Why “Diets” Fail: Part IV

The Science Corner

Part 4 – Calorie Deficit Doesn’t Mean Fat Loss

So far we have explored all of the factors that go in to the way your body changes and adapts to different relative energy intakes.

We found that – in an attempt to lose weight – it isn’t a simple matter of just dropping your calories and enjoying easy long term fat loss, as Adaptive Thermogenesis will always work to adjust your metabolism to meet your new intake. Dropping your calories by too much and / or for too long can cause these changes to work against you.

But, let’s just say you’ve done all the right things now, you are creating a sustainable calorie deficit and are working to offset the negative aspects of Adaptive Thermogenesis. This still doesn’t answer the last – and perhaps most critical question…Will you actually lose fat?


And here we come to the whole bitter irony. After navigating your way through ALLLL of the previous articles and finally finding yourself in a state where you have created a successful and sustainable negative energy balance, this doesn’t completely solve the last and most important part of the riddle.

Are you going to lose fat? Or are you going to lose muscle?

Just because you finally created a deficit, it doesn’t tell your body what to actually do with it.

  • Being in an energy deficit doesn’t automatically mean you will lose fat.
  • Being in an energy surplus doesn’t automatically mean you will gain fat.

Welcome to the world of Energy Partitioning

Creating an energy deficit is only part of the equation. You still have to give your body a reason to tap in to your fat stores.

All you’ve actually done is create an energy imbalance, a debt that needs to be repaid. It doesn’t actually tell your body WHERE you need to make up that deficit from.

(I have written an article previously in a bit more detail regarding energy partitioning here if you want to check it out later) Why “Energy In Energy Out” Doesn’t Tell You If You Will Get Fat

So…even though body fat might be YOUR first obvious choice, there are also other options your body can look at, one of which being your hard earned lean muscle tissue. And if your best interests are in maintaining your metabolism and your shape – or “tone” as often people refer to it – you definitely don’t want this to happen.

Losing weight and losing fat are two very different things. I don’t care how much weight you lose, but I do care what the composition of that loss is.

Has your PT ever told you to not focus on the scale weight, but rather the composition of your weight?

  • If you lose 1kg on the scales and it’s mostly body fat, you are winning.
  • If you lose 1kg and it’s 50:50 fat and muscle, hmmm we need to change something here, it’s not great.
  • If you lose 1kg of muscle and little to no fat, we are definitely doing something drastically wrong and need to change it.

As mentioned, as far as your body is concerned, it’s just an energy deficit, it will make up for this deficit the best way it sees fit. And, given the right (or wrong) circumstances this can work for you or against you.

As mentioned, as far as your body is concerned, it’s just an energy deficit, it will make up for this deficit the best way it sees fit. And, given the right (or wrong) circumstances this can work for you or against you.

To guarantee you are optimising the environment to strip body fat and maximise lean mass, you have to take a number of factors into consideration with regards to the type of exercise program you are on and how you construct your diet in the calorie deficit. Unfortunately both of these areas are too large to go in to detail in here, but if you want to read more about the different factors that go in to how your body controls energy partitioning, check out my fat loss series

But for now, let’s focus on a couple of the biggest key factors…

KEY IMPORTANT SCIENCY THING NUMBER 2 – Macro’s Matter More Than Calories

“Macronutrient composition may add to metabolic changes in response to overfeeding. While there were no differences in increases in EE after either carbohydrate or fat overfeeding [19], a high protein intake may have a greater effect. Hypercaloric protein-rich diets (with a protein content at 25 % of energy intake) increased FFM, TEE and REE [20•]. However, AT was not different between diets differing in protein content.” (Muller, et al, 2016)

Let’s say it one more time with feeling

There are no differences in Energy Expenditure with carbohydrate and fat overfeeding, a high protein diet may have a greater effect.

Hypercaloric protein rich diets increased fat free mass, and also increased energy expenditure.

What have I been saying repeatedly for over 15-20 years now? Not all calories are created equal. The way your body processes protein is not the same as carbohydrate which is not the same as fat.

First step when you are in an energy deficit or surplus though is…Get your protein intake right!

I won’t go in to the details of the different roles of your proteins, carbs and fats, I have covered these in detail in the past. All you need to remember, when it comes to constructing your diet, these levels are set for a reason!!

It’s not good enough for you to just count your calories each day, that tells you NOTHING!

Take home message: Count your macro’s not your calories.


“Weight loss results from a negative energy balance and changes in body composition; it is not continuous but curve-linear ending when a new steady state and, thus, a new equilibrium between energy intake and energy expenditure are reached” (Muller, et al, 2016)

We have obviously already talked about this in the previous articles, but let’s also look at it from a slightly different angle.

No diet works forever. It doesn’t matter what calorie intake you choose, your body will lose weight ONLY until a new steady state is reached. If you went too hard too quickly, inevitably your results will stall. If you’re already eating next to nothing, then there is nothing more left to lose.

Your diet needs to be a shifting, changing and fluid process that is based on how your body is changing and adapting. Again, this is the reason why consistent assessment is key as it tells you what is going on and how your body is adapting.

Refeeds and Diet Breaks

“When recovering from starvation, people spontaneously overeat; body weight and fat mass increase. Weight regain may be forced by persistence of the starvation-induced suppression of thermogenesis. However, during a controlled caloric restriction-refeeding cycle in healthy lean men, mass-independent decreases in REE reversed within 2 weeks of refeeding” (Muller et al, 2016)

Yes, I’ve said this about 7 times in previous articles already, but it again highlights why these factors are so important.

The reason your diet fails is because you are focusing on the wrong things

You cut back on calories as the only means to try and lose weight

You essentially starve yourself for a period doing something that isn’t sustainable and when you come off it, you WILL spontaneously overeat to compensate for it.

This can be offset if you did it correctly from the beginning with a controlled restriction – refeeding cycle, reversing these even within just 2 weeks!

Want again to know why we run repeated 6 week challenges throughout the year with timed planned breaks in between them? To offset any negative effects from AT to ensure your success is sustainable and long term.


For years I have told my clients it’s easy to lose weight. All you have to do is create an energy deficit. It’s not so easy to just lose body fat.

And it’s not so easy to KEEP just losing the body fat over the long term.

As you can see, you have numerous hurdles to overcome. You have to create an energy deficit, but, due to AT you can see this isn’t as simple as just eating less.

Not only that, you have to create an environment that is conducive for this to come from fat loss.

Creating the optimal fat loss environment in a deficit is more about manipulating your hormonal environment which is completed through careful planning of both your exercise routine and your macronutrient intake.

  • Diet isn’t just about creating an energy deficit. Even though you still have to create some sort of negative energy balance, you must do this while also creating a state that is conducive for this to come from fat loss.
  • It requires carefully calculated ways to reaching this energy deficit. But also the right blend and balance of your Protein, Carbs and Fats to optimise the fat loss environment and encourage lean mass accretion.
  • It requires you to create this negative energy deficit in the right balance where it is enough for your body to care, but not too much that your body overcompensates with a suboptimal Adaptative Thermogenesis response.
  • It also requires planned refeeds and diet breaks to offset the long term effects of dropping calories and ensure long term success

Sad to say, again, after all of that, it really does just come back to Diet and Exercise. It’s as simple as that and yet so much more complicated than that.


Müller MJ, Enderle J, Bosy-Westphal A. Changes in Energy Expenditure with Weight Gain and Weight Loss in Humans. Curr Obes Rep. 2016;5(4):413-423. doi:10.1007/s13679-016-0237-4

Why “Diets” Fail: Part III

The Science Corner

Part 3: Low Metabolism vs High Metabolism, How to Cheat The System

The last couple of instalments have focused on the outcome of Adaptive Thermogenesis. The end result of what happens when you eat too little vs what happens when you overconsume.

We have looked at the different parts that make up our “energy out” side of the equation and we have also looked at how Adaptive Thermogenesis can influence different aspects of these separately.

Each instalment we have been peeling off the layers gradually, slowly uncovering the details that make up your metabolism. This next part will dig even deeper still. Deep inside your body to understand exactly what is happening to cause this change.

Once you have an understanding of the different factors inside your body that influence this Adaptive Thermogenesis, you can then use them to help “cheat” the system. You too can also learn to maximise the good and offset the bad.

In other words, you can learn to get lean, stay lean, and eat big doing it.

In this instalment:

  • You will learn exactly what it means when someone says they have a high metabolism.
  • You will understand that people who seemingly eat the house down and stay lean don’t defy the laws of thermodynamics.
  • And you will understand why what’s happening inside your body when you somehow lick a cookie and get fat while your PT eats a stack of pancakes and still retains a six pack.

Most importantly, you will learn the details on how you can start training your metabolism to do the same.

KEY IMPORTANT SCIENCY THING NUMBER 1: Adaptive Thermogenesis is Fluid And Shifting

The good news (and bad), is that adaptive thermogenesis is always changing. It’s ALWAYS searching, trying to reach a new “balance point”.

Even though your metabolism is governed partly by your genetics, you are not a slave to it. There is a large component of it that you CAN influence. For better or worse. Most people do it for worse…

It might take some people a bit longer to recover from a “poor metabolism”, but EVERYONE can change it for the better.

What is also means is this…

Your so-called “ageing metabolism”, has in fact got nothing to do with age, but the many years you’ve spent with bad eating and exercise habits.

