Tag Archives: workout

Speeding Up Your Metabolism | The Paleo Diet

A fast metabolism has wide appeal to modern humans, yet, it is exactly what our hunter-gatherer ancestors avoided to survive during periods of food scarcity. We are genetically designed to store extra calories, so what you feel is a sluggish metabolism, is actually a life saving measure to buy time to find your next meal.

In times of food scarcity (or self-inflicted calorie restriction), insulin-stimulated glucose uptake by tissues is reduced, which prevents the body from relying on protein from muscle tissue as a product for endogenous glucose production.1 This process provided hunter-gatherers the ability to endure famine by retaining more muscle mass to support the physical demands of fleeing from predators and fruitful hunting. Individuals with metabolisms effective at utilizing proteins, carbohydrates and fats have a genetic advantage. When you avoid calorie restriction, you stop encouraging your body to store reserves easily.2

Metabolism isn’t all about burning all of the calories you eat in order to stay thin. It accounts for numerous biochemical reactions that occur in each cell of the body required for basic survival, called basal metabolism. The basal metabolic rate (BMR) accounts for 70% of the calories you need at rest to:

  • circulate blood
  • contract muscles
  • digest food and nutrients
  • maintain body temperature
  • support the functions of the brain and nervous system 3

In addition to BMR, thermogenesis (food processing) and physical activity, determine overall caloric needs. Food processing accounts for 100 calories on average, while physical activity provides the most variability, ranging from 15-35% of your total energy expenditure. BMR slows 3-5% per decade after age 30, which can be attributed to the loss of lean body mass that naturally occurs with age.4

The key to boosting the resting metabolic rate appears linked to the one element we can control: building and maintaining strong skeletal muscles, thus preserving lean body mass.5 In nonobese individuals, skeletal muscle comprises 40% of body weight,6 and can account for 20-30% of the total resting oxygen uptake.7


Researchers found an extra 100 calories per day were burned after 6 months of resistance training.8 Body weight exercises like pushup and pull-ups can be just as effective as lifting weights to stress muscles enough to build strength.9 As a long term strategy, heavy-resistance strength training programs increase resting metabolic rates (RMR) by increasing lean body mass, sympathetic nervous system activity,10 and insulin action.11


Aerobically trained individuals tend to have a higher RMR than those who are untrained.12 An average increase in RMR of 129 calories per day has been shown with cardio exercise 3-5 days per week, for 20-45 minutes, for 16 months.13 Metabolic adaptations associated with traditional aerobic exercise training correlate with improved insulin action14 and glycemic control.15 Insulin resistance is linked to metabolic disorders,16 and performing moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic and resistance exercise for several hours per week can enhance insulin sensitivity.17,18


Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), also called the “after burn effect,” restores the body to its resting state. RMR has been shown to increase for up to 38 hours post-exercise19 contributing to a greater overall calorie expenditure than would be measured without exercise. The EPOC effect is dependent on the intensity and duration of exercise,20 with the greatest effect occurring following high intensity exercise.21 To further boost the overall effect of energy expended post workout, intermittent intervals can be performed throughout the day, as opposed to performing only one continuous period of exercise.22

Physical activity that mimics the movements of hunter-gatherers offers many metabolic advantages, in addition to purely burning calories. Whether your metabolism is fast or slow, you can make vital improvements through a targeted fitness program for optimal performance.



[1] Carey, Andrew L., et al. “Interleukin-6 increases insulin-stimulated glucose disposal in humans and glucose uptake and fatty acid oxidation in vitro via AMP-activated protein kinase.” Diabetes 55.10 (2006): 2688-2697.

[2] Summermatter, Serge, et al. “Thrifty metabolism that favors fat storage after caloric restriction: a role for skeletal muscle phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase activity and AMP-activated protein kinase.” The FASEB Journal 22.3 (2008): 774-785.

[3] Tortora, Gerard J., and Bryan H. Derrickson. Principles of anatomy and physiology. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

[4] Hunter, Gary R., John P. McCarthy, and Marcas M. Bamman. “Effects of resistance training on older adults.” Sports medicine 34.5 (2004): 329-348.

[5] Wade, 0. L., and J. M. Bishop. 1962. Cardiac Output and Regional Blood Flow. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, UK.

