Lately, I’ve gotten quite a few questions from listeners about the importance of factoring in your maximum aerobic heart rate minus your age when exercising. I’ve talked a lot about the benefits you receive from doing this practice, but what happens when you (accidentally) exceed that figure?
Unfortunately, it can be all too easy to go over your ideal training heart rate. But it’s very important to be careful about not exceeding that number when you’re building cardio endurance and getting better at burning fat – because if you do, the metabolic effects of your workout will be altered. This is because exceeding your maximum heart rate causes you to tap into “glucose burning,” which will make it more difficult for your body to go back to a fat-burning state. However, it’s totally understandable how people can easily go over their max heart rate, so be sure to use a wireless heart monitor and keep at it with the MAF method of training!
Speaking of slowing down, I then tackle a question from a listener, a surgeon who has been taking a polarized approach to training (either low intensity or going super hard) and has been grappling with how he feels when he goes low-carb, for years. He also doesn’t find the literature or data supporting the low-carb argument to be especially strong, and wants to know if I know of any competitive Nordic skiers who have done well on a low carb diet? What an interesting question….as long as you’re doing a good job with your fat-burning workouts, and not drifting into glucose burning (by using the MAF training method) then you should be fine. But if you’re doing a lot of glucose burning workouts and consuming a lot of carbs, you will gain a lot from slowing down and pacing your workouts. This is because slowing down ultimately helps you go faster.
When it comes to the question of the amount of carbs that you should eat, focus more on the type of carbs you’re eating first. Try to stay away from refined carb products like pasta, bread, even those super tempting gluten-free pizza crusts – sure, they are gluten-free, but it’s also still processed food. You only live once, so of course you should enjoy some pizza every once in a while, but in terms of a sustainable carb source, you can’t go wrong with root vegetables. Because they’re whole foods, they make the best go-to carbohydrate option you can choose from. Plus, they’re loaded with nutrients. Try beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes, and things that are not as common, like taro and plantain, which are both super delicious. If you want to add some flavor, try mixing a little bit of curry powder with Primal Kitchen mayonnaise (and a splash of water or lemon juice) for an awesome dipping sauce for your sweet potato fries, or try frying some plantain slices in coconut oil and a little salt – delicious, easy, and satisfying! You also might find it most helpful to simply focus less on carbs, and more on nutrients. Most importantly – listen to your appetite. This has been a wonderful revelation for me recently and has allowed me to optimize my carb intake in conjunction with days that I perform more intense workouts. And, it also allows me to enjoy one of my favorite snacks, popcorn, without regressing into the Fatty Popcorn Boy again. Ultimately, going with the flow more and listening to your intuition is what I have found works best for me.
Interestingly, one of the original definitions in the dictionary of the word “diet” used to signify a day’s journey, or a way of thinking. So why not approach your diet the old-school way? You can’t go wrong if you just take it day by day, go with the flow, and respect your intuition and your natural appetite.
Justin asks what is damaged if you go over the Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate of 180 minus your age? He says it’s easy to go over. [02:36]
Lee from Manchester England compliments Brad’s work and accent! [12:06]
A 61-year old orthopedic trauma surgeon writes in. He does polarized training and his concern is the problem he is having when he goes for low carbs. [13:43]
Go by your appetite!! Go with the flow!! [23:35]
Are you carrying excess body fat or not? [25:45]
- “Slowing down will help you go faster, be healthier, and have more success.”
- “Go by your appetite!!!”
LISTEN:Download Episode MP3
Get Over Yourself Podcast
Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is author and athlete, Brad Kearns, discovering ways to be healthy, fit and happy in hectic, high-stress, modern life. So let’s slow down and take a deep breath. Take a cold plunge and expertly balance that competitive intensity with an appreciation of the journey. That’s the theme of the show. Here we go.
