One Man’s Vices are Another Man’s Virtues

Still catching up with Mark Sisson, with 80 posts to go. I can't bear to just dump it; he's got so much good info. So, there might be a highlight or two. Like this one on "vices." On the consumption of lots of fat:

Don’t you love the look on peoples’ faces when you say that?

I do, and it's quite often. People I haven't seen in a while are now always commenting on "all the weight I've lost." I clarify: it's not weight that's important. What's important is that I have shed 50 pounds of fat and gained 20 pounds of lean muscle. I'm now benching 205, and that's after a 10-rep warm up at 135, then 5 reps at 185. When I began, I could not do 10 reps at 135. I weigh 30+ pounds less, yet am more than twice as strong as before. I used to be "big," and man could I get a good pump going in the gym. Fooling myself. I had ribeye steaks for muscles, i.e., much of the "big" was simply visceral fat. Now, my muscles are actually quite smaller in many instances, yet rock solid and very strong.

But yea, I love telling people my "secret." First and foremost, lots of fat — saturated fat (lard, butter, coconut oil, ghee, red palm oil, olive oil). Why? Because if you want a lean body, you've got to cut the carbs. But you've got to get the calories somewhere and it's pretty difficult to get them from ingesting more protein. Sugar (carbs) drives insulin; insulin drives fat storage. Eat a pound of fat or a loaf of bread, and the bread is what you're going to store as fat. This is solid fact. Also, fat calories are efficient in terms of volume. Makes everything taste way better, and there's more than twice as many cals per gram as for protein or carbs (9 vs. 4). I get about 60% of my calories from highly saturated fat.

Second is the working out, and I now challenge people to guess how much time I spend at the gym. Hours per week, they think. Nope; one hour, never, ever more, and that's in two session per week. Every few months I'll take a week off.

Next is the fasting. I'm now doing much more intermittent fasting than before. It can be no times per week, or three or even four days, but in that case it's usually 16-18 hour fasts. And, almost everyday I go at least 12 hours from my last intake at night to my first intake of the next day. I always, always work out in some degree of fast, i.e., not having eaten in at least 12 hours.

It's pretty clear that at the gym I go to, nobody has the results I have, so fast, and so unique in terms of upper-body leanness; particularly arms, upper back, and shoulders (belly has a ways to go). Word is getting around, my trainer has been telling other trainers what I do; and now they all know my name, I don't know theirs in most cases, and they're asking me what I'm doing. Everyone is most blown away by the working out fasted, and that I never eat post-workout for at least two hours, and it's often more. I some cases, it's an overnight fast, morning workout, and then nothing until dinner.

For most people, it just doesn't compute. Then I tell them my lipid panel and it's utter blank-out. The other day was the funniest, though. I was at the pub going over the same story with someone I've know for a reasonably long time. He's pretty fat, bordering on obese, and when I told him about the fasting, he told me that was "very bad" for my metabolism, and that he's a certified nutritionist. Uh, OK…


Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.

10 Comments

  1. Bill on August 3, 2008 at 19:42

    Congrats on your progress the more fat you eat the leaner you get.DR ATkins was the master.you go brother.

  2. Mark Sisson on August 4, 2008 at 10:13

    Thanks for the link, glad to hear you like my stuff. People have a hard time believing me to when I tell them I never put more than an hour in at the gym, and rarely even that. Keep up the good work, cheers!

  3. Richard Nikoley on August 4, 2008 at 10:54

    Mark:

    Very pleased to have you stop in. Among all the great out there, you and Art DV are among the greatest.

    Bill:

    Have your mother-in-law watch the first video by Sean Croxton here, "Is God Stupid?"

    https://web.archive.org/web/20081012065552/http://www.modernforager.com:80/blog/2008/07/30/underground-wellness-videos-real-food-and-cholesterol/

  4. Bill on August 4, 2008 at 08:29

    i just had a argument with my mother in law about eggs,she said there bad, and just could not believe i make a three egg yolk scramble with bacon every day.

  5. bob r on August 5, 2008 at 16:13

    The link above to the Sean Croxton video was cut off. This should work.

  6. Nan on February 20, 2010 at 04:33

    Can you talk some more about not eating for 2 hours after exercise? Back in the 80s I had an exercise teacher who told everyone that eating within 2 hours after exercise would cause the muscles to bulk up, and that refraining from eating would create toned muscles and weight loss. She and her employees were such believers that they’d actually skip their workout if there was any chance that they couldn’t go the 2 hours without eating! Since then, I’ve never gotten anyone to explain the mechanism at work here. Most trainers say that eating within that period helps feed or repair muscle.

    What’s your personal reason for extending your fast for 2 hours after exercise? Do you find you lose more fat if you fast during this period?

    • Richard Nikoley on February 21, 2010 at 12:33

      Nan:

      It’s not always 2 hours, at least not anymore (and this is an old post). Art De Vany often talked about going at least an hour to extend fat loss, that intense exercise causes temporary insulin resistance. So I never eat within an hour, but have gone as much as six on occasion and sometimes even a whole fast extending to a day.

      Since I don’t know what’s the optimal approach I try to mix things up, keep my body guessing.

      • Nan on February 21, 2010 at 18:00

        Thanks for the reply, Richard. It makes sense not to eat during the insulin-resistant phase. I heard on NPR over the weekend that a recent study shows that dolphins who fast overnight become temporarily diabetic during that time. One possibility for the reason is that dolphins, like humans, have a high cephalic index (i.e. big brains). Brains run on glucose (sugar), so dolphins need a way to raise their blood sugar to feed the brain when no food is available. Maybe something similar is happening when humans lower their blood sugar through exercise. Eating food during the time when the body is doing things to raise the blood sugar on its own is probably not a good idea.

        I also agree with the benefits of mixing things up. I have a big tendency to get comfortable in a routine, but keeping the body guessing probably helps prevent plateauing.

        I can’t say I’ve ever fasted for a day after a workout (most of my spontaneous fasts have been during periods of low activity), but…hey, you’ve given me something to think about shooting for!



      • Richard Nikoley on February 21, 2010 at 18:06

        I don’t have time to look in up right now (it’s in the fasting category) but if I go 24 hours fasted, test BG I’m in the 80s, generally. Then I go workout and test after, and I’m 100-105. Gluconeogenesis combined with temporary insulin resistance, but I think perfectly normal if not done too chronically.



  7. Nan on February 21, 2010 at 18:12

    Thanks! I’ll look it up. :)

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