[6] Owen, 0. E., G. A. Reichard, Jr., G. Boden, M. S. Patel, and V. E. Trapp. 1978. Interrelationships among key tissues in the utilization of metabolic substrate. Adv. Mod. Nutr. 2:517-550.

[7] Wade, 0. L., and J. M. Bishop. 1962. Cardiac Output and Regional Blood Flow. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, UK.

[8] resistance training. After 6 months, subjects had increased their RMR and were burning an extra 100 calories per day.

[9] Kraemer, William J., et al. “American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 34.2 (2002): 364-380.

[10] Pratley, R., et al. “Strength training increases resting metabolic rate and norepinephrine levels in healthy 50-to 65-yr-old men.” Journal of Applied Physiology 76.1 (1994): 133-137.

[11] Miller, John P., et al. “Strength training increases insulin action in healthy 50-to 65-yr-old men.” Journal of Applied Physiology 77.3 (1994): 1122-1127.

[12] Poehlman, Eric T., et al. “Resting energy metabolism and cardiovascular disease risk in resistance-trained and aerobically trained males.” Metabolism41.12 (1992): 1351-1360.

[13] Potteiger, Jeffrey A., et al. “Changes in resting metabolic rate and substrate oxidation after 16 months of exercise training in overweight adults.”International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism 18.1 (2008): 79.

[14] Hickey MS, Weidner MD, Gavigan KE, Zheng D, Tyndall GL, Houmard JA: The insulin action-fiber type relationship in humans is muscle group specific.Am J Physiol 1995, 269(1 Pt 1):E150-154

[15] Houmard JA, Egan PC, Neufer PD, Friedman JE, Wheeler WS, Israel RG, Dohm GL: Elevated skeletal muscle glucose transporter levels in exercise-trained middle-aged men.

Am J Physiol 1991, 261(4 Pt 1):E437-443.

[16] Bonora, Enzo, et al. “Prevalence of insulin resistance in metabolic disorders: the Bruneck Study.” Diabetes 47.10 (1998): 1643-1649.

[17] Stiegler, Petra, and Adam Cunliffe. “The role of diet and exercise for the maintenance of fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate during weight loss.”Sports Medicine 36.3 (2006): 239-262.

[18] Babraj, John A., et al. “Extremely short duration high intensity interval training substantially improves insulin action in young healthy males.” BMC Endocrine Disorders 9.1 (2009): 3.

[19] Schuenke, Mark D., Richard P. Mikat, and Jeffrey M. McBride. “Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management.” European Journal of Applied Physiology 86.5 (2002): 411-417.

[20] Schuenke, Mark D., Richard P. Mikat, and Jeffrey M. McBride. “Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management.” European Journal of Applied Physiology 86.5 (2002): 411-417.

[21] Bahr, Roald, and Ole M. Sejersted. “Effect of intensity of exercise on excess postexercise O 2 consumption.” Metabolism 40.8 (1991): 836-841.

[22] Laforgia, Joseph, et al. “Comparison of energy expenditure elevations after submaximal and supramaximal running.” Journal of Applied Physiology 82.2 (1997): 661-666.

Keep Your Weekend Warrior in Check | The Paleo Diet

Does your life get in the way of your Paleo diet and how often you exercise? Our hunter-gather ancestors didn’t have near the demanding schedules we do today. Their lives revolved around sourcing food and attending to basic survival needs. They engaged in strenuous physical activity but recovered with ample rest on a daily basis. The activity pattern of modern hunter-gather populations demonstrates the intensity and duration capabilities of our body, as well the necessity of adequate recuperation time from these pursuits.1

Unlike our Paleolithic ancestors, we have the flexibility to select when and how to exercise, as well as what we choose as nutritional fuel. Great fluctuations can occur in these patterns due to the structure of our weekly schedules. Work and family commitments impact the lifestyle choices we make; is it time to get to the gym or should we eat cupcakes and pizza at a party. These obstacles may conflict with the intentions we strive to follow for overall, lifelong wellness.

Weekday Warriors workout and strictly follow the Paleo diet during the work week. The appeal? It syncs up with job commitments and school schedules to provide structure to stay on target. It’s the opposite of the Weekend Warrior who can exercise without limit during those fleeting two days off and becomes so sore he can’t move for another 5 days. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of both approaches as they relate to the success of your Paleo diet and exercise plan.