Hi listeners, this time for another brief Q and A show. Some interesting questions. Let’s jump right into it. People try their best to live healthy, do the right thing. Justin writes in, I love your content and listen to prime one during this on audio book. Thanks for your personality. Oh yes. If you’re listening to a 13 hour audio book, you got to have some outtakes, man. You’ve got to have some fresh value added for the audio version versus the written version. Stuff you can’t do on a page. Let me put it that way. So go and listen to any of my audio recordings, including Keto Reset Diet and Keto for Life, where I got into the fancy pantsy penguin random house studios to knock that thing out with my own audio engineer looking through the window, making funny gestures at me, especially when I went off script and I have a tendency to do that. I just start yapping on a little value added insight.
And the guy’s trying to follow me word for word as per the protocol when you’re recording a audio book, the fancy way and he’s shaking his head going, what the heck is going on? And then he got used to it. So we were in a good groove listening to those two books as well as all the primal books on audible. I know I’m big fan right now. I should do a commercial, huh? I know they have commercials on podcasts but audible is a great way to keep up with your reading when your eyes get too tired at night like me cause I’m looking at a screen all day but punching up those audio books and lots of fun. Uh, not every time when I’m out exercising cause I like to explore and listen to nature too. But I will crank through some of those books going at 1.75 speed or 2.0 speed in that way I can listen to a book and half the time it says, because I’m listening to all the insights and not moving much unless it’s a really complex, complicated book that I have to slow down to 1.5 1.25 or even 1.0 anyway, Justin continues.
He says, I don’t feel I’ve learned enough about accidentally going a few beats over your maximum aerobic heart rate here and there during a training session. I know that this has been addressed, but not in depth based on the content I come across. Maybe you have a podcast and I missed out. Please let me know. He’s a mountain biker, a skate skier, and on both those activities it’s very easy to blow past your training heart rate in his case 140 so the huge importance here, I’ve done entire shows on this over on the primal endurance podcast channel. Uh, but the essence of it is that when you’re conducting an aerobic training session, when you’re teaching your body to burn fat and build your cardiovascular endurance, you want to limit your effort to 180 minus your age in beats per minute as your training heart rate.
And what that number indicates is your maximum aerobic heart rate, the point where you’re burning maximum fat calories per minute, maximum fat oxidation per minute with a minimal amount of anaerobic stimulation and minimal amount of glucose burning. And as you drift over that maximum aerobic number, what happens is you start to burn less fat and an increasing percentage of glucose. Obviously, the faster you go, the greater percentage of glucose that you have to burn to fuel your muscles, fuel your energy systems with a quicker burning fuel than fat, which requires the mitochondria uses oxygen. And so it’s appropriate for when we’re at rest we’re burning mostly fat and when we’re exercising comfortably, and if you dip over that number, the uh, the metabolic effects of the workout are altered. And so when you’re doing a proper fat burning session, it’s very important to keep your heart rate in that fat burning zone for the duration of the session.
And also to warm up very carefully and gradually. What happens if you tap into glucose burning is you kind of get stuck there in a sense. In other words, if you start to bring glucose into the picture, your body has a difficult time recalibrating back to exclusively fat burning. So if you’re going in a workout and Oh, it’s just one hill, I only went up for a couple minutes of higher heart rate, that will ruin or compromise the metabolic effects of the workout and you’ll kick out of exclusive fat burning into that combination. And, uh, some of the scientists call it the black hole. In other words, a training intensity that is too difficult to be classified as a true fat burning session, uh, but not really challenging enough to be considered a breakthrough session, a high intensity explosive session where you’re working on, uh, those, uh, attributes of peak performance when you’re sprinting or doing a proper interval session.
So the point is to take it easy. You should be able to breathe comfortably, carry on a conversation without getting out of breath and monitoring that heart rate very carefully with a wireless heart rate monitor. Uh, no matter what level of, uh, activity, what level of commitment you have to fitness, even for novices, it’s extremely important. So if you’re listening going, why is he talking about all this jock stuff with these super athletes, I just go to the gym and do my StairMaster and watch the news on CNN. Uh, you’re having a big, huge difference, kind of a split in the road, whether it’s an effective fat-burning session or whether it’s a slightly too strenuous combo, fat burning sugar burning session. And when you have concurrent goals of burning body fat, better may be dropping excess body fat, becoming more fat adapted through dietary strategies.
