruit (limit to one piece a day)
  • Sucrose
  • Fructose
  • Dextrose
  • Sorbitol
  • Corn syrup
  • Molasses
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Powdered sugar
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Raw organic sugar
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • White sugar
  • Invert sugar
  • Maltodextrin
  • Brown sugar
  • Agave syrup

WHEAT AND GRAIN PRODUCTS

  • Flour (White, brown, spelt, buckwheat, etc.)
  • Rice (White, brown, black, etc.)
  • Cereals (All cereal products including granola, museli, etc.)
  • Bread (White, whole wheat, sourdough, etc.)

STARCH

  • Potatoes
  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Cornstarch
  • Cornmeal
  • Potato chips
  • Popcorn
  • Rice cakes
  • GLUTEN-FREE FOODS

Why shouldn’t I gluten-free foods?

Gluten-free foods are made with substitute flours and one or more starches instead of wheat. Yes, eating a gluten-free product negates the harmful effects of wheat; however, the starches cause a dramatic rise in blood sugar and insulin levels that instructs your body to begin storing fat for the remainder of the day!

If you are craving a pastry, instead of swapping a wheat-based muffin for a gluten-free muffin, try making muffins yourself with almond, hazelnut, or coconut flour and save the starch for your fancy shirts!

Always read the ingredients to know what exactly you are putting in your body if you choose to purchase processed foods.

What’s wrong with fruit?

Fruit contains a type of sugar known as fructose, and when consumed it is turned into free fatty acids, VLDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and triglycerides, which get stored as fat. Yes, they also contain vitamins and antioxidants, but fruits today are grown to be super sweet and are available year-round which raises our fructose consumption to dangerous levels. Chronic over consumption of fructose is a common cause for metabolic syndrome (obesity) given that fructose can only be metabolized by the liver instead of by the all of the cells in your body.

Advertising campaigns have played up the benefits of certain fruit, take Vitamin C for example: Oranges have loads of vitamin C … right? Wrong! A handful of acerola berries, leafy green vegetables, red capsicum, or parsley all have far greater vitamin C content than an orange which is packed with fructose. Don’t believe the hype!

Limit your fructose consumption to less than 15mg per day, which is a piece of fruit or a handful of berries. Avoid high sugar fruits (grapes, bananas, mangos, sweet cherries, apples, pineapples, pears, and kiwi fruit) as well as dried fruit as they are processed with vegetable oils and contains high sugar content.

Can I have diet soda drinks or artificial sweeteners?

Just say no to artificial sweeteners – they are not worth the damage to your body. Aspartame (the most common artificial sweetener) is a chemical poison and is linked to headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain.

If you are thinking about substituting stevia for your sweet fix – realize that it can increase insulin levels and subsequently block fat loss, not to mention never get you over your sweet tooth – exactly what you don’t want! Once you kick the sweet cravings your body will adapt and you will find that anything with added sugar will taste sickeningly sweet – trust me – cold turkey is the way to go on this.

STEP 2: Replace the lost calories from carbohydrates with good fats and proteins

When it comes to food you need to focus on quality not quantity. You can purchase high quality grass fed meats online for the same price of the grain fed beef you find at the supermarket. Buy from local farms if available, by doing so you will cut out the middleman and save money while getting to know where your food actually comes from.

Don’t be afraid to try things that you may not be accustomed to, such as liver, bone marrow, ox tail, intestine, stomach, tongue, and the like – these are all very powerful foods for our body and contain nutrients that are found nowhere else in our diet.

OK … so then what CAN i eat?

MEAT

  • All cuts of meat from pasture raised, grass fed animals (when in doubt, assume the worst and locate a local butcher that knows where their meat comes from or else visit a local farm). Search for ‘grass fed meat online’ and you will find a farm that will ship it directly to your door!

