Unlock the secrets to a fitness program that truly understands you. With 35 years of experience under my belt, I've designed year-long programs tailored specifically for men and women, taking into account the unique biological blueprints that impact our fitness journeys. From hormonal cycles to muscle mass differences, this episode peels back the layers on why a one-size-fits-all approach to exercise just doesn't cut it. And it's not just about gender; we'll explore how customizing workouts to align with your individual fitness level, abilities, and mental state can revolutionize the way you train. Dr. Herman Pontzer weighs in with his groundbreaking research on energy expenditure, which might just upend everything you thought you knew about the correlation between exercise and energy.
Ever consider how your metabolism acts as your body's stress manager, responding to the highs and lows of daily life? This episode dives into the intricate dance between metabolism, stress response, and the effects of exercise, revealing why sometimes less can be more. By introducing the concept of rest-based training—an approach I've fine-tuned over the years—we discuss how strategic breaks can actually enhance your workout effectiveness. This isn't just theory; it's backed by real-world applications and studies on elite athletes that support the remarkable benefits of tuning into your body's needs. Whether you're a seasoned athlete or just starting your fitness journey, this conversation promises to shift your perspective on what it means to work out smarter, not harder.
Get Metabolic Female: www.nextlevelhuman.com/metabolic-female
Get Metabolic Male: www.nextlevelhuman.com/metabolic-male
Welcome to the show everybody. My name is Dr J T, I am your host of the next level human podcast, and today we are talking exercise, picking up right where we left off in the last episode, and part of the reason that I'm covering exercise is because I just launched two programs, actually year-long programs. One is called the metabolic female program metabolic female 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0. These are four different programs specifically designed for women, and each program is 12 weeks. This is a year worth of workouts, progressed in just the way that I would do things with you if you were working out with me as a personal trainer, and this is follow-along workouts. You can find them on JT to calm under metabolism, and I did the same thing under the metabolism tab. Rather, you can find these workouts there. They're released under my company, next level human, by the same name of this podcast. And also I did the same thing for men. Last episode I talked about the differences between why you might want to create a program specifically designed for men versus women. Now, part of the thing that we need to understand, as I mentioned in the last episode, is that certainly, men and women can change exact our train, exactly the same. They can do the exact same workouts and get great results, and there may not be any need at all to train differently. So certainly women can do the metabolic male workouts and get good results, and men could do the metabolic female workouts and get great results. However, men and women may also benefit from working out in a way that is more specific to the biology of a male and female. For example, women have two major sex steroids, estrogen and progesterone. Men have just one, testosterone. Female hormones fluctuate throughout the month, so there are four distinct, maybe even five distinct, hormonal states for women as they go through their menstrual cycle. There's only one state that we know of for men. Throughout the month, we also know that women go through four, maybe even five, hormonal stages in their life puberty, perhaps pregnancy, perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. And, despite the diagnostic terminology, these are distinct hormonal states in terms of the relative ratios of estrogen and progesterone. And, of course, men go through basically to puberty and then possibly andropause. So there are many differences between men and women in the way they might want to train because of these hormonal differences. We also met know through the research that women tend to be more endurance oriented. Men tend to be more strength. Dominated women tend to burn more fat calories during workouts, less fat calories afterwards. In other words, they don't get as much of an afterburn. Men tend to burn more sugar calories during workouts and more fat after the workout. They get more of an afterburn. This is largely probably a result of increased muscle mass for men. All of this was covered in the last episode. Today, what I want to do is cover a little bit more about exercise and individualizing exercise. So obviously we can individualize workouts to one degree into male and female, because, regardless of what our current culture says in terms of some of the gender debates and things like that that are going on, there are real biological sex differences between men and women. This is the whole reason why now and, by the way, a lot of the transgender research is really useful for us, because we can actually see the impact and have a large amount of people now showing the impact of estrogen, progesterone versus testosterone therapies on metabolism. These things make a difference and they make a pretty significant difference in my opinion. Of course, many researchers and many clinicians will debate this and whether this is even necessary, but of course, I'm coming at this from a clinical point of view because I've been doing this work as a personal trainer since the age of, you