So, what determines this metabolic balance point? And what exactly is your body adapting or responding to?

What Happens When You Lose Weight?

“Adaptive Thermogenesis relates to two different set points with a settling between them.

  1. During early weight loss, the first set is related to depleted glycogen stores associated with the fall in insulin secretion where AT adds to meet brain’s energy needs.
  2. During maintenance of reduced weight, the second set is related to low leptin levels keeping energy expenditure low to prevent triglyceride stores getting too low which is a risk for some basic biological functions (e.g., reproduction).” (Muller, et al, 2016)

In the early days of losing weight, the adaptive thermogenesis response is all to do with blood glucose levels, the glucose levels stored inside your muscles and insulin levels. It’s all about preserving energy for the brain. If the brains needs are met, metabolism is sweet. If these start getting a bit low, your body will start making some changes.

We discuss controlling the outcome of the first “set” i.e. response to glucose and insulin a section a bit further below.

Later on though, it’s all about trying to preserve some fat stores.

As time goes on and you lose some body fat, your body starts pushing back against you. As far as your body is concerned, it doesn’t know you are trying to get a sick striated ab line for the beach this summer, it just thinks you are slowly starving yourself to death. So, in response to this, it slows your metabolism down to conserve energy.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is thinking you can have a 6 pack all year round!!

Everyone thinks that bodybuilders and fitness models are in competition shape all year round, and this simply isn’t the case!! In fact, your fitspo’s feed is taken up of 1000 pics they took 2 weeks out from their comp, they’ve just been milking the same photo shoot for the past 10 months!!


This is why people who have competed in bodybuilding wreck themselves metabolically during the process. Guys end up with the testosterone levels of a nat. And women tend to disrupt their cycles and rebound with their weight…hard. This brought about the buzz term “metabolic damage” that was all the rage in the industry a few years back.

Everybody blamed their prep coach, when really it was just a consequence of competing in a sport demands super low levels of body fat.

But, through all of that? ALL of them can make a recovery.

Same goes the other way when you carry a bit too much body fat for too long. The body’s response and response time is a bit off, and it might take some finessing to get there. But it DOES get there.

Easy come easy go. Don’t diet too hard. Don’t diet too long. Any extreme one way or the other is bad.

You can push it too far sometimes and it might seem a bit broken. But it ALWAYS CAN RECOVER.

Take home message:

  1. Your goal shouldn’t be to get too lean and stay there.
  2. Be patient at the start if you have been overweight for a period

It is always a shifting and changing process and your metabolism will always adapt. You are never a slave to it. Use that to your advantage.

What Happens When You Have a High Metabolism?

What’s the deal with your PT or insta hero that can seemingly eat pancakes and burgers every week and NOT GET FAT?

We all knew that one person growing up that seemingly ate their household out of food and gained ZERO weight. What is really going on with someone who has a “high metabolism” where they create this metabolic trickery where the laws of energy in energy out don’t seem to apply.

“Metabolically, AT has been explained by the ratio of glycolytic to oxidative enzymes together with an altered efficiency of free fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle, “futile” cycles consuming ATP without a net change in products (e.g. hydrolysis of triglycerides and subsequent re-esterification in adipocytes), changes in the ATP-costs per muscle contraction, mitochondrial uncoupling in brown adipose tissue, energy-consuming pathways like lipogenesis, NEAT and/or partitioning of energy to fat mass or FFM [3]. These mechanisms are considered to be under genetic and hormonal control, i.e. by insulin, leptin, thyroid hormones and sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity.”(Muller, et al, 2016)

English Translation:

In people with a high metabolism, their bodies respond differently to an increase in calorie intake. Their body will essentially burn through energy with “futile” energy consuming reactions.

This is the metabolic version of spinning its wheels.

Or digging a hole then filling it back up again, then digging a hole then filling it back up. It wastes energy, and doesn’t change anything.

Just like the above though, don’t think for a second that those with a high metabolism get away with this forever. It does catch up with them if they do it for too long.

This is why you’ll find those that are lean and post a lot of pics about the “crap” they eat, actually eat pretty controlled the rest of the time.

It’s all about finding a sweet spot. Getting lean enough without getting too lean. Being able to plan and overconsume without “over” consuming.


Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for, what is it that regulates this mystical Adaptive Thermogenesis?

How do you turn YOUR metabolism from a Datsun 1200y (if you get that reference, you are too old, welcome to the club) in to a high performance sports car?

“Regulation of AT has been related to changes in the composition of FFM (i.e. a change in the proportion of high metabolic rate organs to muscle mass as well as tissue hydration), reduced endocrine signals from triiodothyronine (T3), insulin and SNS activity and/or a reduced feedback from adipocytes brought about by a fall in leptin secretion.”(Muller, et al, 2016)

What this again means in English…Your AT is regulated mainly by

  • Fat Free Mass – muscle and high metabolic rate organs as well as tissue hydration
  • Thyroid
  • Insulin
  • Sympathetic Nervous System (i.e. adrenalin, cortisol)
  • Fat Hormones i.e. Leptin is a fat released hormone that tells the brain if you are “full” or “hungry” and also controls metabolism

In other words, you need more muscle. AND you need optimisation of your body’s hormone system.

The most important point here:

ALL of these processes are controlled by more than just your “energy” intake. Yes, genetics has a lot to do with it, but hormones make up an intricate part of a huge overall network woven together and dependant upon one another in complex networks and feedback loops.

In other words, these hormones are governed by more than just your calories, so there’s more to the picture of your overall metabolism than just your calorie intake.

For you though. What you need to know right now:

  • You need to lift weights
  • You need to carefully construct your diet to not only create an effective negative energy balance
  • You need to do so while optimising the right hormonal balance.

On top of the relative factors we have discussed so far on energy intake, you now need to add in carefully constructing your macronutrient intake.

KEY IMPORTANT SCIENCY THING NUMBER 3: There’s More To It Than Just The Calories

“We assume that in early starvation, lower thresholds of (i) liver glycogen or (ii) negative fluid balance associated with glycogen depletion trigger AT. It is tempting to speculate that this early response is related to energy needs of the brain (i.e. brains metabolism requires 80 to 100 g glucose per day). By contrast, AT does not occur after glycogen depletion in response to an isocaloric ketogenic diet and moderate weight loss” (Muller, et al, 2016)

As hinted at previously, this is a crucial element, as it raises the point that creating this optimal environment and negative energy balance is more than just “calories”.

What this is saying is that you can actually offset some of the negative aspects of AT when you keep the calories the same on a lower carb diet

This might also contribute to partially explain why lower carb diets work better in the short term compared with higher carb diets when calories and fluid changes are equated for.

Basically, Macro’s Matter. Not just the “calories”.

In fact, when reviewing these and other aspects of true energy intake, Macro’s matter MORE than calories. Focus on hitting your macro targets as a priority and place this in the context of your overall calorie intake.

When it comes to maximising your metabolism:

  • You want a diet that maximises food intake while creating an optimal energy deficit (i.e. optimising Thermic Effect of Feeding, etc)
  • You want a diet that controls blood sugar and glycogen levels without adversely affecting Adaptive Thermogenesis
  • You want a diet that promotes lean mass and optimisation of fat loss hormones without disrupting your hormonal balance
  • You can do all of this by correctly calculating out your macronutrient values for your given calorie intake.


Adaptive Thermogenesis is not a life sentence, it’s a constant fluid and shifting progress. This is one of the reasons why no diet works forever and constantly needs to be changed depending on how your body is adapting.

It is under the influence of muscle, food intake and hormones. It’s about energy balance, but this energy balance is more than just calories, as the things that influence AT are also the composition of those calories and the effect these also have on muscle, hormones, etc.

Let’s Bring it Back Real Simple, The Take home messages so far on AT

  1. Don’t Starve Yourself to weight loss, mild calorie restrictions
  2. Planned Diet Breaks and refeeds can help to normalise your AT response and increase the energy you burn during exercise
  3. Optimise Your Hormones
  4. Your Macronutrient Amounts / Ratio’s Matter – There are more ways to create a deficit than just eating less as the “energy out” part of the equation is a lot more complex than people originally think.

You can cheat the system, or you can break the system. A broken system means you have slowed everything down or metabolically changed how your body responds to different stimulus i.e. type II diabetes or insulin resistance, you don’t get the same responses as someone with a higher tolerance to higher calorie intake and insulin sensitivity for example.


You’ve now finally created yourself a successful energy deficit!!

Only one little problem remains…


Final part of the series we discover Energy Partitioning and how you can wire your metabolism to tap in to body fat and preserve your hard earned lean mass.


Müller MJ, Enderle J, Bosy-Westphal A. Changes in Energy Expenditure with Weight Gain and Weight Loss in Humans. Curr Obes Rep. 2016;5(4):413-423. doi:10.1007/s13679-016-0237-4

Why “Diets” Fail: Part II

The Science Corner

Part II – Dieting Paradox: Eat Less Burn Less, Eat More Burn More

Last instalment we introduced you to the concept of Adaptive Thermogenesis or how your body responds to different energy intakes.

The take home messages of Adaptive Thermogenesis were:

In a Negative Energy Balance – your body will adapt to burn LESS energy

In a Positive Energy Balance – your body will adapt to burn MORE energy

This instalment we peel another layer off and see what exactly is being affected, which aspects of your energy out are getting influenced the most, and how you can use this to your advantage to EAT MORE and BURN MORE.

