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‘’Detox’’ your way back to the gym after holidays 

This is not new, the period following the Holiday season is not only the busiest in the gym but also the one where the coaches are back to service in force and where demand is higher than ever in the year. 

As regular folks in the gym, we sometimes take a break during the Holidays to give our loved ones more time. With this often comes a lot less physical activity, a lot more calories and foods rich in fat and sugar, completely offset sleep habits and often more alcohol than usual. 

There’s a time when good habits must return. The problems with returning to the gym are: 

  1. You feel sluggish and weak, soft and flat
  2. You want so much results so fast that you start on aViking program that defies all laws of recovery 
  3. Your condition islamentable, and you lack sleep, you find yourself unable to complete that Viking program 
  4. Mentally, you miss that edge and mental clarity that helps you focusedon the task to accomplish 
  5. Your digestion is severely upset, you feel bloated and tired all the time
  6. You come back home feeling sluggish and weak, soft and flat

While everybody is buying crappy detox shit juices and supplements, here’s a really great way to get yourself out of this situation BEFORE starting the greatest come back of all time! 

Tips #1 – You’ve been feasting a lot, why not fast a little. 

One of the best ways I found within years of experimenting with myself and clients is the fasting solution. I have found no other way to get your digestive system back on track this quickly. It also helps you to gain back insulin sensitivity which is often lost during the Holiday season due to crappy food and sugar and high refined carbs and fat.  

Isn’t fasting a kind of starvation? Yes & no. Starvation isn’t necessarily voluntary. Fasting is an absence of food under control and for a limited time. There are numerous ways to fast, from few hours to days, even weeks for the most aggressive approach.  

Starting with fasting will also help to regain body composition quicker because of the natural calories restriction that will occur by eating less but also because over time, your body will switch it’s energy store to favor fat as it’s main energy source making fat loss much easier. 

A lot of people are afraid of fasting, because our society educated us so well to eat 3 meals a day and to never skip breakfast. But from an evolutionary perspective, it’s completely ironic. It’s one of the most powerful tools for our body to heal itself and to reset inflammation markers and insulin sensitivity.  

Here’s what happens to our body when we fast: 

  1. The post-absorptive phase is anywhere between 6-24 hours after beginning fasting. Insulin levels drop down and breakdown of glycogen to make blood glucose is release for energy. The body can store glycogen for around 24 hours or so.
  1. The Gluconeogenesis starts by the 24 hour-ishh mark or when glucose is not enough to supply energy. This process can take place for up to 2 days. The liver will then start a process call ‘’gluconeogenesis’’. In short, producing new glucose from existing amino acids. 
  1. Ketosis will take place 2-3 days after beginning fasting. The low levels of insulin reached during fasting stimulate lipolysis, the breakdown of fat for energy. Fatty acids may be used directly for energy by many tissues in the body, but not the brain.

    But the human body is made for survival and will work new mechanics to allow the brain to function properly by creating ketone bodies produced from fatty acids, capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier to fuel the brain. After four days of fasting, up to 75% of the energy used by the brain is provided by ketones.
  1. While everybody thinks that fasting is bad for muscle, our survival mechanism takes care of preserving our muscles. A process of protein conservation takes place after +/-5 days of fasting. Now levels of growth hormones are sky high and norepinephrine is increased to prevent the decrease in metabolic rate.

It can look crazy to fast for 5 days but remember that the world record holder for fasting is 382 days. So, I think that 5 days is something that can be done.  

While I don’t see a lot of people reaching 5 days of fasting, there are many ways to obtain some of it’s benefits while not fasting that long.  

There are different ways to fast and every method has its benefits. But the longer you fast, the more the reset is efficient. If you wish to start some fasting, here are two of the most user-friendly methods I find to start someone. 

  • Fasting 20 hours / feasting 4 hours 

This method calls for 20 hours of fasting and 4 hours of feeding. A simple way to do it would be to eat from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm and fast for the other 20 hours. It’s something useful for beginners or people who like the mental edge when fasting. Can be done everyday.  