know, 15 years old, so that's 35 years as a personal trainer. Basically, I'd never stopped doing it. I still make an awful lot of my money and income off of workouts. You know, I just produced brand new workouts and so I've been doing this for a very long time, and what I have seen is that there are differences. I have seen that women training, along with women training a particular way, seem to get better results. Now, in order to know this for sure, we would need to do the studies, because, for all we know, this could just be a psychological effect. We do not know for sure. There is not a lot of research in this area, but it is coming along. We are starting to look at menstrual cycle phases and all of that kind of stuff and how that might impact how a woman should train and whether they can burn fat or not and all of these kinds of things. So, from my perspective, obviously, I think there is a difference between male and female physiology. That is a no-duh from my point of view. And then the idea is well, to what extent could we alter exercise parameters to benefit the female specific hormonal situation versus the male specific hormonal situation. And again, that is all covered in the previous episode to this one. In this episode, what I want to do is go a little bit further into individualizing workouts, because obviously one level deep is individualizing based on gender. Another level deep is individualizing based on physical fitness level and physical abilities and even psychological state with that particular work out. I mean, let's face it, we don't always have the energy, the motivation to drive every single day to train the exact same way, and what I'm gonna discuss in this particular episode is that with work outs they can be overdone, they absolutely can be overdone. And let's go through a little bit of this real quick, just based on statistics we actually know now and this is a lot of the work coming out of duke university with herman ponsor, and the study that I'm really gonna be looking at right now is a study from the february twenty sixteen Issue in current biology. The title of that article is constrained total energy expenditure and metabolic adaptation to physical activity in adult humans. And what doctor ponsor has shown and this is highlighted in his book burn I've had him on this particular podcast. You can go back and look at that particular episode where he walks us through why exercise may not be very good at helping with weight loss. There are probably two major reasons for this, but one of these reasons is highlighted in this particular study in february twenty sixteen journal current biology. This is the one by ponsor, and what he essentially showed there is that For individuals exercising, we normally think of exercise as an additive type of thing. In other words, if I know my basal metabolic rate, my resting energy expenditure I'm using those two terms interchangeably this is basically the amount of calories I burn at rest. If I was doing nothing all day, just sitting on the couch or laying in bed, I would burn a certain amount of calories. So let's say, my resting energy expenditure slash basal metabolic rate is two thousand calories. That's what I burn without doing anything else. And then I go and do a thirty minute high intensity workout and burn three hundred calories. Now most people would say okay, will you burn twenty three hundred calories Through the day? And additive type of situation where I take my resting energy expenditure and just add on any calories that I burn throughout the day to bring bring me to twenty three hundred calories. Except for research shows, this is not actually how this works. So for the first couple workouts and the first couple days, maybe the first couple weeks, depending on the individual, we do do an additive type thing. Maybe I am burning twenty three hundred calories and maybe I'm getting some results. But what herman ponzer's work has shown is that this additive effect quickly gives way to the constrained metabolism effect, or the budgeting metabolism. In other words, the metabolism becomes a budget and instead of burning twenty three hundred calories total, I'm still maybe burning the same amount inside that workout, but I budget energy use in other areas. So I start to budget and rob and slow down metabolic rate in other areas to account for the increased in metal, increase metabolic rate through exercise so that I get closer back to two thousand calories. So that is one particular reason why exercise does not work and herman ponzer and his team have shown this. And this is a shocking mechanism. But it also explains why a lot of people don't get Any effects from exercise. Now we also know from this research that this is variable, it is individual. Some people are gonna get more or less of a response of this budgeting effect. Some research suggest on average Individuals who are having this constrained effect can adjust their metabolic rate from somewhere from two hundred three hundred calories. In other words, if I'm burning two hundred three hundred calories in a workout, I can easily offset that just through this constrained budgeting effect that the metabolism is doing. Now add on to this another individualized impact that exercise can have, and that is increased hunger. Not everybody responds to increased exercise with increased hunger, but a significant amount of people do. In the same way that this constrained metabolic response to exercise is likely Individualized and having more or less of an effect on certain people, in the same way that that is going on, we're having individualized effects in Hunger and cravings. And