We’ll also learn how these adaptations can work AGAINST YOU and prevent you from achieving your fat loss goals.

So, if you’ve ever gone on a diet and been disheartened by the amount – or lack thereof – of fat loss, this is super important for you to get to know.

To understand what is happening and what is the best way to combat it, we need to expand a little bit on what we have learned so far. The reason we need to go this step further is because Adaptive Thermogenesis affects some of these in different ways.

Key Important Sciency Thing Number 1

As we learned last week, Adaptive Thermogenesis refers to changes in how much energy you burn each day, namely:

  • The Resting Component of your energy expenditure
  • The Non Resting Component of your energy expenditure

The Resting component, REE, of your energy expenditure can actually be further broken down in to two parts

  1. Resting Energy Expenditure (REE we talked about last week)
  2. Diet Induced Thermogenesis (DIT)

Again, don’t be confused by the heavy science terms and acronyms!! All this means is simply the following:

  • Your body burns energy while at rest.
  • And it burns energy when you eat.

These are the only two ways your body can burn energy when you aren’t doing activity.

You’ve probably heard me talk about diet induced thermogenesis in the past in another way, Thermic Effect of Feeding. Or, another way to say it, It Takes Energy to Make Energy. This is basically the energy cost that goes in to digesting, extracting, etc energy out of the foods you eat.

The Non Resting component, nREE, can be broken down in to:

  1. Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT)
  2. Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is pretty straight forward, it’s just the energy burned during exercise. NEAT is pretty much any and all of the rest of the activity you do each day that isn’t classified as “exercise”.

Realistically your body doesn’t distinguish between what you would call “Excercise” and any other activity. Do you really think your body is thinking that walk you took along the river is exercise, compared to you walking around the shops and saying, no, no, no that one was EAT, this one is NEAT?…No! For all intents and purposes for these definitions, think of any activity that is of a higher level of movement and intensity as Exercise and anything that is lower intensity as incidental day to day activity as NEAT. As rubbish as I think these definitions are, they’re important to the story later.

So, if it’s all starting to get a little confusing, let me bring it back to basics real quick.

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It’s actually pretty simple and straightforward. Just kind of gets made to sound complicated.

Why do you need to know this? Well, you don’t really…But, it is important to understand because how each of these respond to a negative and positive energy balance is slightly different. So it’s important to make the distinction now instead of later.

See! Now you have a full understanding of everything that makes up your “energy out’ part of the equation when you look at “energy in / energy out”

But again, if you think fat loss is simply a matter of “energy in / energy out” we still haven’t finished our discussion yet, so read on.

Now let’s look more closely at exactly how Adaptive Thermogenesis affects your weight loss efforts by affecting these factors. As you are going to find out, calculating your “calorie deficit” starts to become a little more complicated…

Key Important Sciency Thing Number 2

What Happens In Calorie Restriction

When you cut down your calories and create a Negative Energy Balance, this affects ALL of the energy out side of the equation, but mainly has an affect on your Resting Energy Expenditure.

That means your Resting Energy Expenditure (REE), your Diet Induced Thermogenesis (DIT) AND your Activity Energy Expenditure (AEE) are ALL influenced by this process.

You are essentially burning LESS energy for doing the SAME things!! And you burn less when you are doing nothing!

This has been reproduced again and again in numerous studies over the years – decades even…

“Sixty-five years ago, the Minnesota Starvation Experiment was the first quantitative description of AT in humans [5••]. Since then, AT has been reproduced in experimental and clinical studies on weight loss. AT varied between 100 and 500 kcal/day, it is observed in lean as well as overweight subjects. AT is independent of the weight loss strategy.” (Muller, et al, 2016)

100-500 calories a day!! That’s huge!! That’s how much a difference in your energy deficit this can make, even for just doing the same things! Have you ever tried cutting 500 calories from your diet before? That’s 1/3 of some peoples current calorie intake, even more for others already on a Jenny Craig 1200 calorie weight loss plan.

Also, this was independent of weight loss strategy! INDEPENDENT of weight loss strategy. Meaning you can’t escape this. It doesn’t matter what diet cult you subscribe to, if you are cutting down the overall calories, this WILL AFFECT YOU TOO.

There are some methods which circumvent this a little more than others, but we will discuss these in the future instalments.

So, pretty much it doesn’t matter who you are, if you cut your calories too much, or for too long, your body will actually slow down how much energy it burns. This could even cost you hundreds of calories worth of energy each day!!!

What Happens In Overfeeding

In the converse of this, the stupid thing is, when you overeat, your weight gain is often LESS than what is really expected from the amount of “calories” you have overconsumed.

Here’s where the effects of Adaptive Thermogenesis behave a little differently by influencing only specific factors. When you over consume your energy, this mainly affects the Non Resting Energy Expenditure.

“With continuous overfeeding, body energy stored was 60–75 % of excess energy leaving the rest for an increase in EE which was explained by obligatory costs (e.g. for gaining body protein, increased cost of walking, etc.” (Muller, et al, 2016)

Again, this is HUGE!!!! 25-40% of the excess energy consumed…pfffff…gone. NOT stored as fat. It was put as an increased cost of exercise. They burned MORE energy during activity.

If you’ve ever seen your PT or insta hero post pictures of their Nutella pancakes, and you think “how can they get away with it” it’s because their metabolism really does kick up a gear and their body will actually BURN MORE energy during their next workout to compensate for it.

I’ll say it again. Their bodies BURN MORE ENERGY than usual during their next workouts

Key part here though, there is different with a short term over feed as opposed to long term, or continuous overfeeding.

What Happens When Your Metabolism is Broken?

Why is it sometimes then some people just sniff a piece of chocolate and they gain 5kg of fat? Or why is it that people that are carrying a little more weight are dieting so hard and so strict but they don’t seem to lose any?

If you want to know how powerful Adaptive Thermogenesis can be, it can “explain about 50% of the less than expected weight loss in obese people that go on a diet” (Muller, et al, 2016).

Read that last sentence again, and then think of all the times you have tried to go on any sort of diet you thought was a failure, or didn’t get the results you were expecting.

It again, all comes back to what we are talking about above, but the body has lost it’s ability to adjust correctly to the same stimuli.

If you have overfed yourself for too long, been dieting for too long, or too hard by dropping calories too much, you will find that some of these processes have become a little…messed up…They don’t respond the way you want them too. It’s not like they’re broken beyond repair (remember it always adapts and finds a balance point) it just might take a little extra time and careful planning to get there.

What Happens When It Is Controlled?

“During controlled overfeeding, the non-resting component of EE, i.e. EAT increases at unchanged NEAT” (Muller, et al, 2016)

And this is a really important point. This means the energy you burn during exercise actually increases when you do controlled overfeeding. But the controlled overfeeding won’t change your NEAT.

You will burn MORE energy than usual when you exercise. But the energy you burn during your other normal daily activities still stays the same. So, by definition, exercise is not classified as just a regular walk. But something a bit more strenuous.

You picking up what I’m putting down here?? For the slower ones who haven’t figured it out yet…There should be periods of controlled overfeeding, AND…YOU HAVE TO FREAKING EXERCISE when you do it.

You will actually burn MORE calories if you do this. You can’t just keep trying to cut your calories more and more and more to lose weight!!!!

When you eat more, you will burn more during exercise. If you want to see this in action, give a child some lollies and see what happens…You eat more, your body will have energy to do more. And it will burn more while doing this activity. Don’t starve yourself and try to train hard. Again, think of your PT and his stupid visits to Cowch almost weekly for dessert…

All of this sounds dumb so far though right?

If you want to lose weight, you have to go in to a calorie restriction. But if you go in to a calorie restriction you won’t burn as much energy, and you want to burn MORE energy in order to create this deficit. But you burn more when you eat more, but you can’t eat more because you are trying to create this deficit…so, what the heck do you do?

This is the cycle so many people find themselves in…They want to lose weight, so they restrict calories. But then this weight loss stalls. So then they restrict calories. But the weight loss stalls. Soon they’re at the point where they’re eating next to nothing, but the scales aren’t moving and they’re still a loooong way off of their dream figure.

So What GIVES???!!!

The picture is slowly starting to form though.

  • You need periods of controlled calorie restriction (no drastic calorie drops or detox)
  • Controlled and planned segments of refeeding or “diet breaks”.
  • You need to make sure you are doing this in conjunction with a well planned exercise program.

See. Simple. Easy. But there’s a bit more to this picture still…

Next instalment you will go even deeper and understand what’s really happening inside your body to control this Adaptive Thermogenesis and how you can further manipulate it to make it work FOR you NOT AGAINST you.


The energy you burn at rest is divided up in to your resting metabolism and also the energy you burn from eating food.

The energy you burn through activity is divided up in to the energy cost of exercise and the energy from any other activity.

When you under consume your calories, your body will BURN LESS energy for doing the same things. This affects ALL of the energy out side of the equation.

When you over consume your calories, your body will BURN MORE energy when you exercise.

Controlled periods of overfeeding will actually INCREASE the amount of energy your burn during exercise and less of this excess will be stored.

But you must do this in conjunction with exercise.

