Energy Balance/Stress Optimization Reflections, Part 3: Could Eating More Food, And More Carbs, More Frequently Unlock Peak Performance And Minimize Stress? (Breather Episode with Brad)


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In part three of this four-part series, I pose the important question of whether healthy, fit, athletic types might not need to indulge in fasting, keto, low-carb, low-fat, time restricted feeding and other so-called hormetic dietary stressors when we have “redundant pathways” we can access to optimize metabolic and cellular function.

Similarly, let’s throw in the recommendation popularized by carnivore advocates like Dr. Paul Saladino about whether we need to indulge in plant hormesis from high toxin plant foods to prompt an anti-inflammatory and/or antioxidant response when we can indulge in environmental hormesis like cold or heat therapy to prompt the same hormonal benefits with no side effects.

Of course it’s all about balance and we don’t want to discount the many scientifically validated benefits of diets like keto, but it’s worth reflecting on the best uses and strategies of the tools we have at our disposal to achieve energy balance and stress optimization and peak performance.

In my personal example which I detail in the show, I must be careful stacking my assorted stressors:

  • High intensity workouts (including frequently over-exerting myself at high intensity workouts by mistake and paying the price later)
  • Being in the 55+ age group while doing said high intensity workouts
  • Playing around with dietary strategies that prompt stress hormones, including fasting and carb restriction
  • Playing around with hormetic stressors/biohacks like cold exposure and sauna exposure to potential excess
  • Factoring in all other forms of stress in hectic, high-stress modern life

This show ends with some great marching orders to get everything dialed in and set yourself up for success and healthy energy balance. I’ll relate the experiment I’ve been performing for over a month of a morning fruit bowl and a giant protein-liver-fruit superfuel smoothie (instead of fasting for a while or nibbling on dark chocolate), and increasing carb and caloric intake in general—inspired by Jay Feldman and Mike Fave and the Energy Balance Podcast.

Here's a compelling quote from Jay Feldman's blog: “If we have an energy surplus, we adapt by increasing the amount of energy we use, which improves the functioning of our brain, digestive system, immune system, and other high-level functions. Our body will also favor energy production in place of fuel conservation, which allows us to further improve these functions and increases the pool of energy that we can draw from when we experience minor stressors, which then reduces harmful adaptations.”


In the first two parts of the Energy Balance podcasts, Brad reviewed the idea that fasting carb restriction, keto etc. can prompt stress response, and it is possible to overdo it. [01:20]

As a consequence of over training, many biological functions suffer. And a diet of nutrient deficient foods inhibits your body from producing energy. [03:51]

Do healthy fit athletes really need fasting and carb restriction? [08:38]

If you are going on a long fast, it really prompts increased psychological pleasure when it does come time to sit down to a meal. [17:28]

If you don’t try these things properly, you can crash and burn. Brad has learned a lesson by loosening the purse strings on his carb restriction. [19:51]

If you want to improve your dietary nutrient density and minimize your exposure to adverse ingredients, such as the high levels of polyunsaturated oils in feedlot animals like chicken, pork and turkey, you would transition over to more red meat and LESS chicken and pork and turkey. And be careful of the seafood you eat. [25:03]

As we age, we can learn to handle our stress less because of wisdom and experience. Everything is going to be okay. [30:09]

When we have an energy deficit, our body reacts with a generalized response called the stress response, which is primarily characterized by the release of stress hormones. [33:43]

If we instead have an energy surplus, we adapt by increasing the amount of energy we use.[40:13]

Brad talks about the confusion these theories bring. They are controversial, but interesting and compelling, needing more research. [44:54]

The bottom line is a diet not restricting yourself in the name of improving, but instead being sensible choosing wholesome, healthy, nutritious foods. Find foods you enjoy. [47:49]

When you provide your body with adequate resources and minimal energy demands, it adapts by increasing energy availability, allowing it to thrive and maximize its capabilities. [51:01]

Weigh yourself every day. If you are on the upper end of your range, you can probably increase the workout output. If you are on the lower end, it might be time to focus on increased replenishment. [54:11]

Brad discusses the optimal readings for the next time you get your blood tested. [56:07]

When looking at a group of world’s elite athletes in all the sports, generally they are paying attention to getting rid of the junk food as their main diet strategy. [01:01:14]

The essence of aging gracefully is to maintain your muscle mass. [01:07:00]


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