DAIRY

  • Eggs from pastured, free range chickens (the whole egg, not just egg whites)
  • Raw milk from pasture raised, grass fed cows, goats, buffalo, or sheep. Do not consume pasteurized or homogenized milk as a primary milk source.
  • Butter and Ghee from pasture raised, grass fed animals. If you can’t find local producers, try the following large name brands:
    • United States: Kerrygold (Sourced from New Zealand pastured cows)
    • Australia: Westgold (Another New Zealand brand)

NUTS

  • Almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, cashews, brazil, whatever type of nut (peanuts are not nuts) that you enjoy – but enjoy them in small quantities and do not make them a significant part of your diet.

SOAK THOSE NUTS: Nuts naturally contain phytic acid, which when consumed, inhibits the absorption of nutrients and minerals by your body. In order to make the nuts easily digestible and beneficial for your body instead of acting as an anti-nutrient: soak them overnight in water with a bit of salt and then you can dry them out in the oven by setting it to the lowest temperature for 12 hours.

OILS AND FATS

  • Duck fat, lard, ghee, butter, olive oil, and coconut oil are excellent fats for cooking. Make sure to not heat oil or fat to its ‘smoke point’ – the point at which the liquid is actually smoking and the nutritional value begins to decrease dramatically. Oil that has been refined and processed will have a higher smoking point than a virgin product; except for ghee, which has the highest smoke point of an unrefined product at 485F or 252C. Avoid vegetable oils (yes, even cold-pressed) such as corn, soybean, safflower, canola, sunflower, and cottonseed, as all of these oils are highly processed, high in omega-6 fatty acids, promote inflammation, and most contain (typically unlabeled) trans-fats.

VEGETABLES

  • All vegetables (preferably non-GMO and organic). Avoid high starch varieties (potatoes, turnips) due to the negative effect on your body’s insulin levels. Dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach are excellent choices packed with (plant-based) Vitamin A and Vitamin K1.

Won’t I be hungry all the time?

Eating fats and proteins keep you feeling full. Eating carbohydrates makes you feel bloated, lethargic, and are always followed by more hunger cravings. Remember, your body runs on fatty acids (from fats) and eating more fat will not cause your body to store fat (contrary to popular belief).

CALORIES

Forget calories! We don’t worry about calories in 2WHB and neither will you. Do lions count calories before they consider biting into a zebra? Did Neanderthals worry about daily caloric recommendations when eating every single piece (fatty tissues & offal) of the animal? NO! It’s not about how many calories you consume – it’s the source of the calories that will determine how quickly you can drop that extra weight. Eat until you feel full. Eat real meat, real milk, real eggs, and delicious vegetables.

STEP 3: Consistency is Key

In order for these foods to actually affect the composition of your body and see results of 2WHB, you need to give it time for your body to change. Even if you take an aspirin to relieve a headache … it doesn’t take effect immediately. Remember: we are trying to reverse YEARS of neglect and improper eating in a very small space of time!

All that I ask is that you stick with it for 14 DAYS before deciding whether or not 2WHB actually works. In today’s world of processed food and cheap ingredients it seems like you can’t go anywhere without encountering bad food dressed up as a high quality product, so keep on your toes, eat real food, and follow the 5 ingredient rule if you absolutely MUST have some processed foods!

Coffee drinkers: Half of the population drinks coffee everyday (I sure do!) and I have no doubt that your local café uses the cheapest pasteurized and homogenized milk available. From now on, order your coffee without sugar or milk (or bring your own REAL milk!) … and no breakfast pastries, gluten-free snacks, bagels, etc. of course.

How You Get Fat and Why Calorie Counting Does Not Work

So … why do we get fat?

Let’s start with some basic information about how your body stores fat by addressing two common myths that you hear today from every magazine, TV show, exercise program, and fad diet:

Myth #1: Calorie Counting

This is the most common myth that is regurgitated by everyone, without any real thought to it other than repeating the first law of thermodynamics.

“The first law of thermodynamics states that energy is neither created nor destroyed but can only change from one form to another. If you blow up a stick of dynamite, the potential energy contained in the chemical bonds of the nitroglycerin is transformed into heat and the kinetic energy of the explosion. We cannot make something out of nothing or nothing out of something.” (Taubes)

The conventional wisdom: Consume more calories than you burn and you will retain those excess calories as fat. Consume fewer calories than you burn and you will lose fat. This appears to make sense because those calories have to go somewhere, right?