Müller MJ, Enderle J, Bosy-Westphal A. Changes in Energy Expenditure with Weight Gain and Weight Loss in Humans. Curr Obes Rep. 2016;5(4):413-423. doi:10.1007/s13679-016-0237-4

Why “Diets” Fail: Part I

The Science Corner

Part 1 – “The Diet Catch 22”

Trying to lose fat? You’re most likely doing it wrong…

In this series, we are going to dive a bit deeper in to the actual science behind some of the changes that take place in your body when dieting and answer some of the most important fat loss questions.

Why calorie restriction isn’t the answer to long term fat loss

Why you are eating too little to lose fat

How you are setting yourself up to fail in the long term

If you’ve ever heard the term Yo Yo Dieting, Slowed Metabolism, Metabolic Damage, Rebound Dieting…basically these are all referring to the same thing. If you diet too hard, or for too long, you 1) either find it harder to lose fat and / or 2) you get even fatter when you go off your “diet”.

This is the main reason why health professionals don’t recommend you go on any “fad” diets. Or any sort of eating plan with only a short term dramatic outlook (*cough* detox *cough*…)

Bottom line is this, if you want long term success in fat loss. You can’t just focus on restricting calories over the long term.

You can’t restrict calories too much.

And you can’t restrict calories for too long.

Which brings us to the Catch 22…

The Catch 22 lies in the fact that – if you want to lose weight – you are going to have to create some kind of deficit. But in order to create this deficit, most people will restrict how much they are eating in an effort to “cut calories”. Which is what most people would call a diet.

But if you restrict calories, you slow your metabolism down and end up burning less energy than you were before. So, after a period of time, you’re now no longer in a deficit.

So you have to restrict calories even more now to create a new deficit. But if you do, then your metabolism slows down, so you restrict more which you can’t do now, because there’s nothing left to give…aaaaand now you’re screwed…

Not only that, if you do go back to what you were eating before, you will also end up fatter than where you started, because the baseline amount of energy you are burning now is less than before.

BUT in order to lose weight you needed to create some kind of deficit…See how it gets confusing?

So what the heck is actually going on here? How do you really go about creating an environment that helps you lose fat AND not wreck your metabolism in the process?

Don’t worry. Of course I hold the answers, and we’ll eventually get there on how you can also make this work to your advantage.

But first, the boring bits you unfortunately need to understand, otherwise everything else later on won’t make sense.


To understand how your body changes and adapts to your food intake, we need to start from the beginning.

The amount of energy your body burns through each day can be simply divided up in to 2 main categories

1) Resting Energy Expenditure (REE)
2) Non Resting Energy Expenditure (nREE)

This is the fancy way of saying that your lazy lump of a body still uses energy, even when you’re not doing anything. They just decided to call it REE. The energy you burn while at rest. As you can imagine, this isn’t as much energy as when you are actually moving…which is called Non Resting Energy Expenditure or nREE. Genius right?!!

These things aren’t as basic as they appear on the surface, and I will be exploring these in more details in the future, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This is all you need to know for now. REE and nREE. Just nerd words for simple concepts.


Your body will change the amount of energy it burns at rest and during exercise through something known as ADAPTIVE THERMOGENESIS

“Adaptive Thermogenesis limits changes in energy stores in response to varying energy intake and / or Energy Expenditure.” (Muller et al, 2016)

Which again – freaking scientists, am I right? – is an unnecessarily complicated way of saying your body will resist what you try and do to it. Your body doesn’t like change. It’s like me as I get older. It resists any change and it is always right.

So, if you diet too hard, or for too long it will try and preserve itself. I know, I know, this is nothing new. People have been saying this for years. But, you know what, no one’s listening properly and every few years some new “guru” comes out with a fancy new term that creates a revolution in the diet industry (metabolic damage I’m looking at you) and people lose their minds like they’re the new messiah. So PAY ATTENTION!!

Here’s the simple math



You take in less energy, your body will change to burn less energy

You eat too much, your body will actually burn more

Adaptive Thermogenesis does this by:

Negative Energy Balance – AT will affect mainly your Resting Energy Expenditure, your body will burn less even when you are doing less

Positive Energy Balance – AT will affect mainly your Non Resting Energy Expenditure, your body will actually burn MORE when you do exercise

Negative Energy State:

When you “diet” by restricting calories, you will mainly affect your Resting Energy Expenditure. This is what people refer to as a slowing metabolism. Basically, the worst thing you can do to try and lose weight is to just cut calories and make no changes anywhere else.

Positive Energy State:

When you overconsume calories – at least in the short term – your body will dissipate a lot of this excess energy when you are performing exercise. Simply, the energy you burn during a workout will be MORE when you over consume your calories compared to a workout when you under consume.

So, remember our Catch 22 again? You need to eat less to create an energy deficit in order to lose fat. But if you do, your body will burn less energy, which means it will be harder to lose fat. But you need to create an energy deficit, but if you do….

And it all comes down to the concept of Adaptive Thermogenesis.

Sounds like you’re wasting your time doesn’t it?? Well, if your only approach to losing fat is simply cutting calories, then yes, you are setting yourself up to fail in the long term, but potentially causing yourself some long term effects that will not only make it harder for you to lose fat in the future, but will also most likely make you fatter in the long run.

Remember, there are two sides to the energy equation. There is energy in and there is energy out. What people sometimes forget is this is an INTERDEPENDENT relationship.

Meaning, your energy out is actually dependent upon your energy in!

And most people still think of this equation in simple black and white terms “I need to burn more energy than I consume, therefore I will cut calories”. Which may get you results in the short term, don’t get me wrong. But it also comes at a cost down the road. What they’re not realising is just by cutting calories, they are affecting the “energy out” side of the equation and are actually burning less!

The other problem is, if you over eat for too long or overeat the wrong types of foods, you can also mess up some of these processes. Damaging your metabolism is when your body stops responding to these changes in energy intake in the appropriate fashion.

How someone who is overweight responds to changes in energy balance is actually different than someone who is leaner. An overweight person WON’T have the same energy dissipation response to overfeeding as a leaner individual as they have essentially broken their metabolic response system. But again, I digress…

If this has raised more questions than it has answered so far, then good!!! It should have. Because there are answers to all of these problems and more.

What is actually happening in Adaptive Thermogenesis? What does it actually mean when someone says your metabolism is slow? And more importantly, what the heck can you actually do about it so you don’t get stuck in the same cycle of “dieting” over and over again with limited success.

In the next instalment we will be exploring Adaptive Thermogenesis in more detail and look at what is really happening inside your body. We’ll further break down your REE and nREE and see how they adapt and behave to different energy intakes and explore how you can even INCREASE the amount of energy you burn when you eat more.

For now though, let’s summarise what we looked at today.


Your body burns energy each day both while resting and during activity. These are called Resting Energy Expenditure (REE) and Non Resting Energy Expenditure (nREE).

Adaptive Thermogenesis is your bodies response to energy intake to try and preserve its energy stores.

Negative Energy Balance equals less energy you will burn (mainly affecting resting metabolism or REE)

Energy Surplus equals more energy burned (usually during exercise or your nREE)


Müller MJ, Enderle J, Bosy-Westphal A. Changes in Energy Expenditure with Weight Gain and Weight Loss in Humans. Curr Obes Rep. 2016;5(4):413-423. doi:10.1007/s13679-016-0237-4

Why Your New Years Resolution Is Failing And What You Can Do About It

Let’s face it. 2020 started with the best of intentions.

A new decade. A fresh start.

The optimism and energy levels were palpable…

If you’re like most people though, now is about the time of year where commitment starts to fade. The euphoria and motivation that started your year has simmered down to a low boil.

Motivation is lower. Energy levels are lower. It’s harder to get yourself going in the morning let alone attack anything with enthusiasm.

So what gives?? This year was supposed to be different than all the others…surely…right???

Good news is, you’re not broken, you’re just human. And you’re not alone.

Truth is, the chips are stacked against you. In 2002, Norcross found less than 10% manage to keep their resolutions for even more than a few months.

Not only that. The older you get the harder it seems to keep them

“Even more discouraging is the statistic that only 14 percent of people over 50 actually achieve their resolution compared to 39 percent of people in their 20’s.” (Statisticsbrain, 2016)

Seems a little bit hopeless doesn’t it?

The good news, is all is not lost. And even better, YOU are the one that has control of where it goes from here.

Oddly enough, people have been researching this since about the time resolutions started, so there are a few little tips and tricks to help you be one of the numbers that keeps your resolutions going. And not one of the “cautionary tale” stats.

Here are a few helpful tips to keep you back on track with your goals 2020. There’s still plenty of time to make this your best year yet.

1. Baby Steps / Track Your Progress

It’s important to be realistic with your expectations, and to realise that progress comes in the small little steps you take forward. The little wins that add up to big changes over the long term.

Don’t get disheartened by the seeming lack of results in the short therm. The important part here is to have a way to track your progress. It let’s you know how far you’ve come.

“Track your progress. It is hard to be motivated when each individual action seems so small and change so slow. Tracking your successes, big and small, can spur you to new resolve. (Tunajek, 2007)

Success breeds success. The number of times people have come in saying they have had a bad couple of days expecting bad results, but manage to pull out some great numbers. The truth is, one bad meal, one missed workout, one bad day doesn’t discount the weeks of success you had around that.

Sometimes your head lies and it’s important to have an objective measure to show how far you’ve come.

