“This is your world. Shape it or someone else will.”
– Gary Low
This is Our 3rd and FINAL Installment Of Our Interview With Nate Miyaki On His Intermittent FEAST Method.
For More Info On Nate’s Nutrition Advice Please Click HERE
Z: The right distribution of carbs and fats caught my attention. High fat, low carb, keto, it sounds like you have multiple diet plans based on where a person is at and where they want to go?
Nate: Absolutely man. It is no different than training. A wrestler’s training program is going to be different than a football player’s. A tough mudder’s different than a bodybuilder’s. A crossfitter’s different than a professional bar hopper’s.
Sure, the foundational elements like ensuring optimum mobility, using body weights and free weights as the primary training tools, and just overall bringing some kick a$$ intensity to the gym are going to be the same, but all of the details of the programming and progressions are going to be different based on the individual sport.
This principle of specificity seems to get lost in the diet industry. People try to slot everyone into one Universal diet system regardless of individual metabolic factors or goals. Do you really think an athlete busting a$$ with intense training sessions 5 days a week should be eating the same as his Auntie who is watching The Price is Right during that time? Or a healthy athlete with high insulin sensitivity should have the same plan as someone in a disease state just trying to survive?
But that’s what you get when you have coaches saying everyone everywhere needs to eat an ADA Diet, or a pure Paleo Diet, or a Ketogenic Diet, or whatever. You have sedentary populations following diets that are more suited for athletes, athletes following diets that are more suited for sedentary or diseased populations, and everyone across the board confused as hell.
Don’t get caught up in diet systems or cults. Simply use intelligent application like you would with your training protocols.
Z: Makes sense, even I get confused sometimes with all of the information that is out there. Can you give us some examples?
Nate: Dude I was confused for years, and this is my area of expertise. It wasn’t until I really started merging my nutritional studies with my background in exercise physiology that I started to tie up some loose ends and really come to what I believe is a comprehensive approach. And I call it an approach, not a diet, because there are multiple diet templates based on a variety of situations.
On a side note, this was also about the time I made an effort to start being more productive and to stop wasting so much time on porn sites. I narrowed it down to 1-2 sites and set a time limit. I now take a minimalist approach with everything I guess.
So for example, I love the Paleo Diet for certain demographics. I think it does a great job of removing some of the most problematic modern compounds from the average person’s diet (HFCS, sugar, trans fats, vegetable oils, gluten, etc.), specifically for those who don’t know much about nutrition.
In terms of physiology and fuel dynamics, I think it’s a great approach too.
In determining energy nutrient intake, you must first assess how many carbohydrates you need, and for what reasons. A sedentary person is not exercising and burning through muscle glycogen stores (300-600g depending on body size), so they do not need to worry about replenishing them. High carbohydrate diets are more appropriate for athletes that undergo the cyclical depletion (through training/exercise) and repletion (through Sports Nutrition principles) of muscle glycogen stores.
Sedentary populations really only need to worry about providing adequate carbohydrates to fuel the brain and central nervous system at rest, which is primarily regulated by liver glycogen stores (assuming a non-ketogenic diet). This can be accomplished with roughly 100-125g of carbs a day (this does not vary much with weight and gender, as the liver is roughly the same size regardless of those two variables).
This is why research shows that lower carb Paleo/Caveman-style diets may be the best approach for improving body composition and biomarkers of health for obese, insulin resistant, and sedentary populations. Get in a calorie deficit, eat adequate protein, get roughly 100-125g of carbs from unlimited vegetables and a few pieces of fruit, and make up the rest of your calories from healthy fats, and you have yourself one hell of plan.
But ANAEROBIC exercise completely changes the name of the game. Exercise creates a unique metabolic environment, an altered physiological state, and changes the way your body processes nutrients for up to 48 hours after completion of a training session.
If you exercise intensely 3 or more days a week, than your body is virtually in a recovery mode 100% of the time. It is in an altered physiological state beyond pure resting conditions 100% of the time, thus its nutritional needs are completely different than sedentary populations.
If the training program is different, the diet should be different. That’s just common sense my friend.
Z: That’s a good point. OK, so we work with a lot of CrossFit athletes, and The Paleo Diet is popular in these circles. What is your opinion on Paleo?
Nate: This is just my opinion, but I think that is one of the worst training-diet mismatches known to mankind. Most people feel great when they start with this combination, largely because of the removal of crap from their diet. But eventually their progress stalls, plateaus, and then even reverses. They become frustrated that despite very hard training, their results are mediocre at best.
That’s just from a physique standpoint, which is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Even worse, many quietly suffer from more serious side effects. The reason? Their diet doesn’t match, or support, their training protocol.
But they keep trudging along for fear of not being “hardcore” enough, or from being ousted from the group, or whatever. I have nothing against the training protocol itself, I just hate the blind following of creeds despite what harm it may be doing to the individual.
Keep busting a$$ training for sure, but I believe a more informed and targeted nutritional approach will ensure that world-class effort ultimately pays off.
