Episode 141 - Dr. Stephen Phinney


This episode was great, AND…

Dr Phinney sounds so much like David Schwimmer that I spent the whole episode imagining it was Ross from Friends talking about keto.

I loved it.

(⚕ lowcarb.skrinak.com ⚕) #2

I’ve done a partial transcription of this episode, it is so deeply satisfying.

Update/Edit: here’s one section of my notes from the podcast:

0:38:45 Exercise/not exercise study. At 60% peak performance, the exercising participants burned around 700 calories a day. The results showed that the body sensed it was in privation, slowed down metabolism, commensurate with energy needed to support the daily exercise. Resting metabolic rate for those whom exercised experienced decreased resting metabolism to offset the difference. There was no difference in weight loss. The body accurately calculated the difference between the requirement for exercise, and those that didn’t exercise. Satiety is all part of the same system.

In other words, if I understand this, there’s no magic to using exercise for weight management. In fact, it may add complexity, particularly for the new initiates


THis was the part that surprised/confused me as I am sure that I have heard other people say exercise increases your metabolism rate…did I misunderstand something?

(Bunny) #4

The catch unless your an endurance athlete, is in futility if your trying to burn fat and thinking if you exercise vigorously for hours your actually doing something to promote that fat burning (nada, not happening), the only kind of exercise that will burn fat is fast bursting exercise like HIIT which only takes seconds to get the human growth hormone (HGH) going in the recovery phase when you sleep and then bam you start oxidizing fat and making ketones from your own body fat not dietary fats! The thing about HIIT is timing and how much of that you can endure the more you do it?

BTW: The longer you excercise the more your prolonging how much glucose remains in your bloodstream (spiking insulin?) from glycogen stores in skeletal muscle tissue!

(Bob M) #5

There are many studies indicating that if you increase your exercise, you decrease the amount of energy in your “resting” phases. This is particularly why studies where they randomize children into two groups, one with forced exercise, and one without, both groups will burn the same amount of calories. The forced-into-exercise kids go home and mellow out, while the kids who did not do the exercise go home and freak out. There’s a theory that there’s an upper limit to the amount of calories humans burn, such that hunter-gatherers burn basically the same number of calories as people in offices:

(Looks like they locked this down, though. I was able to read the entire article at one time.)

This is why exercise is basically useless for losing weight.

I have, however, been able to lose weight while biking 90+ miles per week. I think that was because, however, it affected my insulin and insulin resistance.

(charlie3) #6

The right exercise is necessary to preserve muscle mass, especially when someone is dieting to lose weight.

(⚕ lowcarb.skrinak.com ⚕) #7

This makes sense in a CICO-paradigm. I’m skeptical it’s true with Keto/LCHF.

(Bob M) #8

I’m not sure that’s true. If you lose 100 pounds, you’ll naturally lose muscle mass, as you have 100 pounds less weight you have to carry around. However, you should still preserve your other muscle mass. There is no reason to think your body is going to cannibalize muscle for weight loss.

I’m not saying exercise isn’t beneficial. I’ve exercised all my life, even while gaining 90+ pounds. I still exercise, though I’ve gone from higher volume, lower intensity, to higher intensity, lower volume. But if you’re exercising to lose weight, the exercise is unlikely to help. And if you’re a slave to the scale, it’s likely to hurt. Over the course of a year, according to DEXA scans, I gained 3.3 pounds of muscle and lost 5.6 or so pounds of fat. A near 10 pound swing in body composition. My scale,however, showed a mere 2 pound difference (assuming I could even see that, which I could not.)

(⚕ lowcarb.skrinak.com ⚕) #9

That sounds reasonable enough. I’m reacting to where I’ve lost weight on restricted caloric diets and I lost fat and muscle and I looked like I was in chemo. That is not a problem now and I greatly appreciate the difference, now that I’m decades older. So perhaps its more accurate to say the muscle loss is far less dramatic on LCHF versus low-calorie.

(Beth) #10

I can’t find the article I was reading on autophagy at the moment (written by Jason Fung), but it had a list of things that trigger autophagy and exercise was on the list. I’m not an expert in such matters, but it seems that exercise plays a role in a bigger wellness picture. 1) helps with insulin resistance 2) helps with strength 3) helps with stress reduction 4) may induce autophagy.

I used to be a competitive bicycle racer fueled by low fat and carbs. I can attest to the fact that I couldn’t outride a bad diet as I yo-yoed up and down significantly while riding and training aggressively. I exercise a lot less now, maintain weight within a few lbs. and exercise moderately on a regular basis. Yay, LCHF!


I’m only partway through the episode, and I found this ^ fascinating but also incomplete. If the women in the trial had been fat-adapted, it’s reasonable to assume that there would have been a dramatically different response for both the exercisers and non-exercisers.

If you have access to your fat stores, why would your metabolic rate decrease?

Phinney also has studies showing that folks on HFLC dropped 3.5% body fat in 12 weeks, but adding resistance training bumped that up to 5.3%, which is rather significant and shows that there is actually magic in using (the right kind of) exercise for weight management.*

*or rather for fat loss, which is usually what people want when they’re interested in weight loss.

(⚕ lowcarb.skrinak.com ⚕) #12

Excellent question!

(CharleyD) #13

MyFitnessPal hardest hit. :joy:

(⚕ lowcarb.skrinak.com ⚕) #14

Speaking of “hardest hit.”

(CharleyD) #15

Is it even possible to get them yanked from public health research and policy? They have a lot of momentum…

(Justin Jordan) #16

I’ve always had a disproportionate response to exercise. I do indeed lose more weight by adding it than math would be indicate.

This was particularly true when I was a teenager - I’d lose 40 pounds or so over a track season despite eating more (a lot more) than I did in the off season.

(⚕ lowcarb.skrinak.com ⚕) #17

Indeed. Which is why I’m a big fan of Nina Teicholz’s Nutrition Coalition

(charlie3) #18

Keto for me is part of what I do to be healthier. Keto is not an end in itself–for me. Also in my healthier tool box are reduced eating times, exercise, etc.

The documents below were used for the governments physical activity and dietary recommendations to Americans.

Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Report access page

Or the report in PDF, large

Another one, is a similar scope advisory report that informs the Dietary Guidelines, what the government thinks Americans should eat. I’ve listened to most of it via text to speech. I understand better now why the dietary guidelines are what they are and more of the reasons why they are so hard to change. (Food is a controversial topic because everybody eats. Exercise is not controversial because so few people do it and there isn’t a fraction of the money to be made compared to food.

Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee


or direct to the very large pdf on diet

(CharleyD) #19

Thanks for reminding me, I wanted to donate… :heavy_dollar_sign:

(Todd Allen) #20

The study compared people over a few weeks eating a very calorie restricted diet, ~800 calories/day. One group did low intensity aerobic cycling and the other group did nothing. Both groups lost the same amount of weight, a little over 1 kg per week. The exercising group showed a larger drop in basal metabolic rate.

It’s an interesting study but I wouldn’t interpret it as exercise is useless. I don’t think the study measured body fat so it is possible the exercising group had a better change in body composition despite not losing more weight or better indicators of health such as blood pressure. And there are many other scenarios to consider. Would brief high intensity workouts produce a different result? What about when eating a maintenance level of calories or when fasting or periodic fasting as opposed to sustained deep caloric restriction? And what about sustaining slow rates of weight loss over much longer time scales?

My personal view is exercise is of little value for weight loss over short time scales. But a lack of exercise can contribute to muscle loss which can become detrimental to health, especially with advancing age.