Getting the Metabolic Edge

By Dr. Michael Ruscio

The following are some notes from
my public lecture on metabolism:

Summary:

  • Hormones are the primary driver of metabolism
  • Diet, exercise and internal health all profoundly effect hormones
  • Dietary science has shifted from calorie counting (quantitative) to calorie type (qualitative)
  • Exercise science has shifted from calories burnt to hormones secreted
  • Inflammation, digestive health, infections and toxicity are the four most common internal factors that derange metabolism
  • Aim for a 2:1 resistance-training-to-cardio ratio
  • Use body weight/resistance type movements
  • Choose movements that require total body or at least more than one joint
  • Use higher reps – 12-15
  • Do a few exercises back to back with no rest in between. Push ups, squats, pull ups…rest… repeat

Below we see:

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Top left – Cushing’s Disease, a disease of high cortisol levels

Top middle – A body builder using mega-doses of steroids (hormones)

Top right – Someone with dwarfism due to low pituitry function

Bottom left – The worlds tallest man, who also had a pituitary tumor causing high levels of growth hormone

Bottom right – An anti-aging physician who injects hormones to have levels of a  25 year old

The take away is the hormones dictated how the body would look –
tall, fat, muscular, short….So calories are a slave to hormones.

Why does this matter?
Because we can very strongly impact hormones with diet and exercise.

Below is a chart depicting that, as we age, we decrease growth hormone – which keeps us lean, and increase cortisol – which destroys our muscle mass and causes increased belly fat.

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Below is a chart depicting that we are able to fight this decline with high VO2 max exercise (sprinting, burst training) – essentially working really hard for a short burst.
Note, this is the opposite of ‘cardio’.

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In fact, the Textbook of Medical Physiology by Guyton (below) suggests we can get more growth hormone from exercise than from sleep.

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Here is another great study showing that men who weight train end up having better testosterone secretions and less cortisol secretions.

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J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1989 Mar;29(1):9-26. PMID: 2671501

Other studies have show better growth hormone secretions with this type of exercise.

So we know we can achieve better growth hormone and testosterone levels with the appropriate exercise.  It will please you to know that if you eat the right way, you can pour gas on this metabolic fire we are creating.

Let’s now look at how blood sugar regulation ties in.

Effect on blood sugar with high starch, high carb, high whole grain, etc. meals: 

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Effect on blood sugar with lower carb., paleo-like meals:

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Now from Lippincott’s Textbook of Biochemistry we see the science version of this:

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When blood sugar goes high, you release insulin – meaning you are more likely to gain fat and have high blood sugar ,which eventually can lead to diabetes and other problems.

When you keep blood sugar controlled or in the sweet spot, you have better release of growth hormones and other energizing hormones. This provides you more energy and a better body comp.

Here what this change looks like on a cellular level:

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A high carb. diet elicits an insulin response, which shunts blood calories (yellow circles) into the fat cells and does not feed the power generating mitochondria. The result is you gain fat and are tired.

A controlled carb. diet elicits a growth hormone (GH) response which shunts blood calories into the mitochondria to be burnt for fuel and thus generates energy.  This results in having more energy and not gaining fat.

In summary

It appears better for one to eat less carbs. and to replace them with more fat, some protein and vegetables. If you are saying, “Well, if I eat fat, won’t that cause heart disease and make me fat?” the answer is no – current studies have disproven that notion.

Here are just a few examples (of many):

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Essentially, these studies showed that low a carb. diet provided better weight loss. Additionally, in some cases low carb. dieting was also as good as and ever better than high carb. dieting for your heart.

So the diet summary is as follows:

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I would make one tweak – If you need to lose weight, or if you tend to crave carbs, keep you carbs between 25-50 total grams/day.

When diet and exercise do not work, here is what you should look into:

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We just covered a lot.

Sorry if the info is a bit fragmented, but without writing a book I wanted to get across some major concepts.

I hope you find this helpful and feel free to contact me with questions

Discussion

I care about answering your questions and sharing my knowledge with you. Leave a comment or connect with me on social media asking any health question you may have and I just might incorporate it into our next listener questions podcast episode just for you!

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