I have some questions for those out there combining very low carb diets with very high levels of anaerobic training
1. Is your performance suffering, have you lost muscle, got a bad case of the Skinny-Fat Syndrome?
The anaerobic energy production pathway (what we use when strength training) runs on glucose/carbs. It can’t use lipids or ketones. While the body can use fatty acids as fuel at rest, and even those who train only in the aerobic zone can become “fat adapted”, high intensity muscular contractions require glucose. Therefore, the lack of carbohydrates on a low-carb diet will eventually lead to muscle loss, because the body will break down amino acids to provide the necessary glucose to fuel high intensity activity.
And intense anaerobic training is actually a highly catabolic activity. You need to offset that with an anabolic recovery period, including carbs and insulin, to ensure that training stimulus triggers muscle growth, increased strength and power, etc. No hormone your body makes is inherently good or bad. Insulin can be very beneficial at times for the athlete.
2. Does your sex drive suck, would you rather play video games than hang out with bikini babes?
What good is a six-pack if you have a lifeless noodle hanging between your legs (or whatever the female equivalent would be)?
Sufficient carbohydrate intake supports free testosterone and an optimum free testosterone:cortisol ratio in response to high intensity activity. Our industry focuses on how important dietary fat is for supporting natural testosterone levels in all populations, but carbohydrates play a role specifically for athletes and regular exercisers.
If you’re hitting the juice or testosterone replacement therapy to compensate, it doesn’t matter so much. But if you’re doing it naturally, you need a more informed approach.
3. Feel like your metabolism is shot, still flabby/soft despite high amounts of training?
Low carb diets coupled with intense training protocols can impair thyroid production and sabotage normal metabolic rate. More specifically, low carb diets can impair the conversion of t4 thyroid hormone to its more active T3 form.
4. Suffering from insomnia? Are you grumpy, depressed, and just generally a d*ck to everyone around you?
A carb-depleted state can effect natural production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which affect mood states and the ability to induce sleep.
5. Getting sick all of the time? Catching every cold that comes around?
Hard training can temporarily suppress the immune system, and adequate carbohydrate intake can support it.
6. Do you have a constant burning sensation when you urine?
That’s for a different reason buddy, and I can’t help you with that. Go see your doctor, and wrap it up next time.
What’s the take home message? Just frickin’ trust me man, there is no one Universal diet that works for everyone. While a sedentary person overdosing on carbs can have drastic negative health and body composition effects, a shortage of carbs combined with consistent anaerobic training can be just as disastrous.
Z: Dude, you crushed this QnA like a MadMan. This has been a lot of info coming at us, in a GOOD way. Can you give us a take-home message?
Nate: I know man. Sorry. Sometimes you have to get more technical in order to simplify. But remember, all of that is “the why”. The “what to do”, if you remember, is really simple.
If you’re sedentary or only perform low-intensity/aerobic exercise, lean more towards the Paleo template.
If you perform high-intensity anaerobic activity on a consistent basis, lean more towards The Japanese Village template.
But let me see if I can give you a simple analogy to bring this thing home.
It is like gas in your car. If your Shagging Station Wagon just sits in the garage collecting dust, it doesn’t need gas. Loading up on starchy carbs is like trying to fill up a full tank. It just spills over the side. In the human body, that overspill equates to body fat storage, and a host of other negative effects — like elevated triglycerides, cholesterol, and insulin resistance.
However, if you drive a Bad A$$ Ferrari around town every day, sometimes for long mileage, sometimes carrying a few extra babes with you, you have to fill up the tank often. If you don’t, you will run out of gas. An empty tank in the human body equates with becoming tired, depressed, lethargic, irritable, impaired performance, muscle loss, stubborn fat, frustrated that despite dieting your body is not changing, etc.
For those who fear the carb during shredding phases, what’s lost in this whole damn low carb debate is total calories, which is still one of the most important steps in the fat loss process (not the ONLY step, but a damn important one).
If you strength train AND maintain a relative calorie deficit, you can still include some starchy carbs in the diet while losing significant amounts of body fat.
And the best part is you get better muscle retention, maintain normal hormone production, don’t screw up your metabolism, and don’t set yourself up for huge post-dieting rebounds.
Why am I so passionate about this fight?
I suffered a lot of the drawbacks of combining low-carb diets with high intensity training myself. This natural pervert was suddenly neutured, I was getting sick all of the time, I was at my most skinny-fat despite training all of the time, etc. I hope to help people avoid the same mistakes and struggles I went through.
The key is adding back in the right “types” of carbs. I still try to keep the sugar out, as well as compounds that can be problematic from a food allergen or digestive health standpoint (lactose in milk, gluten, lectins in beans & legumes, and phytates in most cereal grains).
That’s why I use that Japanese Village template = just stick to rice and root vegetables baby.
Z: Nate Dog, once again braddah, HUUUUGE thanks for your time. You are THE Man for your commitment to this long interview, the comments and we ALL got massive respect and thanks to you!
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