WRONG.

The problem with the calories-in calories-out reasoning is that it does not take into account the vastly different biochemical processes that occur inside your body when you consume 100 calories of carbohydrates from an industrially processed breadstick verses consuming 100 calories consisting of protein from a grass fed steak prepared deliciously rare. The source of the calories is the primary factor that determines how your body will respond to the foods that you eat.

Consuming calories consisting of carbohydrates will cause blood sugar and insulin to increase, send excess energy (glucose) to fat cells, and prevent your body from using stored fatty acids for energy which results in your body retaining more fat.

Alternatively, by eating the same amount of calories consisting of a combination of fats and proteins, you will keep blood sugar and insulin levels low. This sends a signal to your body to burn these incoming proteins and fatty acids as energy instead of storing them away in your subcutaneous fat layer and … killing your beach body.

Myth #2: Exercise or “why you can’t lose fat on the treadmill”

While exercising is beneficial and will build new muscle fibers, increase cardiovascular fitness, increase your metabolic rate, and do wonders for bouts of depression – exercise by itself will not help you lose weight on a permanent basis.

The energy we consume and the energy we expend are dependent on each other. This means that the more you exercise and the more calories you burn, the more your body craves to replenish this energy by giving you a bigger appetite, and consequently, you end up eating more food to replenish depleted fat stores to return your body to homeostasis.

Homeostasis is the ability of the body to seek and maintain a condition of equilibrium or stability within its internal environment when dealing with external changes.

If you attempt to starve yourself, your body adapts and reduces your appetite and caloric requirements in preparation of surviving in a calorie restricted environment. Reliance on exercise alone as a weight loss strategy will give you temporary results and you will feel constantly exhausted as you attempt to continuously restrict your food intake.

I am not saying that exercise is bad for you and I am not saying to avoid exercise, but you cannot rely on exercise alone to regulate your body weight if your diet is out of whack.

Combine regular exercise habits with the principles of unconventional nutrition and watch how quickly you can transform your body into a work of art and realize how easy it is to maintain it.

The Real Reason You get Fat:

CARBOHYDRATES

“Carbohydrate is driving insulin is driving fat” – George Cahill, a former professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Eating fat does not make you fat.

Eating carbohydrates does make you fat.

Most people today are sedentary office workers; meaning that the day consists of commuting to work, sitting/standing in an office environment, commuting home, and performing sedentary activities at home for the remainder of the evening.

Additionally, a typical ‘Western style’ breakfast consists of cereal with fake (pasteurized, homogenized, and reduced fat) milk, a bagel or toast, coffee, juice, and maybe a piece of fruit. This ‘great start to the day’ as advertisers would have you believe, is actually shooting your insulin levels skyward every morning and preventing your body from burning fat all day – no matter if you happen to get some casual exercise in or not.

What’s happening in your body when you eat carbs?

  • As soon as you think about eating that carb-packed snack, your pancreas begins to secrete insulin into your bloodstream in anticipation of a rise in blood sugar when you bite down on that delicious potato chip full of carbohydrates.

Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone produced in the pancreas and regulates the amount of glucose (sugar) in our bloodstream.

  • When you begin eating carbohydrates your body quickly breaks them down into glucose (yes, even ‘complex’ carbohydrates), which increases your blood sugar and sends a signal to the pancreas to increase insulin output. When your insulin levels remain elevated, your body thinks there must be plenty of glucose in your blood to use as energy, so it instructs your fat tissue to effectively ‘store’ all the fatty acids away for later use when insulin levels (and glucose levels) decrease. As soon as insulin levels decrease, your body will use fatty acids as its energy source by breaking down triglycerides (fat) to fatty acids to be burned as energy.
  • In the morning, your body is highly sensitive to insulin and your cortisol levels are at their highest. This is by far the worst time to consume the ‘typical’ western breakfast laden with carbohydrates and sugars (breads, cereals, juices).