2. It’s the Little Things 

As mentioned above – and a common theme – is to focus on the little wins, the habits, the daily actions that move you towards your goal. The old sayings of “the journey of 1000 miles begins and ends with one step” still hold true.

It’s important to break your goal / resolution down in to the little minor day to day tasks that are actionable. This is why people that are successful in finance always do well with exercise. They realise that relying on winning the lottery isn’t the most sound investment strategy to getting rich in the long term. It’s the magic of compounding interest, the small consistent habits you develop that guarantee success.

And give yourself time to develop these good habits

“In 2009, University College London (UCL) discovered that it takes an average of 66 days for the average person to form a new habit. (Knapton 2020)

Once you commit to your little daily tasks that move you in the right direction, make them a priority

Set the tasks toward completing your goal as non-negotiable. One can almost always find an excuse. However, if you make a nonnegotiable decision that’s based on a sound, logical reason rather than on how you feel at the moment, you will succeed.” (Tunajek 2007)

Another important point here is not to be too hard on yourself. As mentioned above, one missed workout, one meal choice off plan, doesn’t define you as a human being. The most successful people are the ones that live each day and do each task in line with their values, but also realise that nothing is perfect all the time. Success lies in getting yourself back on your path every time you find you’ve strayed a little.

3. Support Network

“A University of California study also found that those who checked in with friends weekly were far more likely to meet their objectives.” (Knapton 2020)

Get yourself a friend, a partner or even a support group specific to your interests and goals (Tunajek 2007)

One of the big factors I have found works best with clients in the Silver Fox Program is we are all part of a small and supportive community.

Having some form of external support, whether it be from family, friends, a small group, or even just a supportive coach or trainer can make all the difference.

4. Be Accountable

This part flows naturally on from a couple of the above points. Tracking your progress, having a support network around you, all help to keep you accountable for your actions.

Action without consequence has no meaning.

Having some sort of accountability dramatically increases your chance of success.

I’ve always stuck to the idea of fortnightly weigh ins / check ins / revisions. This keeps people accountable, no matter during good phases or bad. It’s good to see where you come from and where you go, but it’s even better to have that accountability for your actions.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of accountability when it comes to sticking to a training plan either. The amount of clients that have said to me one of the main reasons they have sessions booked in is make sure they actually turn up. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day. Meetings, lunches, overtime, etc. If you don’t prioritise it, it doesn’t happen. Having a trainer sometimes and being accountable to someone elses time can be a huge boost to your success rate.

5. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself and Give It Time to See Progress

Give yourself a break and allow for imperfection. No one is exactly on target all the time and nobody’s perfect! Learn from your mistake and move on. (Tunajek, 2007)

Don’t discount the little wins you most likely have taken for granted. The small little things you do each day that are working you towards your results.

“It’s important that people feel like every little bit of self-improvement counts. Nobody can train for a marathon in a day, nor can they pay off their student loans with a single check;” (M Ufberg, 2019)

Big change comes from doing the little things often. Not the big things done a few times. 

This goes for the positives and negatives. One bad day. One bad meal. Doesn’t define you. It’s the little wins, the small things. Dare I say the habits that make you. One day at a time. One meal at a time. Death by 1000 cuts also works for you, not just against you.

It’s good to see the reward for these little things with some consistent checking in and tracking of your progress. Seek the support of a like minded group, a coach, a friend, whatever it is to help keep you going.

Start of by setting yourself a goal for today. Finish today with a few of your little boxes ticked. Even if that’s one better meal. An extra bit of walking. Your gym workout. Whatever it may be. Give yourself credit for them. Tick it off your list and focus on all the positives you will achieve today.


New Year’s Resolutions: A Fantasy of Self-Reform?

Sandra Tunajek

AANA Journal 61 (1), 28, 2007

Norcross, John & Mrykalo, Marci & Blagys, Matthew. (2002). Auld Lang Syne: Success Predictors, Change Processes, and Self-Reported Outcomes of New Year’s Resolvers and Nonresolvers. Journal of clinical psychology. 58. 397-405. 10.1002/jclp.1151.





10 Science Backed Ways To Boost Your Testosterone Naturally

Guys! It’s seriously time we had a talk. It is time to you gently open your man purse, carefully retrieve your testicles, and reattach them where they belong!

There is an epidemic sweeping men and it is increasing at an alarming rate.

And no. It’s got nothing to do with Clementine Ford or Gillette.

This is serious.

I’m talking about your Testosterone levels. 

And it is a hormone that is decreasing to levels that is literally destroying your health and wellbeing.

Chronically low testosterone levels are becoming an epidemic of sweeping proportions and it has serious health consequences.

This coming week during The Silver Fox Project is Testosterone week, and we are going to look at what testosterone does, the downside of having too little, and the scientifically proven ways you can increase yours NATURALLY.

Why Is Testosterone So Important For Your Health?

Testosterone is one of – if not THE MOST – important hormones for men.

Despite the public fascination with it, and even the negative connotations that come up these days with “too much” testosterone or “testosterone fuelled behaviour” (I’m looking at you toxic masculinity), it seriously is one of the most important hormones for health and function in men.

Honestly, so much good stuff happens with optimum levels of testosterone.

  • Increased Strength and Muscle Mass
  • Increased Bone Health
  • Decreased Body Fat
  • Better Heart Health and Decreased Risk Type II Diabetes
  • Increased Sex Drive
  • Improved Mood

“Testosterone regulates sex drive (libido), bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength, and the production of red blood cells and sperm.” (Wein)

“Testosterone has a critical role in the modulation of adult male reproductive health, sexual function, bone health, fat metabolism, and muscle mass and strength” (McBride, 2016)

I know. That all sounds absolutely amazing. But, there is one BIGGGG problem…

Your Testosterone Levels Are Dropping…Fast.

Some of it is due to ageing…

In fact, as men age, Testosterone levels naturally drop about 1% to 2% each year 

“Testosterone levels also decrease with age as rapidly as 0.4–2% annually after age 30 years” (Harman et al. 2001; Kaufman and Vermeulen, 2005; Wu et al. 2008)

But. Test levels are declining even more rapidly than this. Men just aren’t the men they used to be.

“Even up to 13% of older age men are meeting diagnostic levels for hypogonadism (small testicles)” (McBride, 2016)

It’s a freaking epidemic affecting SO MANY areas of our health and, quite frankly, not enough people are talking about.

You may think “so, what’s the big deal?” Well it IS a big deal. Low Testosterone levels are like Kryptonite for guys.

“The majority of clinical symptoms associated with hypogonadism in ageing men can be categorised as sexual or nonsexual:

Sexual symptoms include:

  • Low Sex Drive
  • Low Sperm Count and Infertility
  • Decreased Frequency of Sexual Thoughts
  • Decreased Frequency or Rigidity of Nocturnal Erections
  • Erectile Dysfunction  [Morelli et al. 2007; Corona et al. 2014].

Nonsexual symptoms include

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Decreased Energy
  • Poor Concentration
  • Decreased Sense of Well-Being
  • Depressed Mood, Decreased Vitality [Bhasin et al. 2010; Buvat et al. 2010]. 

Additional signs often associated with symptomatic hypogonadism include:

  • Increased Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Decreased Muscle Mass and Strength
  • Increased Breast Size
  • Decreased Bone-Mineral Density (BMD)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hot Flashes, and Mild Anemia [Dohle et al. 2012].

Sounds terrible right?

Yeah…It Is…

Here are some more fun facts

Central obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, low high-density lipid cholesterol, hypertension, or insulin resistance, has been highly associated with TD and low SHBG levels (Cunningham, 2015), in up to 50–70% of patients” (Vermeulen et al. 1993; Wu et al. 2010; McBride, 2016)

No wonder Testosterone Replacement Therapy has grown exponentially and turned to a billion dollar industry over the last few years.

So what are the things destroying your testosterone?

Well, like most things these days, it’s actually your lifestyle that is damaging you in so many more ways than your natural ageing is.

Here are some of the common culprits. Let me know if you tick any one or more of the following boxes…

  • Lack of Exercise
  • Carrying Too Much Body Fat
  • Too Much Alcohol
  • Not Enough Sleep
  • Stress
  • Restricting Calories Too Much
  • Not Enough Vitamin D and Zinc
  • Restricting Fat Intake Too Much
  • Overtraining

What Can You Do About It?

Sounds like it’s all bad news right? Well, it is. But here’s the good news. It doesn’t have to be that way.

As mentioned above, natural age related changes do occur, BUT!!! When you look at all of the other factors, you can see these are Lifestyle Related!

Meaning YOU HAVE CONTROL over them. Pretty simple. All the things you are doing that is killing your Test levels, do the opposite…

I know right. Mind Blowing.

So, without further ado, here are 10 Science Backed Approaches to Boosting Your Testosterone Levels, NATURALLY!

1) Exercise!!!

Probably the most obvious on the list, but also one of the most important. Strength exercise and Endurance exercises both boost testosterone levels, albeit briefly. Research has shown increases up to 20%. For guys, Higher Intensity (i.e. weights and HIIT) work better. (Jewell, 2019)

2) Don’t Get Too Fat

I have written about this in previous articles, but your fat cells are not just a storage dump for excess calories. Your fat cells are in fact an endocrine organ. Meaning they respond to, and also release hormones. Estrogen is one such hormone that gets released from your fat cells. Being too fat inhibits Testosterone and increases Estrogen levels. Obese individuals have been found to have as much as 30-50% decrease in testosterone. Man Boobs anyone?? (Arnarson, 2017, Barham, 2018)

3) Don’t Restrict Calories Too Much Or For Too Long

Proper nutrition and also the nutrition around your workout can all influence your testosterone levels. (Kraemer, 1998, Barhum, 2018) That is why on The Silver Fox Project we consistently have scheduled diet breaks so we don’t stay in any sort of calorie deficit for too long.