You want those workouts to compliment your dietary efforts. So the fat burning session kind of turbocharges fat metabolism for hours and hours after the workout, the metabolic effects of workout have been seen to last for up to 72 hours. That’s from dr Phil Maffetone. So if you’re doing a good fat burning session and then you’re eating appropriately, getting rid of the processed carbs, the high insulin stimulating eating those nutritious meals, high in natural nutritious fats, then you can trend in that direction of becoming a fat burning beast easily and effortlessly. Dropping excess body fat and all as well. Unless you go on a little bit too hard or like Justin mentioned speaking for so many athletes, including myself, Justin, I know it’s tough because the pace is so comfortable and so easy to exceed that, that number, that beep beep beep 180 minus your age, that it’s hard to stay focused.
Um, and that’s why the wireless heart rate monitor becomes so important. You have to have that feedback, you have to have that beeper alarm set that will regulate you when you’re out there on the road, especially with things like, uh, cardiac drift or the, a cumulative fatigue of a workout. And what that means is even if you’re running the same speed, let’s say you’re running, you’re comfortable, nine minute miles or whatever, and you’re at mile two, mile three ,mile four, pretty soon this phenomenon called cardiac drift occurs where even though you’re running the same speed and feel the same exertion, your heart rate drifts higher a bit, uh, due to the accumulation of fatigue from the run, even if you’re not talking about a major effort. So even when you’re running along comfortably, the idea is to respect that heart rate limit such that you slow down in the latter stages of your workout and you do this routinely.
I know it goes against your competitive instincts and the fitness ethos to no pain, no gain, or to suffer through it and keep your pace for the whole workout and congratulate yourself at the end with a Jamba Juice. And yeah, you know why you want that jump a juice that quick hit a sugar? It’s because you exceeded your maximum aerobic heart rate and made it something different than the intended benefit of a fat burning session. So yeah, I’ll give an emphatic, a recommendation to be extremely disciplined with regulating that heart rate and making sure that it doesn’t exceed even for brief periods, uh, the maximum aerobic heart rate, a lot of cyclists will come back at me. They be coming back at me saying, Brad, you don’t understand. These hills are so tough. The heart has to beep just to get up to the top of the Hill without falling over.
And to that I say, might go into the bike shop and get yourself a bigger gear. You know, more teeth of a larger chain ring in the back, not chain ring larger Sprocket, what do they call it? Free wheel, sorry. Bikers. I’ve been out of it for a while. The chain rings in the front and the free wheels in the back of a bicycle. So you want more teeth on your easiest FreeWheel gear in the back. Uh, and what happens then is that, especially on a mountain bike, you can go 1.5 miles an hour without falling over. You’ll just be peddling, uh, kind of at a significant rate and going nowhere because the gear is so easy. But that’s the point. You just kind of make your way gradually, steadily up the hill without exerting yourself, without straining yourself. And then preserving the intended benefits of the workout. Is that whole deal emphatic enough for you? Yeah. Sorry. No little sneaky. Sneaky’s no GD cheese in there.
Alright. Lee riding in from Manchester, England, United Kingdom. He wants me to keep up my impersonations and accents. Can you believe people egging me on with this stuff and I would be bowled over if one of your shows you could try a UK Manchester accent as this is where I’m from. And I remember spending a little time in Manchester and they called it Manchester, Manchester. Welcome to Manchester. We’re so happy to have the triathletes from around the world gather here for the world championships in the year 1990 and three. And so I do have a bit of Manchester accent that I can throw down to please Lee. And who knows how many others, countless others listening, looking for something unique, interesting, and off the wall when they’re consuming podcasts. content,
You’ve come to the right place. Get over yourself, Brad. Okay, here we are. I am, I’m trying. Uh, and Lee also says that he’s a long time devotee of uh, Mark and my work, the Primal Blueprint, the Primal Endurance. Um, we’re combining the science and the practicality of Keto. Very much appreciated, uh, especially the MAF strategies, maximum aerobic function, which I just talked about at length on the first question. And then he says, Hey, you know, try the accent and also good job to Manchester city. One of the greatest upsets in the history of sports for those of you are not aware of English premier league and the long odds of the lads from Manchester city. It was just an extraordinary thing is a few years ago now, but he was still keen in the memory of all the citizens of Manchester.