Physical Activity

At a minimum the CDC recommends either 75 – 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity combined with two or more days of total body strength exercise per week.2 Moving for at least this amount of time per week is a goal that can assist you in maintaining your fitness. To mimic hunter-gathers physical movement, do something active for any length of time on a daily basis, rather than solely on the weekends. Weekend Warriors may choose to stick with their current program, and add light walking or stretching during their recovery days.

After four days of consecutive exercise a Weekday Warrior’s muscle function becomes less effective and requires reducing intensity.3 The muscle damage leads to an immediate and prolonged reduction in muscle function. Specifically, a reduction in the force-generating capacity has been quantified in human studies through isometric and dynamic isokinetic testing modalities.4 These warriors can program workouts to balance the intensity and strength demands accordingly to preserve maximum function throughout the week.5


The Paleo Diet 85:15 Rule, permits for individuals to consume three non-Paleo meals per week. This doesn’t allow either warrior the luxury of falling too far off course, as the more closely the principles are followed, the greater the results yielded. The Paleo Diet for Athletes discusses in detail the role of adequate nutrition and its importance in aiding recovery from training.

You may find it is easier to stick with your diet intentions during the workweek, as there are less social obligations and a consistent routine, such as time for stocking up at the grocery store. However, sticky buns show up at coffee breaks, happy hour leads to non-Paleo choices, and meetings run late preventing you from getting your planned dinner made—all challenge your intentions for clean eating. Structure your meals on the weekends to match your workdays, including leeway for special occasions or dinner at your favorite restaurant.

The nuances of exercise programming and nutrition can impact your overall performance and goal attainment. Although discretionary, the success of how often you choose to exercise and what to eat should be measured on how you feel. Whatever options you choose, strive to feel energized, strong, and vital.



[1] O’Keefe, James H., and Loren Cordain. “Cardiovascular disease resulting from a diet and lifestyle at odds with our Paleolithic genome: how to become a 21st-century hunter-gatherer.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Vol. 79. No. 1. Elsevier, 2004.

[2] Available at://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html. Accessed on February 10, 2015.

[3] Edwards, R. H., et al. “Fatigue of long duration in human skeletal muscle after exercise.” The Journal of physiology 272.3 (1977): 769-778.

[4] Byrne, Christopher, Craig Twist, and Roger Eston. “Neuromuscular function after exercise-induced muscle damage.” Sports medicine 34.1 (2004): 49-69.

[5] Edwards, Richard HT. “Human muscle function and fatigue.” Human muscle fatigue: physiological mechanisms. Vol. 82. Pitman Medical London, 1981. 1-18.

How Obstacle Races and Competitions Tap Into Our Ancestral Past | The Paleo Diet


An evolution in optimal exercise is taking place, inspired by how our primitive ancestors moved. In 2013, nearly 3.4 million people participated in an obstacle race, and in 2014 these races generated close to $362 million in registration revenue.1 Similarly, in 2014 over 209,000 people signed up for the CrossFit Games Open, a 5-week qualifier to find the fittest person on Earth.2 Their appeal can be linked to desire to focus on functional forms of fitness, meaning performing movements that have implications to improve the ability to engage fully in daily activities, especially as we age.3,4

These types of competitions require endurance, speed, strength and agility to swing on ropes, scramble over walls, swim through mud, to lift heavy objects, and navigate other barriers. Physical training with such obstacles has been shown to improve overall fitness levels and body composition.5 Every part of the body is needed to complete the activities, as well as willpower to push through the unexpected and uncomfortable. Think swimming through mud.

If you repeat the same workout routine each time you go to the gym, it may be time to add tasks that test both your mind and your body. Hunter-gathers were constantly challenged with unexpected obstacles, such as crossing water or climbing hills and boulders to procure food and water.6 Their movements were constantly varied, with endurance and peak strength effort activities, which they alternated with adequate rest.7

These conditions cannot be replicated by routine workouts, such as walking on a no-incline treadmill for 45 minutes while watching a television screen and doing the same weight machine circuit three times a week. Modern exercise patterns (or lack thereof) have been linked to most chronic diseases8 and to repetitive injuries to joints and muscles.9

What additional benefits can you experience through obstacle and CrossFit-style competitions?