one study that I'll highlight here, that I often times highlight, that you probably heard me talk about before, is in august twenty seventeen study in the international journal of obesity. This study was titled dose response effects of aerobic exercise on energy compensation in post menopausal women. Combine results from two randomized control trials, those randomized control trials with alpha and beta trials out of canada, and basically what this study showed is that these women, who were told not to make any changes in their diet, consciously we're put on a year long exercise program and essentially there were three different groups. One group did thirty minutes of aerobic exercise five times per week. Another group did forty five minutes and another group did sixty minutes. That is a lot of aerobic exercise. And they were followed over the course of a year to see how much weight that they would lose, and they were told not to consciously change their diet. So what do you think happened? Some people did lose weight. In fact, about ten percent lost a little bit more weight than would have been predicted. Almost everyone else seventy five percent or so saw either no change in their weight at all or twenty six percent saw weight gain. Let me say that again, a small percentage lost weight. About twenty five percent lost weight. Ten percent lost more weight than predicted. However, fifty percent saw no real change. Maybe they were up slightly or down slightly, but no real significant change in their weight. But, shockingly, twenty six point six percent roughly twenty five percent of these women saw weight gain due to compensation in energy intake as a result of the exercise. They were doing so even though they were told consciously, don't change your diet. They actually increased food intake unconsciously, not to mention some of this compensation that Herman Ponzer has showed us was probably going on as well. So the first thing that we need to understand is that Exercise and its ability to help us lose weight is going to be variable, and for most people it does not seem to be a very good tool for weight loss, and this is documented in many, many, many areas. But if you want the the full sort of take on this, I recommend Herman Ponzer's book Burn, or just check out his episode that he and I did together on this podcast a few years back. So this tells us that, individually speaking, not everyone and in fact, based on the research I've just shown you, especially in that post-menopausal women's study perhaps most will not lose weight with exercise, and a significant amount is probably gonna actually gain weight or potentially gain weight. Now, of course, if you listen to all the debate out there in social media land, there are many, many people who get very up in arms about this research, and rightly so. It diver, it deserves debate, but to me, the research is pretty clear on this, and some of the best researchers in the country in this area have also written books on this, herman Ponzer once again being one of them, and so we have to realize this now. The next question that we need to go to is we need to go. Why is this the case and can we make any sense of who this happens to and why it happens? And there is many theories and speculations here and I'm gonna give you mine now. Of course, this is my opinion, my speculation, my theory. It does not mean this is research based, it does not mean we have a definitive answer here, but I'm gonna give you my take on this. The way I see metabolism is that metabolism, at its very core, at its essence, its primary job, what it does is it is a sensing and responding apparatus. What is it sensing? Stress, what is it responding to stress? So the metabolism is sensing and responding to stress. We use our senses, our sight, our taste, our touch, our hearing, our smell, our ability to measure and in sense what's in the outside world, and measure that stress food availability, light, what season it is, etc. The brain gathers all that information. The brain also gathers all the information internally from the signals that the internal body is sending. What's the liver saying, what's the gut saying, what's the muscle saying, what's the adipose tissue saying? And these are all hormonal responses. For example, the muscles release myokines which communicate with other body parts in the brain. The fat cells release lipokines, which are adipokines which speak to other parts of the body and the brain. The liver releases signaling molecules. Every part of the body releases signaling molecules. The brain is collecting those, along with all the information from the outside world, measuring the stress response and the need inside the body and plotting a course back to homeostasis. This is the whole point of the metabolism, and so, if we understand that, we can start to make some theoretical predictions or guesses as to why the physiology responds to exercise with increased hunger and cravings and a budgeting or constrained energy use, based on what we saw in these other studies. Why would the body be doing that? Well, one of the things that is conserved in human physiology, in human metabolism, is the conservation of energy due to the propensity for starvation. In other words, in simple terms, we humans evolved on this planet and for the vast majority of our existence, food was not guaranteed. The major thing we had to worry about was not excess food, but rather not enough food. Starvation was a very real response. In fact, it was the prime directive of the metabolism don't starve, right, get food, don't starve, so that anytime the physiology is under stress, perhaps we can say that it