Ryan Baxter: Eating More Calories To Lose Fat And Perform Better


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It’s my pleasure to introduce a very interesting conversation with Primal Health Coach Ryan Baxter.

Ryan is an ordinary guy living a pretty normal life with an everyday job as a software engineer, with two kids, a wife, and a busy family life, but he’s also a fitness enthusiast who works frequently with everyday clients, giving him a lot of street knowledge to share in this episode. We talk about some of these big picture concerns that have been my obsession lately on the show regarding the Energy Balance insights from Jay Feldman and the role of diet in peak performance, recovery, and fat reduction.

Ryan is a self-described data nerd—he even has a metabolic cart in his house (a scientific device that tells you the ratio of carbs to fat you are burning during exercise). We talk about one very interesting thing he has been doing over the last year which has been to consume more daily calories, to the tune of 700 additional calories per day for an entire year. Guess what? His body composition was exactly the same—optimal and under 10% body fat. This opens up the dialogue to call into question or to look at a bigger perspective of the so-called constrained model of energy expenditure. We talk through these insights and how they might apply to, for example, the information Dr. Pontzer has shared on the show about the constrained model of energy expenditure.

Emerging research suggests the constrained model is largely relevant to people in a caloric deficit, such as a hunter gatherer striving to get enough calories a day to survive, versus those of us in the modern world who have caloric abundance. If you are able to access sufficient food to fuel your busy, energetic day, then the constrained model doesn’t apply as much as the not so familiar additive model. In the additive model, if you do consume more calories as Ryan described, you will find ways to become more energetic—and that is a good thing. This allows you to perform good workouts, to build and maintain lean muscle mass and maintain excellent cognitive function all day and turn up all those dials that I talk about to optimize your reproduction, repair, growth and locomotion. This show will be particularly relevant to those of us who practice extreme devotion to health and fitness and who are experimenting or have experimented with restrictive diets while also pursuing peak performance goals (both fitness and cognitive), as well for anyone wanting to live an energetic, happy, healthy, balanced lifestyle.


Can you consume vastly more calories and maintain body composition? [01:24]
When you burn a lot of energy, you slow down in other areas. [06:40]

Today’s elite athlete does six times the energy expenditure of the busiest hunter gatherer. [08:35]

The energy balance theory is controversial. Should we eat more carbs? Should we be fasting? [12:42]

When Ryan works with his clients, he has found they unintentionally have lost weight even when adding more foods to their diets. [21.23]

The body starts shutting some stuff down if it has to steal energy from somewhere else. [28:35]

The constrained model implies that you are going to hit this calorie burning ceiling no matter what you do. [32:47]

The entry point is to eliminate processed foods. [37:18]

Fasting turns on stress hormones but there are occasions where it is done. [41:09]

Everyone should eat the widest range of food they possibly can, according to Ryan. [46:15]

Keep an eye on your blood work. Brad’s triglycerides were too low on his last test. [54:22]

Only one percent of American males are under 10% or below body fat. [01:09:06]


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