Okay. Now here comes a 61 year old orthopedic trauma surgeon, a bad-ass from Colorado. He likes hockey, speed skating in his background and now he likes to Nordic ski as a low key masters racer. So they go 10 to 25 kilometers. Also skiing with his kids who were quite good. I’m not going to stop that. I love being fit outdoors and at high altitude I’ve adopted the Maffetone or the current approach, subscribed to the websites, buying into all that stuff and I trained pretty polarized. That’s a compliment, right? If you’ve not heard that term, people? Polarize means you’re either going really easy like I described for an aerobic session or you’re going really hard and explosive and that’s the message of the Primal Blueprint, the ancestral living, the ancestral fitness patterns of either sprinting for your life, lifting heavy rocks, building shelter, or walking around gathering and going, doing a lot of low intensity, general everyday movement. So that’s what our genes expect and that’s what promotes optimal human health.
Meanwhile, we have so many modern day fitness enthusiast performing right in that black hole that no man’s land where they’re going pretty hard. Or Dave Scott triathlon legend on my podcast with him called it quote kind of hard and kind of hard as a bad deal because it promotes a chronic overproduction of the stress hormones to do these kind of hard workouts day after day or several days a week. The CrossFit community, I love you all. Peace out, but you guys are extremely guilty as a blanket statement of going into that gym too frequently, too many days a week and doing stuff that’s kind of hard and definitely kind of too long in duration. A 10 or 12 or 15 minute kind of hard session is great stuff. That’s micro workouts. That’s a huge explosion in the fitness scene. A wonderful uh, transformation of dated and flawed training topics where we have these micro workouts where we can throw in throughout the day mini bursts of explosive effort that promote fitness. They don’t tire you out, they break up long periods of stillness when you’re sitting at your desk all day. Wonderful strategy because a one minute effort on the pull up bar or when I’m throwing the garbage way and pass by my, uh, hexagonal deadlift bar and do one set, maybe two, that stuff ain’t going to tire me out. It’s not going to fry me. But if you add it up over 365 days time,
Oh my gosh, a phenomenal difference from doing nothing but sitting on your butt all day and then going to the gym and doing a proper hour long workout. Even if you go to the gym every day and pound for an hour, that’s seven days a week, seven hours a week, how many total hours in a week? 168. So all that downtime, that stillness, that sedentary time is going to compromise your health even if you are devoted to do the hard stuff for an hour every single day. It’s arguably much better to engage in these micro workouts, uh, do more frequent everyday movement and not prioritize so much these extremely stressful, uh, trips to the gym. Uh, so again, back to the question, the polarized training, I was just defining that for you. So he either does low intensity cardio or he does sprints and sports specific intervals. Okay, here’s the deal. This is of interest to many, many people. So here’s a guy who’s very athletic, uh, enthusiastic; training correctly in that polarized manner where he’s keeping it low intensity or he’s hitting it hard. Whenever I try the low carb approach, I feel poorly. I’ve tried on and off for eight years. The results are clearly negative. As an MD and research scientist, I have a tough time accepting some of the claims made for low carbs sports training.
The literature and data that is quoted is not especially strong. My question is, as a coach and resource for endurance athletes, do you actually know any competitive Nordic skiers who have benefited from a low carb diet? And if you found that some athletes do better with nonprocessed food, higher carb diet than others? All right, Wade Smith. Nice. Nice question. And boy, you put the pressure on me, right? Whatever I say people are counting on as a coach and resource for endurance athletes. Let’s hear the answer. I think you’ve discovered the individualized approach is trumping anything that you’re going to get from a book, a yapper on a podcast, an expert, or even watching what the world class athletes are doing. So you’ve tried on and off for eight years and have a negative approach, a negative result from cutting those carbs back. That’s got to stand for more than a bookshelf full of books right ?