defaults back to this primitive stress mechanism, this primitive starvation response. Now Herman Ponzer has shown budgeting of energy use. This could be a starvation response. We've also seen increase in hunger and cravings. This makes sense as a starvation response. What else would the body do when it feels like it is under stress and it perceives that stress as starvation? It's gonna budget its energy reserves and it's gonna try to take in more energy, and this makes sense, doesn't? So perhaps what is going on here is that exercise, when it is taken too far, becomes a stress to the physiology and triggers a starvation response, and perhaps this is why it can trigger this budgeting metabolic constraint and this excess hunger and cravings. Now we can also go. If that's the case, then why might women in particular, to be more sensitive to this? Well, women are the gender of child bearing. Females need to not just account for starvation for themselves, but they need to plan and predict whether or not a baby can be brought to term, and this is why the female physiology is perhaps more sensitive and refined than the male physiology and may respond differently and perhaps get more of this constrained budgeting response by the way, that's a question that has not yet been answered in research and get more of this hunger and craving response from exercise again, not something research has completely worked out, but it would make sense, and I have certainly seen this clinically and what we then need to account for is these differences in hormones between men and women. So let's just review, because I know this can be a little bit confusing and I know I'm going fast here. The first thing we said is that for a significant amount of people, the metabolism budgets downwards, and so we're not actually getting the same calorie burn that we think we would from exercise. We also said that for a significant amount of people, we have hunger and cravings as a result of exercise. These two points are very well worked out in the research. What I then added on theoretically as a hypothesis, is that perhaps this is because exercise can be a stress and metabolism is always adapting and addressing stress, and if exercise is taken too far, that can be a stress. And I also hypothesized that women may be more susceptible to this because they are trying to help predict their own survival in starvation and also predict whether they could bring a baby to term as well. So they need more tools and as evidence for this, by the way, one of the things we know that in the luteal phase of a female's menstrual cycle this is post-ovulation progesterone rises and progesterone causes the female physiology to be more insulin insensitive or insulin resistant. Why would this be important, if my hypothesis is correct? Well, if a baby is potentially coming along, which would be when the body starts to understand post-ovulation if that egg gets fertilized, the brain would start getting signals and metabolism would start getting signals that hey, we have a fetus. We need to start providing for this fetus, and the best way to do that would to become insulin resistant in certain tissues so that there's more blood sugar and blood fat slash triglycerides for this new fetus. This would make sense. Now, if you understand all that, then we can start getting into the rest of this discussion and why I developed metabolic female and metabolic male programs the way that I did. The first thing we need to understand is that we know that. We already know that no exercise, no movement, is a stress for the physiology, and I oftentimes talk about this as the gap between calorie intake and output. If you're someone who doesn't move at all and just eats like crazy ie the Western couch potato that is a stress for the physiology, not a lot of calories being burned, a lot coming in, that can gunk up the works not a scientific term but that can cause a lot of dysfunction metabolically and stress for the physiology. Likewise, though, if you have someone who's exercising like crazy, burning a bunch of calories but not taking in enough calories and the calorie gap widens in that direction, that can also be a stress. And how do we know that the metabolism is under stress? Well, we talked about it hunger, energy, cravings and budgeting low metabolic rates. Well, isn't it funny that couch potatoes and chronic exercisers seem, to a significant amount of them, be overeating quite a lot, and so we see this hunger, energy and cravings H, e, c or heck being out of check for both couch potatoes and chronic dieters. So then the situation would be well, how do we get exercise? Just right? We obviously don't want to not move at all. That's not good for the metabolism, that's stressful. But we don't want to overexercise, because we're starting to see that's not good for the metabolism and that might be stressful. So how do we then get the Goldilocks zone, especially realizing that everyone is different and, by the way, everyone is different hormonally. And let me just point out another research study that actually shows this. So this was two studies by the same research group published in the March 2008 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. This was volume 22, number two, and basically what this study did was it looked at different exercise routines or protocols. This was done on men, by the way, and it basically looked at these different exercise protocols. One protocol was a very high repetition low weight protocol. Another protocol was a very low repetition high weight protocol, and then there were two other protocols in between this, and so they looked at training with