4) Don’t Eliminate Fat Completely From Your Diet

And don’t eliminate saturated fat from your diet. Overall try not to get below about 20% of total calories from fat. (Fantus, et al, 2020)

5) Get Enough Sleep

Getting less than 7 hours sleep each night results in you having the testosterone levels of someone 10 years older . Your test levels can drop by as much as 15-20% if you are chronically sleep deprived. (Walker, 2018) This drop happens FAST too, another study round “after only 1 week of restricted sleep, daytime testosterone levels dropped by up to 15 percent.” (Barhum, 2018)

6) Avoid Excessive Alcohol

Do I really need to elaborate?

7) Manage Stress

Cortisol is your “chronic stress” hormone and elevated levels can destroy your Testosterone levels. These two are so tightly linked, scientists will often refer to something called your Testosterone – Cortisol ratio. Simple equation, Increased Cortisol = Lower Test Levels. Finding a way to manage your stress is ESSENTIAL.

8) Don’t Overtrain

To be honest, not a problem I usually encounter with the general population. But also still important for those who always think that “more is better” is the way to go.

9) Get Some Sun

Vitamin D levels can affect your testosterone levels. Aim for approx 10-30min of outdoors per day. (Raman, 2018)

10) Take Supplements. Well, Not Really, But Maybe… 

As much as some people increase their levels in a less than legal way (cough steroids, cough), it is human nature to want to find an easier way, or some magic pill they can take to increase their levels. Unfortunately, when it comes to supplementation there is limited research showing supplementation works. Actual Testosterone Replacement Therapy can definitely be indicated if you are clinically diagnosed with hypogonadism and medically tested situations. Encouragingly, there still are a few supplements that have at least some research to show they can help improve test levels. Keep in mind, there is often conflicting evidence and the amount these can work varies. But here are some that have shown more positive research than some others.

The Supplement Quick List:

  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Creatine
  • Vitamin D
  • Melatonin

(Chase 2020)

Tribulus is popular testosterone boosting supplement, but there has been no real proven benefit in the literature.

“The results of a few studies have showed that the combination of TT with other pharmacological components increases testosterone levels, but it was not discovered which components of the mixture contributed to that effect…So far, the published data concerning TT do not provide strong evidence for either usefulness or safe usage in sport.” (Pokrywka, 2014)


If you’ve been keeping up to date with ANYTHING I have been writing over the last 15 years or so you’ll see a trend. There is a LOT of overlap on the RIGHT THINGS YOU SHOULD BE DOING when it comes to fat loss, increasing muscle, improving health, function and decreasing risk of injury. The things you you should be doing to feel younger, to look better and to move better.

It always comes back to some basic, core fundamental principles. It’s no secret that ALL of these core principles are the foundation and primary focus in The Silver Fox Project.

I’ve worked hard over the years developing these concepts in to the right balance that is easily accessible for everybody, especially as we age and “life” gets in the way. And, ironically, is when we need it more than ever.

If you are interested in learning more, or wanting to know how to optimally implement these strategies in to your own lifestyle, click on here for more information about The Silver Fox Project

The Silver Fox Information Pack


Testosterone Deficiency in the Ageing Male, J. Abram McBride, Culley C. Carson, III, and Robert M. Coward Ther Adv Urol. 2016 Feb; 8(1): 47–60.

How do you boost testosterone naturally? July 18, 2018  — Written by Lana Barhum

‘Testosterone Boosting’ Supplements Composition and Claims Are not Supported by the Academic Literature Chase G. Clemesha,1 Hatim Thaker,2 and Mary K. Samplaski2 World J Mens Health. 2020 Jan; 38(1): 115–122.

Insights into Supplements with Tribulus Terrestris used by Athletes 2014 Andrzej Pokrywka,1 Zbigniew Obmiński,2 Jadwiga Malczewska-Lenczowska,3 Zbigniew Fijałek,4 Ewa Turek-Lepa,1 and Ryszard Grucza5

Increased Risk of Hypogonadal Symptoms in Shift Workers with Shift Work Sleep Disorder.Balasubramanian A1, Kohn TP2, Santiago JE3, Sigalos JT4, Kirby EW5, Hockenberry MS5, Pickett SM6, Pastuszak AW7, Lipshultz LI8.Urology. 2020 Jan 6. 

Hormonal Responses to consecutive days of heavy resistance exercise with or without nutritional supplementation. Kraemer, WJ, Volek JS, Bush JA, Putukian M, Sebastian W J App Physiol 1998

The Association Between Popular Diets and Serum Testosterone Among Men In The United States. Fantus RJ, Halpern JA, Chang C, Keeter MK, Bennett NE, Halfand B, Brannigan RE J Urol 2020

Effects of Vitamin D3 Supplementation for 12 weeks on serum levels of anabolic hormones, anaerobic power, and aerobic performance in active male subjects: A rondomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial. Ramezani AA, Mohammadshahi M, Alizadeh A, Ahmadi AK, Jahanshahi A Eur J Sport Sci 2020




Why We Sleep 2018 Matthew Walker


3 Things You Absolutely Must Do If You Want To Strip Fat After 40

Yep. Getting older sucks. Gone are the days when all you needed to see some abs was to lay off the junk for a few days. It’s harder to lose that belly fat for sure.

Harder…But not impossible. Here are the 3 most important things you need to do to strip fat after 40. 

1. Boost Your Ageing Metabolism

It’s no secret your metabolism slows as you get older. Everyone talks about it. But no one really knows what to do about it. 

Your metabolism is tied closely to a few things. Age, Sex, Energy Intake, Muscle Mass, Body Fat, Stress Levels, Lack of sleep, Hormonal Profile…no wonder why it’s so confusing!

Unfortunately, there’s a little bit more to fat loss than just dropping a few calories. This becomes even more apparent as you get older.

One of the biggest mistakes people make in their fat loss efforts as they age is they drop their food too much. You might not actually be eating enough food as it is – or not enough of the right food anyway – and that might be precisely part of the problem!

Truth is there are specific strategies available to maximise your food intake, boost your metabolism AND decrease body fat all at the same time. Specific nutrition principles that work to help you eat more food and consume less while doing it. In fact, one of the biggest problems most people have at the beginning of the The Silver Fox program is they can’t fit all the food in! If you want your metabolism firing on all cylinders, you need to learn how to eat more. Not less. 

The other major component you can influence here is obviously the type of exercise you do. You want to focus on exercise that will work to boost lean mass and strip body fat. Exercise strategies that work to not only maximise energy burned during the workout. But for hours after as well. Up to 4-7% increase over a 24 hour period in some instances. These are the kinds or workouts you want to focus on and these are types of workouts we also focus on during the program. 

Boosting your metabolism is therefore critical. And you CAN influence it in a large number of different ways. Nutrition and Exercise are just two of these. There are also ties to the following factors. 

2. Boost Your Failing Hormones

Two problems here. Getting older sucks. And the lifestyle that comes with being and adult sucks. And – once again – these are all working against you.

Unfortunately, the hormones that stimulate Fat Loss, Boost Metabolism and Increase Lean Muscle Mass DECREASE.

While hormones that promote Fat Gain, Decrease Metabolism, and Decrease Muscle Mass INCREASE. 

Hormones – such as testosterone – that are critical for muscle mass and body fat loss, naturally decline with ageing. To compound the problem, modern lifestyle, lack of activity, lack of sleep and stress all work to further promote the decline and make the situation worse. 

At the other end of the spectrum, fat storage hormones such as esteogen, cortisol and insulin are usually pumping through your system and make fat loss even harder. They all work to increase fat, decrease muscle mass and decrease your metabolism.

Your literally accelerating the decline of the good and accelerating the increase of the bad. Talk about your proverbial pushing $hit up hill. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. Your overall energy intake is obviously important. BUT it is only important when looked at in conjunction with all of these other factors as well. 

It’s quite often said, it’s not just about calorie intake, but calories PLUS hormone optimisation that’s critical. 

And this is getting worse as you get older!

Fortunately it’s not all bad news. And the “lifestyle” part of that whole equation has a much greater effect than the natural age related changes do. So, it’s all in your power!

Unfortunately most people only focus on one or two of the critical aspects affecting your metabolism and hormonal environment. Not the whole picture. 

The Silver Fox Program ensures all your bases are covered and maximises the strategies to optimise nutrition and training to boost metabolism AND optimise your hormonal environment. By implementing these strategies you can literally turn back your body clock and have it functioning as it was years younger. 

As we’ve mentioned a couple of times already. The final missing piece of the puzzle is 

3. Manage your Stress and Sleep

I’ve written extensively about the effects chronic stress hormones like cortisol can have on your metabolism and body fat in the past. 

I’ve also written recently about the effect that chronically under sleeping can have on your metabolism, fat loss, testosterone levels, etc. 