Now. Uh, we’re going to unwind this a little further. Uh, and the first thing that comes to mind is, um, the polarized approach is that being executed correctly, because you’re talking about being at high altitude, you’re talking about skiing with your kids who are good athletes, and you’re talking about racing as a master. So there’s no such thing as a low key masters racer because if you’re on the starting line, that’s pretty high key. And you’re also a high performing individual orthopedic trauma surgeon. So not a couch potato. Right? Um, and so there is that question. Is this being executed correctly at the proper heart rates or because it’s so easy at altitude doing the extremely difficult sport of Nordic skiing, it’s so easy to routinely exceed that maximum aerobic heart rate to the extent that you are conducting a carbohydrate burning workouts or glucose burning dominant workouts over and over again for hours and hours a week, which come with a requisite need to consume a lot of dietary carbohydrates and extremely difficult to sustain on a low carbohydrate diet.
So I’m just going to throw that out there as a challenge and if the individual is nodding his head saying, Oh yeah, I am definitely watching my heart rate and I’m going really slow, that’s great. But for most of us and for all the listeners to reflect upon is that you’re doing a good job, uh, conducting these fat burning workouts rather than drifting into glucose burning. So there’s a huge difference there. And if you’re doing a lot of glucose burning workouts and consuming a lot of carbs, then you stand to gain from slowing down the pace of your workouts. This is the essence of the entire Primal Endurance approach. The book, the digital course, all that stuff is that slowing down will help you go faster, be healthier, and then have more success. Uh, especially with removing the refined carbohydrates that have no place in anyone’s diet.
The nutrient deficient refined carbohydrates, the gels, the bars, the drinks, uh, slamming down sugar in the name of athletic performance. So when we’re talking about what amount of carbs are gonna work for you, we will assume that any carbs that you’re consuming are colorful, nutrient dense carbs that bring you more value than just, uh, throwing sugar into your body. Remember that most carbohydrates when you consume them, they’re pretty quickly converted into glucose. So for the purposes of, uh, optimizing daily carbohydrate intake levels, average carbohydrate intake levels, uh, putting the nutritional benefits or consequences aside for a moment. Uh, most carbs are a carb is a carb in this sense, if you know what I’m talking about. Okay. So we’re trying to optimize your carb intake, knowing that they’re going to be all nutritious carbs and especially for an athlete. Uh, the idea of consuming a nutrient deficient inflammatory, uh, carb like a, a sugar product, um, it’s not going to, it’s not going to pay off in any way.
Uh, of course you’re going to have less penalty if you’re sucking down something right after a workout. So there’s a little bit of a free pass as Dr Cate Shanahan says, when the glycogen suitcases are open, any carbs will go right in there and refill glycogen, even sugar. So beyond that, we want to look for a nutritional benefits with our carbs. And there are, you know, a good number of high performing endurance and ultra endurance athletes performing very well on low carbohydrate diet. I think Zach Bitter is one of the guys that you mentioned. We hear a lot about, he’s got his podcast with carnivore expert, Dr. Sean Baker. It’s called Human Performance Outliers. And this is a guy who set the American record for a hundred mile run on a running track, running it in 11 hours and 45 minutes and extremely impressive ultra endurance performance.
And he’s largely fueled in his everyday diet by a carnivoreish pattern with minimal carbohydrate intake. Uh, when he’s competing, he’s throwing in more cars because he’s competing at a high level and running pretty fast. And so need some stuff to, um, to fuel that furnace while he’s moving along at six minute mile pace all day long or whatever. Um, so, uh, Timothy Allston is a guy who won the Western States a hundred mile run back to back. And he is also noted for eating in a paleo style pattern where he’s, you know, cutting out almost all the refined carbs and more, more of a low carbohydrate, high fat pattern. So yeah, people are succeeding, uh, at different levels. A lot of recreational enthusiasts have written in, uh, and you know, connected with the, um, Maffetone community, the Primal Endurance community. So people are doing well, especially when they remove those refined carbohydrates.
But beyond that, um, you know, personal experience, seeing what works for you and one amazing breakthrough insight that I’ve come up with recently for myself that will change the world when I can communicate it and you can share this clip with others is guess what? Go by your freaking appetite. It’s as simple as that. And it’s been a wonderful revelation for me when you’re trying to optimize carbohydrate intake and you’re sitting around twiddling your thumbs and you’re thinking of having a sweet potato. That is a profound insight from deep in your body’s wisdom. That may be your, uh, maybe it’s a good day to increase your carbohydrate intake. Uh, this also, uh, occurs with me, uh, on the subject of popcorn. So I will have a strong desire for a big bowl of popcorn, uh, in conjunction with performing some impressive, uh, workouts, whether high intensity or long duration endurance workouts.