heavy weights for low reps, training with light weights for high reps and a couple other things, and then they looked to see the hormonal responses, the testosterone cortisol responses, in these men. One of the things we know from research, or suspect in research, is that the greater the testosterone cortisol ratio related to exercise, the better the muscle gaining affects perhaps, and so these researchers wanted to determine which of these protocols had the better testosterone cortisol ratios, which got more testosterone release and less cortisol, and what they found, perhaps surprisingly, was it wasn't a one size fits all thing. Some people got better results in testosterone cortisol ratios from the lower weights higher reps. Some people got better testosterone cortisol ratios, from the higher weights, lower reps, and it was all over the place. Some men responded differently depending on the protocol. So they did a follow up study where they basically said okay, well, let's give the protocol to these men to follow for a certain amount of time, but they did the best on hormonally speaking, and what they found was the results were very, very good. In other words, whenever a person responded better to a particular protocol and then was given that protocol as their training regime, they had better results in terms of hypertrophy and adaptations to strength training. And this essentially tells us that hormonal responses to exercise are going to be varied and individualized, and if we can adapt these protocols to the person, we might get better results. And now I want to talk to you about another study that looked at rest periods and using rest as a measure of intensity. One of the things that we know is that intensity in exercise is very closely related to results in exercise, and so the idea is we want to train intensely enough to elicit results in training. However, what we've just said is we don't want to train too hard, because that can cause hunger, energy and cravings and some of this budgeting effect, and we don't want to train too little, because then we might not get any adaptation responses. So we need the Goldilocks zone, and we need the Goldilocks zone for each individual. So is there a way to individualize workouts for people not just men versus women, but for each individual? And there was an interesting study in the January 2011 issue of psychophysiology. The title of that article was self-pacing and interval training a teleoanticipatory approach. Basically, interval training is a popular training concept because it is really looking at maximizing intensity and it uses rest. A lot of people think rest and work are opposites. They're actually synergists. In other words, the harder you work, the more you're gonna have to rest, and the more you rest, the harder you'll be able to work. But interval training is really tough because it can be too hard for some and not hard enough for others. In other words, if I say, hey, I want you to go as hard as you can for one minute and then rest for a minute, and I want you to repeat that 20 times, if you're an elite athlete, you might be able to do that. If you're a couch potato, you probably wouldn't be able to do that. It's gonna be way too intense. Some of the elite athletes, it might not be intense enough. So how do we adjust this? Well, what this study actually looked at is it said okay, there were two parts to this. The first part was let's find out what the optimal rest period is for these groups of elite athletes. This was a group of elite runners and what they did is they looked at one minute rest, two minute rest and four minute rest, and the research on these runners found that one minute was too short for them. They needed a little bit more rest to completely recover. In all the parameters that the researchers were measuring things like lactate recovery and heart rate recovery and things like that and the four minutes was too long and these researchers actually showed it okay. Well, two minutes, it seems, for most of these guys, is basically where the optimal recovery happens, where they can push again. That's the Goldilocks zone. Then they repeated this study where they actually said okay, we're gonna now have these people either go through a two minute interval and a couple other different intervals, or we're gonna have one group that we're just gonna allow them to push until they can't rest, until they can basically Start when you're ready. And what they were testing there is to see can people individuals actually self select the Goldilocks zone, self select the best intensity, the best rest period to maximize intensity, and in this study they actually showed that the men basically came out around 118 seconds of self selected rest, which is almost identical to the 120 seconds that they determined was optimal. In other words, this study and other studies like it have shown that not only can humans self select exercise intensity and recover, that they don't actually, when giving the ability to rest and self select intensity, they don't actually work less hard, they work harder and, more importantly, they work in this optimal zone. So all of this together tells us that we can absolutely individualize workouts for people and perhaps have a situation where we can take men and women, have them do the same workout, but just simply tell them push until you can't rest, until you can, let them decide when to rest and for how long, and they just get right back into the workout when they are ready. Now, this is a technique that I developed back in the early 2000s called rest-based training or rest-based workouts, and it is based on the acronym REST, r-e-s-t. The