Cortisol is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the adrenal gland that increases blood sugar, fights inflammation, and assists in the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

Here’s the key thing to remember: The longer that you can keep your insulin levels low, the more time your body will have to use fatty acids as an energy source instead of burning carbohydrates and storing the excess energy away in your subcutaneous fat reserves, which are also known as your muffin top, beer belly, or cottage cheese legs!

So, instead of eating carbs in the morning (bread, rice, cereal, etc.) either skip it or stick to eating fat and protein (eggs, steak, butter, etc.) for a more satisfying (and fat burning) breakfast!

Drop the carbs and drop the weight!

Got all that? Good, now you know what is causing you to put on those pounds even when you’ve been running five miles each day and lifting weights religiously. It may come as a shock, but your calorie intake is not important, rather it is the source of those calories (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) that, in part, will determine how much body fat you have.

Choose to start your day differently from now on: free-range eggs, pastured bacon or grass-fed steak, and organic vegetables. Are you already thinking that you don’t have time to prepare a proper breakfast? Simply wake up TEN minutes earlier. It takes all of TEN minutes to make and a breakfast packed with protein and fat will keep you going well past lunchtime. This will keep insulin levels low and allow your body to burn fat for energy the entire day while you are sitting at work (not exercising). Or skip breakfast and try for a 12 hour fast until lunch for an even quicker fat burn – how quick you want to lose the weight is up to you!

3 Reasons to Fast Through Breakfast

Your body and your mitochondries need to avoid burnout. A 12 hour fast is a great way to reset your system and amp up your fat burning. There is no better time to do it than from bedtime to early afternoon because you’re asleep for half of it (10pm-10am).

  • Increased Focus and Alertness

With last night’s dinner digested long ago, you feel responsive and highly alert, slightly hungry but not enough where it impairs your cognitive abilities. It’s like when you have that big lunch at work then can barely knock out the remainder of the afternoon because you have brain fog from overeating and feel lethargic.

  • Energy

Your gut is empty which means you are maximizing blood flow to your brain in lieu of forcing your body to cope with digesting an entire breakfast sitting in your stomach.

  • Burn Fat

As the food from the previous night gets digested and blood sugar normalizes, your body tapers off the production of insulin which green-lights your body to start burning fat once again. A 12 hour fast is a good timeframe for capturing this fat burn window without being too long that you cannot do it sustainably.

It is not easy to break habits that you have trained yourself to take part in every single day. I get it, that is why WILLPOWER is what separates you from the rest of society that makes excuses why they can’t do something as easy as not stuff their faces for a few extra hours in the morning. Fasting is essential to burning fat and getting serious about building a body where you are not afraid of the mirror. Have a black coffee while fasting (even though this is not a “true” fast, for our purposes it is fine) to keep energy levels up while adjusting to your new routine.

Photoshoot Abs vs. Normal Abs

First, we need to dispel a misconception about “normal” abs vs. “photoshoot” abs.

Normal Abs:

These are my abs on a normal basis – not a highly vascular post-workout pumped up photo or after cutting carbs for a week, but what I look like at a “resting state” after probably ~5 hrs of fasting. The lighting is this photo is harsh and gives my body a very flat appearance.

Photoshoot Abs:

This guy’s abs are ripped for a professional photo shoot. His prep was probably 2-3 weeks of low carb, then the night prior to the shoot upping his carbs a bit to help fill out and get the skin tight while dehydrating and throwing in a quick workout to complete the fully ripped look. The lighting here is excellent and fully captures the muscular separation and definition.

Photoshoot Abs Are Not Sustainable

Your body works properly when adequately hydrated and coated with a certain amount of fat based upon your genetics, body type, diet, and intensity of exercise. Walking around at 1% body fat is unhealthy and unsustainable, not to mention you will feel like shit after maintaining your Photoshoot Abs for too long.

Don’t get discouraged from your goals when you come across social media posts with staged photos of Photoshoot Abs. Remember – if you similar to how I look in the photo above, you can always transform your Normal Abs into Photoshoot Abs within 1-2 weeks through the techniques mentioned above!

Don’t be fooled by the bullshit.