They offer a motivation to push through the ideas you may have about your body’s limitations, and they can tap into the human drive to move for a reason 10 – in this case to complete the complex tasks offered by the competition. Further, they require your brain to work in order to problem solve and strategize, in a way that can be argued mimics the mental skills of hunter- gatherers. 11,12

These sports also provide a social aspect to movement that is lacking from most traditional gym programs.  Hunter-gathers were required to work together as a social unit in order to thrive.13 This involved collaboration for hunting wild game, butchering the animal, as well as foraging collectively to reap the largest and most varied foods.14  Every person in a mud run participates as a team and collaborates to conquer the barriers presented.15

While competitions offered through CrossFit, Spartan Race, and Tough Mudders offer many benefits to mimic hunter gather challenges, you can still improve your fitness level by mixing up how you exercise on a regular basis. Use activities you already like, such as walking or weight lifting, and make small adjustments in how you perform them. For example, add more hills or speed intervals to your walk or vary the number of sets and repetitions you do when lifting heavy objects. Be open to participate in new activities to challenge yourself outside of both your physical and mental comfort zone, especially those that are outdoors as it has been linked to improved mental wellbeing.16 Any variety you incorporate into how you move your body on a regular basis can have a big, lasting impact on your overall fitness level.

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[1] Available at: //www.pr.com/press-release/567322 . Accessed on January 20, 2015.

[2] Available at: //games.crossfit.com/article/209585-rise-open. Accessed on January 20, 2015.

[3] Thompson, Christian J., Karen Myers Cobb, and John Blackwell. “Functional training improves club head speed and functional fitness in older golfers.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 21.1 (2007): 131-137.

[4] Suomi, Rory, and Douglas Collier. “Effects of arthritis exercise programs on functional fitness and perceived activities of daily living measures in older adults with arthritis.” Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation 84.11 (2003): 1589-1594.

[5] Frykman, P. N., E. A. Harman, and C. E. Pandorf. Correlates of obstacle course performance among female soldiers carrying two different loads. Army research Inst of Environmental Medicine Natick MA, 2001.

[6] Cordain, Loren, R. W. Gotshall, and S. Boyd Eaton. “Physical activity, energy expenditure and fitness: an evolutionary perspective.” International journal of sports medicine 19.05 (1998): 328-335.

[7] Åstrand PO. J. B. Wolffe Memorial Lecture. Why exercise? Med Sci Sports Exerc 24: 153-162, 1992.

[8] Chakravarthy, Manu V., and Frank W. Booth. “Eating, exercise, and “thrifty” genotypes: connecting the dots toward an evolutionary understanding of modern chronic diseases.” Journal of Applied Physiology 96.1 (2004): 3-10.

[9] Carpenter, James E., et al. “The effects of overuse combined with intrinsic or extrinsic alterations in an animal model of rotator cuff tendinosis.” The American journal of sports medicine 26.6 (1998): 801-807.

[10] Roberts, Glyn C., Darren C. Treasure, and David E. Conroy. “Understanding the dynamics of motivation in sport and physical activity: An achievement goal interpretation.” Handbook of Sport Psychology, Third Edition (2007): 1-30.

[11] Binford, Lewis R. “Willow smoke and dogs’ tails: hunter-gatherer settlement systems and archaeological site formation.” American antiquity (1980): 4-20.

[12] Price, T. Douglas, and James A. Brown. “Aspects of hunter-gatherer complexity.” Prehistoric hunter-gatherers: The emergence of cultural complexity(1985): 3-20.

[13] Apicella, Coren L., et al. “Social networks and cooperation in hunter-gatherers.”Nature 481.7382 (2012): 497-501.

[14] Gurven M. “To give and give not: the behavioral ecology of human food transfers.” Behav. Brain Sci. 27, (2004 ): 543–559.

[15] Wing, Rena R., and Robert W. Jeffery. “Benefits of recruiting participants with friends and increasing social support for weight loss and maintenance.” Journal of consulting and clinical psychology 67.1 (1999): 132.

[16] Thompson Coon, J., et al. “Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review.” Environmental science & technology 45.5 (2011): 1761-1772.


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