And let’s be honest. These two are BIG lifestyle factors that you definitely can do more about. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I get it. Life is hard. You have work, family, finances, kids, they’re all not going away soon. And we can’t do too much about those external stressors a lot of the time. But we CAN influence our response to these. And control what we have control over. 

Again, we look to adopt specific strategies that improve your stress and sleep to offset any of the negative effects these can bring. 

Overall. There are many age related changes that are compounded by modern lifestyle. The most important and most powerful of these ARE actually more within your control than you think. 

Even though changes take place as you age, you can influence these more than you think. You’re not a slave to your years and you would be surprised at how much you can change in such a short amount of time if you focus your efforts in the right areas. 

As mentioned previously. Most programs focus on only one or two of these areas. Don’t underestimate the compounding and interdependent effect these can have on each other to magnify your results.

Nutriton + Exercise = great results

But Proper Nutrition + Correct Exercise + Stress Management + Sleep Optimisation = even greater.

It’s like 1+1+1+1=5. 

The Silver Fox Project was developed specifically to combat all of these areas simultaneously. It has all of the nutrition, exercise and lifestyle management strategies to take care of your sluggish metabolism, faltering hormonal system and your stressful and sleepless lifestyle. 

Yep. Getting older sucks.

Or, if you’ve seen the latest Jumanji movie “Getting old is a gift..”

Truth is, are you doing enough to take advantage of that gift?

It’s not too late to join the project. Click here to register.

How Your Lack of Sleep is Killing Your Gains, And You

What if I said there was one thing you could start doing today that would immediately 

  • Reverse your Testosterone back 10 Years Younger
  • Boost your Metabolism
  • Accelerate your Fat Loss
  • Decrease your Risk of Injury by up to 60%
  • Improve Performance by up to 20-30%
  • Decrease your risk of Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes and Alzheimers

AND It requires absolutely No Effort, No Workout, No Gym and Costs You Nothing

Would you do it?

Sadly I honestly don’t think you would

But it I’m going to do my best to convince you…

This is probably the most important and eye opening article I have ever researched and written.

For years and years I have studied, researched and written the hell out of topics on nutrition, exercise and fat loss. But this topic has literally been a game changer for me. (Not to be confused with the other “game changer” that is literally about nothing)

I’ve always known and talked about how important your Sleep is. But the more I dove in to the research, the more I’ve come to appreciate just how important. 

This information is by no means new, but a lot of the details are definitely new to me. And hopefully new to some of you too.

It is no secret that the idea of surviving and thriving on less sleep is championed and often praised in modern society. People talk about it as if it is super human and others wear it like a badge of honour.

I’m definitely guilty of that, often priding myself on only getting 5-6 hours of sleep each night. Thinking I am somehow more productive, like it is a testament to my dedication, my ambition and my drive to be more and do more each and every day.

Thinking I am absolutely crushing it, that I am somehow super human. While everyone else is just…lazy…

And I am happy to admit I am 100% absolutely and positively wrong.

It shouldn’t be something that is celebrated. It shouldn’t be something to strive for. It should be something that is feared. It should be something that is viewed as the antithesis of exactly what I am trying to live and preach.

We’ve known for a while now that chronic sleep deprivation (read modern lifestyle) increases your risk of

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimers

Now, the reason I think most people don’t take this seriously is because it seems EVERYTHING today causes all of those things. Modern Life causes all of these things.

Myself included. I already knew this, but when you look at some of the more specific and insidious ways in which sleep deprivation affects your body, it really does hit closer to home.

And it really does make you appreciate just how you are contributing to your own lack of results in your fat loss efforts and a slow path towards a decrease in health…and death.

Let me just start by saying, according to the research, you should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep each and every day. If you are one of the few people that are consistently getting this, then, well done, you might want to read on to see all the things you are saving yourself from.

If you are like me and only get 5-6 hours a night (anything less than 7), or you work shifts, OR have kids, then read on. This is definitely for you.

And, the best part, all of it is EASY. It’s FREE. And it takes ABSOLUTELY NO EFFORT on your part.

***Sign up to our Newsletter and get your FREE 5 Essential Steps to the Perfect Night’s Sleep. Easy actionable steps for you to start getting a better nights sleep straight away***

It Destroys Your Exercise Gains

“Men who sleep 5-6 hours a night will have testosterone levels of someone 10 years their senior…” (Walker, 2018)

This is especially worrying for middle aged men who’s test levels are already on a downward spiral. Imagine being mid 40’s (where it’s already been declining over the past decade) and having the test levels of someone mid 50’s?? If there was a way you could literally get the test levels of someone 10 years younger and you could do it NATURALLY, would you do it? You freaking bet!! So why aren’t you?

Being chronically sleep deprived also

  • Decreases Insulin Sensitivity
  • Increases Cortisol
  • Decreases Thyroid activity
  • Causes Hypogonadism

All of these things lead to increase body fat, decreased muscle mass, decreased metabolism, increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, you name it.

Talk about totally working against your fat loss efforts. It’s no surprise then you are more likely to lose muscle over fat when in a calorie deficit when you are sleep deprived. In fact “70% of the loss when in a calorie deficit is from muscle loss when you are sleep deprived” (Walker, 2018). Some of these factors can be offset with exercise, but even then, you are having to exercise your butt off just to break even, so to speak.

If you are a shift worker, it is even more bad news. Shift workers have higher rates of

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimers
  • Cancer, especially prostate, bowel and breast.

(*see how these words keep cropping up again and again??)

If you sleep 5-6 hours per day, you are also more likely to eat 200-300 calories MORE each day. People who are under slept are more likely to eat more and eat more of the WRONG things, such as high sugar and high processed foods. This is through a complex mechanism of certain hormones (leptin and grehlin) which I won’t be covering here.

In a nutshell, it’s harder for you to lose fat, it’s harder for you to get improvements in body composition, you are more likely to over eat on the wrong foods and you have serious health consequences…These reasons should be enough to wake you up (reverse pun intended). But, if you need any more reasons, read on…

Decreases Performance

Sleep deprivation also leads to a dramatic loss in performance. People who get 6 hours of sleep or less, your “time to physical exhaustion drops by up to 30%” (you fatigue quicker)

And, anything less than 7 hours, you get measurable decreases in performance in

  • Peak muscle strength
  • Vertical jump height
  • Peak running speed

If you have ever tried doing a high intensity workout the morning after a bad nights sleep and it SUCKED, you now know why. Think of that on a chronic scale.

Just in case you’re not following the story so far. It robs you of your workout gains, AND it makes your performance during your actual workouts suck.

These numbers are some of the first I have ever seen that are the hard numbers in decreased performance. And, to be honest, they’re worrying.

Impairs Motor Skills and Learning

It turns out, sleep is absolutely critical in the process of you learning a new skill. Researchers measured brain cells firing while learning a skill and then during sleep. What they found was the brain replays the exact same sequence, at a speed that was 20 times FASTER! It’s like it is replaying it again and again on fast forward, laying down the track for the neural connections.

The results is, you come back the next day “20-30% better in terms of your skilled performance than where you were at the end of your practice session the day before” (Walker, 2018)

If you have ever been frustrated with trying to learn something new, or been stuck on a problem, the old adage of “sleep on it” proves to be true.

This also breeds the new axiom of

Practice doesn’t make perfect

Practice Plus Sleep Makes Perfect

“Sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting” (Walker 2018)

The reverse is also true. Lack of sleep leads to impairment of mental function. You have heard before that being sleep deprived is equivalent of being legally drunk. The most important part of that is YOU AREN’T AWARE of the deficiencies.

Most people sleep less hours because they think they will get more done with their day, turns out the REVERSE is actually true.

By getting more sleep and better quality sleep, you will be more alert and you will be more productive. Period. MORE productive than if you are sleep deprived. 

Increases Injury Risk

This is one big for me, especially coming from a physiotherapy stand point. There is a perfect linear relationship between how many hours you sleep and your risk of injury.

The less sleep, the higher your injury risk. In fact, if you go from 9 hours to 5 hours sleep, you will have a 60% increase in probability of injury risk! (Walker, 2018)

Makes you think twice about all of those athletes who go out partying the night before a big game…

This is due to stability muscles failing when don’t get enough sleep along with changes to neurological timing and coordination

Do Alcohol and Drugs Help Get You To Sleep?

In a word. No.

Alcohol and Marijuana can put you to sleep quicker in some instances, but they actually block REM sleep.

Sedation is NOT sleep. So watch those night caps…

One final bonus bit of information

Incidences of Heart Attack INCREASE 24% the Monday after the change over to Daylight Savings and DECREASES 21% on the changeover back. (heart.org)

If these Stats aren’t seriously something for you to stand up and take notice, I don’t know what is.


So, there you go. Just by the simple act of getting more sleep you can

  • Improve your Test levels up to someone 10 years younger than where you are at the moment
  • Decrease your Risk of Injury by up to 60%
  • Increase Performance by up to 20-30%
  • Improve Fat Loss
  • Boost your Metabolism
  • Improve your Insulin Sensitivity
  • Increase Mental Alertness and Producitivity
  • Decrease your risk of Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes Alzheimers. Some of the BIGGEST killers in terms of diseases today.


I seriously work my butt off with my clients to even get a FRACTION of these results, when they can EASILY start doing something positive for themselves every day.

This is why it is now such a big part in the SILVER FOX PROGRAM. If you want to learn more click here

Obviously, there are 2 parts to this. You need an increase Quantity of sleep. But, just as important, you want Increased QUALITY. That’s why I’ve put together this helpful little manual below to help you maximise BOTH of these.