And that just is going with the flow baby. And I think it really is something that’s important to respect and prioritize up there. High on the top five list of, uh, decision making parameters for optimizing carbohydrate intake. So how does that sound? Uh, and on days when I’m not that active, uh, I have little to no need for, uh, carbs or even food. I can easily fast until two or three or 4:00 PM I’m making a making for a 20 hour fast. If I want to brag about it or post on social media, I can do a 24 hour fast, but I don’t really feel like pairing a 24 hour fast with a high intensity, uh, difficult high jump training session in the morning. In fact, I might even come home and throw a bunch of stuff into a smoothie to help accelerate my coverage right away, uh, including, uh, a measurable amount of carbohydrates. So, uh, that going with the flow and being a little bit more intuitive I think is really gonna be the key in the future to, uh, unwind and sort through all this faction building and this controversy and this deep dive into the internet where you’re hearing different things from different people and becoming confused.
But finally, as I close the show, as well as the answer to this great question. Um, we also have to put into the mix the, the, the question of the day is, are you carrying excess body fat or not? So if you’re an athletic person who’s performing, who’s competing, who’s keeping up with your kids on those workouts, on the Nordic skis and you don’t have any excess body fat, you have a whole different set of decision making parameters from someone who is struggling and frustrated that they have an extra five or eight or 10 or 20 pounds packed on there despite devoted efforts to dietary restriction and to performing the requisite workouts, keeping active and doing everything they can do to try to drop that excess body fat.
So if you’re still carrying excess body fat, especially as a fitness enthusiast, as an athlete, the most direct path to getting that off you is to minimize dietary insulin production. It’s really as simple as that. Just finished a great book by Dr Jason Fung called The Obesity Code, one of the world’s leading experts on uh, using diet to cure the problem of obesity and type two diabetes. And he cites extensive research and makes a really clear case for the idea that it’s not about caloric intake nor caloric expenditure, but it’s simply about the level of insulin you produce in your diet. And the way to lower your average insulin production is through fasting and getting good at extended fast. And then of course through uh, eliminating the refined carbohydrates that spike insulin and then, uh, consuming overall lower amounts of dietary carbohydrates if you’re interested in reducing excess body fat.
And if you’re not, then you’re trying to transition over into the athletic path where you’re going to find out what works best for you for performance and recovery. So that’s where we have a little bit of a distinction and it’s important to recognize that where we’re starting our starting point.
All right? Oh boy. What a wonderful quick moving fast moving show. Have only a few questions but great points for everyone to reflect upon. Keep ’em come in, send your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. I know you only have to type it once, but you can do it. Type it out, send us an email, we answer all of them. We appreciate them so much. Even if you’re pitching me on something and found, found that email address somehow. Uh, anyway, uh, love to hear from you and also love your support in, uh, spreading the information about this show to other people that you think might benefit from.
And I’m using this great, uh, uh, app called Overcast to listen to my podcasts. I think it’s superior to the Apple platform, which, uh, where most people consume their podcasts because I can, uh, make play lists and sort through the shows really easily. Uh, you can also choose your speed from 1.0 all the way up to two plus and you can put little uh, gradients. So I’m going 1.7, 1.8, 1.5, 1.6, whatever I want, man. And the coolest thing is on one button you can push and create a clip of what you’re listening to, uh, at the time. And you can stretch the soundbar so you can customize your clip to make an a minute long or two minutes long. And then take that clip and in another push of a button, text it to a friend and saying, listen to this guy yapping, does he know what he’s talking about or not? And that is a lot of fun and a great way to expose the show to others. So if you want to check out a new podcast app called Overcast, maybe some of the other apps do the same. But I love sharing clips and short bits of information that will draw people in to hopefully listen to let’s say the whole show. Yeah, and that is the whole show. Yo. Thank you. Bye.
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