R stands for rest-based, which basically means, instead of worrying about how hard you're working, we don't want you focusing on work. We want you focusing on rest. We want you to rest when you need it and rest throughout the workout. Don't try to keep going. It's not to keep going. Workout. It is the know when to stop and rest, workout, and the phrasing that we like to use, or that I taught in this course, was push until you can't, rest until you can, which goes right along with this particular study and these group of studies that I am explaining to you Now. The E is extrinsic focus, which means that, rather than having you focus on what you're feeling like the fact that you're breathless, your body's burning, your body's straining these workouts move very fast. There's a lot of talking, there's rep schemes that have you counting in your head to keep track of things, and that is to keep you thinking about what you're doing versus what you're feeling, because if you start focusing on intrinsic sensations, you may not push as hard, and so the E stands for focus on what you're doing, not what you're feeling. Extrinsic focus the S stands for self-determination. Self-determination theory is very popular in psychology and has been proven that when people have ownership over what they're doing, including exercise, they actually are more consistent with it. In this case, if you give people ownership over when they rest, when they push, how long they rest, how hard they push, and even adjusting the exercises to make them easier or harder, based on their physical abilities, they do better in the workouts. They also continue to be more consistent with those workouts. And the final aspect here is T or time-based, which means when we're doing intense exercise, we have to make it shorter, and the research in high-intensity interval training has shown that you don't want exercises that is too long. The more intense a workout is, the shorter it's going to be, and so rest-based workouts in the metabolic male and metabolic female workouts are very short, in fact, they are only 15 minutes roughly in time, and they are a super intense 15 minutes but super intense for you. So they basically get the ideal intensity for adaptation for you. You'll be resting, working, pushing, resting etc. Throughout the workout to particularly design it specifically to you, your fitness levels and your physical abilities. And from my perspective, this is going to optimize the hormonal responses just for you. It's going to keep the workout safe just for you. It's going to be enough, but not too much. The Goldilocks zone just for you. And then the idea here is that this will decrease the stress response of overdoing it from the workout. So you get less of this constrained budgeting stuff that has been shown by Ponzer and less hunger and craving responses. And while I do not have research to show this is actually the case, I have tons and tons of clinical experience, especially in women. Millions of women perhaps are in fact that have done the metabolic renewal program, millions of men and women combined who have done the metabolic prime program. And those programs metabolic renewal and metabolic prime are workouts that preceded metabolic female and metabolic male. And so this is what I want you thinking about now, whether you ever do any of my workouts. What I want you to consider is that when you are exercising, harder is not better, better is better, smarter is better. The Goldilocks zone is better. So you want to make sure that you're getting the intensity right, the duration right and the frequency right. You don't want workouts that are too long, too intense or too frequent. Of course, you don't want workouts that are also not intense, not long enough and too infrequent. This is where rest-based training comes in, and you can use these concepts even when you're designing your own workouts. That's the first thing that I want you to be aware of, and I also want you to be aware of, that stress is the enemy of weight loss because of this budgeting effect and this hunger, energy and craving response. So, whatever you do, it is imperative if you want to get results from exercise you don't want your over-exercising habit to turn into your overeating habit that you get the individualization of exercise and I'm hoping that, going through this science and teaching you a little bit about rest-based training or rest-based workouts, you will be able to optimize your results through exercise this year. Now, if you go to nextlevelhumancom slash metabolic-female and nextlevelhumancom slash metabolic-male, you will find sample workouts on those pages for you to do, so you can feel what rest-based training is like. Rest-based training is very difficult to really truly understand until you actually do it and you'll be working right along with me. All you need is a couple sets of dumbbells to do these workouts. In fact, you'll actually see that each workout has different models. One model is the advanced model, one's an intermediate model and one is a beginner model, and in the beginner model they're actually oftentimes using no weights at all and you'll see how we handle that. But I'm very excited for you to get a chance to really experience these workouts and perhaps get involved getting these workouts for the entire year. I hope this episode was useful for you. I hope you learned something, whether you ever do any of my workouts or not. I hope you can learn from some of this science and start getting better results from your workouts. All right, thank you so much, everybody. I hope you're having a great 2024 so far and I will see you next time.