The Myth of Moderation and Fat Loss: Introduction to Phase-Shift Diets
My military experience has taught me that the fastest way to adopt a habit is through immersion. Immersion requires a drastic and immediate change of habits.
Anyone who has experienced military boot-camp knows what I'm talking about. I remember arriving at Lackland Air Force Base one winter night many years ago, standing outside of the barracks being yelled at by an immaculately clean drill instructor. I remember thinking, "What the hell have I gotten myself into?" Being a military brat, I had an idea of what to expect, but you really have no idea of the drastic overhaul that occurs until you've gone through something like that. By the third week of training, everything was (somewhat) routine, we knew what to expect and how to respond.
So what does military boot-camp have to do with losing body-fat and looking good?
Moderation is boring. And when it relates to altering appearance; moderation achieves mediocreresults at best.
Dramatic results require drastic changes.
Some health professionals believe that any nutrition protocols(diets) that require the elimination of a food group as unsustainable, impractical, or even unhealthy. But in reality, science and empirical evidence suggests otherwise.
Low carbohydrate, high fat(LCHF), phase-shift diets are the best diets for losing body fat, building muscle, and improving all health markers. Dr Mauro Di Pasquale was the first to organize this concept when he wrote "The Anabolic Diet," which was my introduction to phase-shift diets.
What is a low carbohydrate, high fat(LCHF), phase-shift diet?
Obviously, it's a diet that is very low in carbohydrates (typically less than 50 grams of carbs/day), high in fat (45%-60% of daily calories), and moderate in protein.
On my LCHF phase-shift diet, you go 2-3 consecutive days eating mostly fat and protein, then you shift to a moderate carbohydrate, high protein, moderate fat diet for 1 day. Then repeat. Over the course of a week, you will go LCHF for 5 days out of 7.
This higher carbohydrate phase-shift day allows you to take advantage of the higher insulin level that occurs when eating more carbohydrates. Since low carbohydrate eating combined with strength training improves insulin sensitivity in muscle tissue, the extra carbohydrates have a pronounced anabolic(muscle growth) effect. This serves 2 purposes: enhance muscle growth, and food variety.
When it comes to fat loss and muscle growth, low carbohydrate, high fat, phase-shift diets, are superior to all other diets. The biggest drawback of most low carbohydrate diets is the lack of muscle growth that often accompanies long-term carbohydrate restriction. You may be thinking, "I only want to lose body fat, I don't want bigger muscles." Well that's fine if you DON'T want to slow the aging process; muscle atrophy(shrinkage) results in a loss of strength, work capacity, and mitochondrial function. Activities that cultivate health and result in the muscle growth are the closest things to the fountain of youth that exists.
Adherence to a low carbohydrate, high fat (LCHF), phase-shift diet will change you from a carbohydrate burning machine into a fat burning(fat-adapted) machine.
Benefits of being fat-adapted
- Fat adapted individuals produce less oxidative stress during exercise.
- Fat-adapted trainees utilize body fat to a greater extent at rest and during exercise than carbohydrate dependent trainees
- Faster recovery between training sessions
- Less muscle soreness and inflammation after training
- Improved strength-to-weight ratio due to lower body-fat
- Lower triglycerides
- Rapid fat loss without food cravings
- LCHF diets are simple to follow and don't require calorie counting
Benefits of a Phase Shift Diet
- Your favorite foods can be consumed on specific days
- Eating schedule can be tailored to meet social obligations
- Maintenance of anabolic hormone profile
- Enhanced muscle growth
- It's fun eating gluten-free chocolate chip cookies while maintaining 8% bodyfat
Sample menu of my LCHF phase-shift diet
Days 1-3 and 5-6, LCHF
Grass-Fed New York Strip, pan fried in butter or beef tallow
Pecans, 1 handful
Black Coffee, add 1 tbsp Organic Half & Half
Grilled Salmon or grilled seafood
Small Romaine lettuce salad
Extra Virgin Olive Oil dressing (sugar free)
Tea, Plain w/lemon
Cheese stick, zero carbohydrate
Canadian Bacon, Ham, or Turkey
Grass Fed Pot Roast, prepared with onion as garnish
Brussels Sprouts, sautéed w/ butter
Day 4 and 7 - Phase-Shift, Moderate carbohydrate, high protein, moderate fat
Omelet or Scrambled Eggs, 1-2 eggs more than usual
Oatmeal, Gluten-Free, 1-2 servings
prepared in unsweetened Almond milk or water
add maple syrup or honey
Fruit or berries (strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, etc…)
Protein Shake: Poliquin Fit-Meal Lite(1 serving) + Whey Stronger 2.0, cacao (1 serving)
mix in 8-12 oz of unsweetened Almond Milk or water
Baked Chicken w/skin
Baked Sweet Potato
Sautéed Spinach w/butter
Fresh fruit of choice
Homemade trail mix (2/3 nuts, 1/3 dried fruit and dark chocolate)
Whey Protein shake (20 grams protein) or BCAA’s 12 capsules
Seafood (shrimp, fish, lobster)
Rice or Baked potato w/Butter
Fresh Fruit (pineapple)
After Dinner Dessert
Yogurt, Noosi full fat, honey flavored
add frozen organic blueberries
BCAA’s, 6-12 capsules
I occasionally follow an intermittent fasting protocol where I skip breakfast and have my first meal at 12 noon. This is done on the low carbohydrate days and is a great way to accelerate fat loss.