As this article is already WAAAAAY too long, you can download the manual here for free if you sign up to our Newsletter. Just hit the link below.

Sign up to Our Newsletter and receive FREE your own 5 Essential Steps to the Perfect Nights Sleep


Matthew Walker Why We Sleep (2018)

Effects of sleep restriction on metabolism-related parameters inhealthy adults: A comprehensive review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Review article Zhu B, et al. Sleep Med Rev. 2019.

Association between Sleep Duration and Subclinical Thyroid Dysfunction Based on Nationally Representative Data. Kim W, et al. J Clin Med. 2019.

Effects of Two-Week Sleep Extension on Glucose Metabolism in Chronically Sleep-Deprived Individuals. So-Ngern A, et al. J Clin Sleep Med. 2019.

Metabolic and hormonal effects of ‘catch-up’ sleep in men with chronic, repetitive, lifestyle-driven sleep restriction. Killick R, et al. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2015.

Impact of Sleep Deprivation on the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal Axis and Erectile Tissue.
Lee DS, et al. J Sex Med. 2019.


Should You Train While Injured?

Here are 3 reasons why you should be training even harder!!

What are you usually told when you are injured?

“You need to rest it”

“Don’t do anything, you have to let it heal”

“You can’t keep training, it’ll just make it worse”

“You can’t train your other side, you’ll become unbalanced”

On the surface, all of these sound pretty reasonable. If you want to recover quickly and safely, this is the most logical approach right?

Well, what if I was to say this was the WORST thing you could possibly do while injured? That training through your rehab not only helps keep your strength and fitness up, but that it also works to accelerate the recovery process and prevents imbalances down the road.

Here are 3 Scientific / Evidence Based Reasons Why You Should Be Training HARDER When Injured

1.Don’t Punish Your Good Side

Even health professionals are guilty of advocating time off from training completely. Some even go so far as to recommend NOT training your good side in an attempt to reestablish “balance”.

“But, but, if you have a 10-15% difference in strength between sides you increase your risk of injury by…”

Ok. Settle down there junior. Adults are talking…

So, if I’ve got this right, you’re telling me you are deliberately trying to DETRAIN your GOOD SIDE to CATCH UP with your WEAKER SIDE???? Who thinks this backwards logic actually makes sense??

The only thing you’ll achieve here is TWO weaker sides that will be more prone to injury when you try and return to normal activity.

Here’s a pro tip

You want each side to be as strong as each other at the END of rehab. NOT THE START

I’ll repeat that again. The goal of your rehab..is for both sides..to be as strong as each other at the END of your rehab. Not the beginning. I’ll give you time to let that sink in….

Secondly, the only thing you achieve by resting is losing all fitness and conditioning you did have, as well as decreasing the overall capacity for your body and tissue to handle load. Both of these an even a bigger risk for overloading the tissue when you do return back to “normal” training.

You’ll be weak, unfit and won’t be able to perform better, but hey, you’ll be in “balance”

2. Use the Magic of Cross Education

If I told you you could train your good side and it would help to make your injured side stronger, would you believe me? Or would you think it’s some sort of pseudo science BS made up? Well, rejoice, because thanks to the neuromagical wizardry that is known as Cross Education, you can!

Training your good side actually affects the opposite side and helps to offset any decreases in strength that occurs when you can’t train the affected limb directly.

It’s something physio’s have used for years in rehab. It’s something you should be using too.

So start training your good side even harder. This will have an overflow effect on to your injured side and actually help offset any strength loss and facilitate it’s recovery later.

This is where people will usually regale you with “you’re going to have one huge side one small side” or “you’re just going to become unbalanced”. In truth, you’ll be lucky to maintain strength and size on your good side (you’ll most likely still lose some) and you will attenuate losses on your injured side to the best you’re able to. Both pretty big positives in anyones book. So you have my permission to reply with “hahaha, yeah, get ($*&%”

3. Train the Chain

No movement in the body ever happens in isolation. Jumping, for example, involves the ankle, knee and hip joints, and – not surprisingly – a large number of muscle groups around and adjacent to these areas. Muscles coordinate with each other to perform specific movements and we’ve termed these coordinated groups a Kinetic Chain. Ok, stay with me here, I’m going somewhere with it…

You may have heard the term Posterior Chain when describing powerful hip extension. This posterior chain is made up of muscles such as your Hamstrings, Glute’s and Lower Back erectors and it’s the powerful coordination of these groups that add to power in a lot of sporting activities such as jumping, squatting, deadlifting, etc.

When you injure a joint, muscle or ligament, you not only affect everything in its immediate vicinity, but you also affect all the other related muscles further away in their respective Kinetic Chain.

Therefore, one of your goals in rehab is to not only prevent strength losses in the affected area, but also to promote strength in all of the muscles in the Kinetic Chain that are important for activity.

Sprain your ankle? There is evidence the Glutes can become inhibited for 6 weeks after. It’s imperative then you incorporate exercises to address all of these muscle groups. Not just focus on the injured area.

In other words, you have to TRAIN THE CHAIN. 

Also. You have 3 other fully functioning limbs!! Use them! Keep training. Keep active. There is no reason to EVER stop training and pushing yourself harder. By training hard through your rehab process you will stay fitter, stronger and return to full activity faster.

To Summarise:

Keep training your good side HARD. Keep training key muscles in the Kinetic Chain

  1. You want both sides to be strong at the end of rehab, not the start
  2. Cross Education helps mitigate strength loss on the injured side
  3. Keep the muscles in the adjacent areas and the Kinetic Chain strong

The obvious caveat to these are to consult your health professional for the appropriate exercises and loading progressions to suit YOUR own individual circumstances. If you are suffering from low back pain or neck pain, these specific rules may not apply to your situation.

If only there was a trainer, that was also physio, that was also qualified in nutrition that knew how to implement all of these things for you…?

If you want to know more about what is applicable for your individual situation, contact me for a consult today

Or join us now for the next 6 week challenge If your niggles and injuries are stopping you from making the commitment, now there’s no excuse.


Jill Cook Lecture Series Trust Me Ed, Current Concepts in Tendon Rehabilitation 2019

Ebonie Rio Lecture Series Trust Me Ed, Tendons – Load, Pain and the Brain 2019

Nutrient Timing – It Still Matters

Do you remember the old days when nutrient timing was a thing? And then the Calorie Counting zealots and Keto crew made their comeback and then it wasn’t a thing?

Well, I’m here to tell you that even though Nutrient Timing is not THE most important thing, it’s still a thing.

One question to keep in the back of your mind when reading the following, is the best nutrition for performance the same as best nutrition for body composition? Can you get the best of both worlds?

In some instances yes, in some no. The most important thing to do is always look at the context of what the results are trying to tell you.

Without trying to make this a long bloated and drawn out post, I’ll try and keep the following points as short as possible.

  1. Just because you have a protein shake with some fast acting carbs after your workout DOES NOT mean you are going to get god like gains. Overall macro intake for the day is obviously more important than when. However, as you know from previous articles, you CAN optimise meal number, frequency and protein composition to optimise results (read previous posts on protein consumption). Having fast acting carbs and protein post workout DOES increase muscle protein synthesis rates and replenish carbohydrate stores.
  2. Yes, even if you spread your carbohydrate intake throughout the day, or have it in one bolus dose post workout, your muscle glycogen replenishment over a 24 hour period will be the same. BUT are the results in body composition the same?? Ironically, people cite research to prove themselves right in one area, and often fail to see the implications in another. Remember when you were told you shouldn’t eat carbs after 4pm or 5pm? Then a whole bunch of research came out proving this false? One research paper proving this was completed in 2011 (1). This research showed that people who consumed 80% of their daily carbohydrate intake at night actually lost more weight and fat than those who consumed their evenly spread throughout the day. Can you see the implications of the above two bits of research? If you want the best results in performance AND body composition you are better off consuming the bulk of your carbohydrate intake as a bolus dose rather than spread out evenly throughout the day. Recovery for glycogen is the same, but one method is superior for body composition results.
  3. Something we’ve known for a long long time, but “During high intensity exercise, the provision of carbohydrate is a good strategy to offset fatigue and enhance performance.” (2) Again, put this in to context of the above research. Not only are you better off consuming the bulk of your carbohydrates in a bolus dose, if you want to optimise recovery and performance, you need to distribute this optimally around your workout too.


My theory is and has always been: optimise nutrition to get your body composition results, but you don’t want your workouts to suck either. The better quality of your workouts, the better results you will get in body composition goals.

Protein intake should be spread evenly throughout the day to maximise the muscle protein synthesis response. Carbohydrate intake needs to be distributed correctly to optimise workout performance and recovery as well as maximise desired body composition gains.

Ensure macro targets for overall body composition goals. Nutrient timing to maximise performance and recovery

If you want to know how this works in practice for your own individual circumstances, be sure to contact me.


  1. Sofer, S., Eliraz, A., Kaplan, S., Voet, H., Fink, G., Kima, T., & Madar, Z. (2011). Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner. Obesity, 19(10), 2006-2014.
  2. Sport Nutrition Conference 2008 Repeated Sprinting: Application in Team Sports. Stuart Phillips, Ph.D.
    Exercise Metabolism Research Group McMaster University