Monday, June 17, 2013

Science-based life protocols: The Monday after weekend dietary blow outs

Going forward I would like to share some of the protocols I use to keep healthy and lean in a blog series called "Science-based life protocols".  I'm not going to have references to anywhere other than this blog so if you want to know more about the "why" behind the recommendation I will send you to different areas of this site and if you don't care you can just take the advice or leave it.  In this first blog I am going to cover what you should do exercise-wise after a weekend of eating like a lunatic.

Is this what your Mondays look like post-workout?
Taken from:

If you are like most people you have your fair share of dietary hedonism on the weekends, especially during the summer and the month of good weather leading up to it.  The typical response for the vast majority of those looking to get in shape is to blow themselves out with a hellacious workout on the Monday following that weekend.  Of the things you could do, this is probably one of the worst.  Let's examine some reasons why.

1)If alcohol was involved, your sleep was definitely affected.

During the weekends, I indulge in some fermented liquid grains.  While it is my intention to keep that consumption as early in the day as possible to prevent it from negatively impacting my sleep, that doesn't always happen.  Alcohol consumption tends to have a significant negative impact on sleep which in turn has a negative impact on insulin sensitivity.  Sure, you may pass out pretty easily, but the sleep you get for the rest of the night is far from high quality.  Going in to a Monday with poor sleep 2 out of 3 nights makes it a less than ideal day for a blow out workout.  In your head you are thinking you will work off all of the damage, but in reality you are doing more.

2)Give your gut a chance to heal

As I've discussed many times, damage to the gut lining is a significant problem if you want to lose fat because it can induce insulin resistance.  This causes a shift where your immune system imposes insulin resistance on your muscles and fat tissue to conserve glucose to fight foreign invaders.  This is beneficial and allows your immune system to work harder and faster to rid your body of an infectious agent.  When your muscles and fat tissue are insulin resistant, excess glucose is more likely to be converted to fat.  The problem is that despite being insulin resistant, this doesn't mean your muscle tissue cannot use glucose.  Insulin is used to store glucose in muscles during inactivity by increasing glucose transporters, but when you are active this same march of glucose transporters still happens, it just doesn't require insulin.  The more intense an activity the more glucose your muscles use.  As a result, glucose is being diverted to muscles and away from the cells of the immune system.  This could lengthen the amount of time it takes to re-establish proper blood glucose control and will certainly negatively impact your ability to burn fat.

3)Partition your resources wisely

In his book The Biology of Belief, Dr. Bruce Lipton takes a unique look at the differences between the immune system and the stress response system, aka the HPA axis.  According to Dr. Lipton, what it all comes down to is that the immune system is responsible for fighting stresses that are inside the body while the HPA axis or stress response is responsible for preparing the body to fight stresses outside the body.  The autonomic nervous system is responsible for partitioning your resources to the more pressing need and has 2 modes; rest/digest and fight or flight.  Under resting conditions the immune system gets most of the resources, but once you begin physical activity, especially intense physical activity, your resources are partitioned more toward the stress response while the immune system is put on hold.  In the same way that performing intense physical activity steals glucose away from the immune system, it also partitions your resources away from healing any damage you did over the weekend.  This is obviously not an ideal situation, and once you finish the intense physical activity you have have to go back to fighting the infection AND repairing the body from the damage of that physical effort.


We all like to have our fun on the weekends and throwing caution to the wind diet-wise is often a common occurrence.  What's the point in working your butt off all week just to sit inside and not enjoy yourself on the weekend?  If you do decide to kick your heals up and eat foods that are not in your best interest health-wise, it is also important to make wise decisions on what you should do on Monday.  Rather than beat yourself in to the ground with a crazy workout, why not go for a walk to burn off some of the fat and let the immune system have access to most of the glucose?  This will allow you to work some of the fat off AND heal from any gut damage you incurred over the weekend.