  • 24-hour fasts 

This method is a bit longer and will make you fast for the major part of the day. For example, if your dinner was at 6:00pm, then your next meal will also be at 6:00pm. You are still eating daily, but for only one meal. Some of my client do this 2-3 times a week with really good results and not too much difficulty.  

  • 36-hour fasts 

This involves fasting for the entire day. For example, if you eat dinner on day 1, you would fast for all of day 2 and not eat again until breakfast on day 3. This is generally 36 hours of fasting. This provides more powerful weight loss benefit. The other great benefit is that it avoids the temptation to overeat dinner on day 2. 

Of course, you can try a less aggressive approach and just try to throw out crappy food in exchange of clean food. But because your digestive track is probably upset, chances are it will take a lot more time for your body to get back it’s food repartition system efficiently. Intermittent fasting is the best insulin resistance diet to help your cells respond to insulin. 

Tips #2 – You need to put your brain into an activated state 

Fasting will not only sharpen your mind, it will activate your sympathetic nervous system, which is often the missing link to give yourself a little kick in the butt to put yourself to work. High insulin levels from all the Holiday food will keep you in parasympathetic mode and makes you feel sluggish and unmotivated.

Let’s say you’ve been in this state for a whole week, or maybe two, it can be really hard to come back with an edge and feel ready to work.  

Fasting will quickly give you that edge back because it improves cognitive function, enhances memory performance, growth of neurons and also increases circulating noradrenaline, meaning higher energy and mood.  

Tips #3 – Throw a finger to ‘’detox juice and supplements’’ 

Fasting promotes autophagy, which is a process that will help you get rid of damaged cells, toxins and waste. Don’t buy into that crap marketing of detox juices.  

I mean, do you really have to drink those green mixtures of supra dose of fibers and diuretics herbs to ‘’cleanse’’ your organs? 

Except for making you piss all the fluids inside your body, making you want to vomit and starving yourself, the real detoxifying effect is rather limited. Here’s why: 

The body is in a constant process of detoxification. Organs like the liver, kidneys, colon and skin are ALREADY detoxifying your organism. That’s their job and the way they keep you alive. 

Now is there a way you can help those organs to accomplish their work? Of course, there is. 

Here’s how you can make sure to support healthy organ functions and allow your body to get rid of toxins efficiently. 

1. Get enough micro nutrients 

Everything related to vitamins and minerals. All the chemical and enzymatic processes in your body are achieved by using vitamins and minerals. In the first phase of the detoxifying process, the liver attaches a mineral or a vitamin to a toxin and moves it into phase 2. So, to make sure those processes are completed efficiently, eat plenty of veggies and fruits, and make sure to supplement any deficiency you can have. 

2. Amino acids makes the ‘’flush’’ happen 

Here’s the greatest irony: most detox diets push you to cut meats out of your menu. However, amino acids are in fact the MOST useful substance to get rid of toxins. In the first phase, toxins get attached by a vitamin and mineral, but this new substance is highly toxic and can cause oxidative damage if not pushed out in phase 2, where an amino acid will be attached to this compound to make it water soluble and throw it out of you.  

So, don’t count on juice detoxes and no-protein diets to supply the necessary amino acids to neutralize the toxic compounds produced during Phase 1 detox. Instead, toxic compounds end up recirculating in the blood, making you feel like shit and probably making you sicker than you were. 

3. Are you pooping enough? 

Ask this question to every client (especially female ones) – 1 out of 3 (and I’m being generous) will tell you they are going to poop every 2 days, maybe 3, and sometimes 4. That’s not uncommon. 

So, while she is drinking her kale/cucumber/ginger/carrots/cabbage/curcuma mixed with high sugar fruit juice (yeah but it’s an organic one! It’s written organic sugar on it! This must be freakin’ good for my health!), she is reabsorbing the toxins that were on their way through the GI tract. Want to know why females get estrogen imbalance? 

An enzyme called beta-glucuronidase will cleave estrogen that is on its way out of the body, removing the vitamins and amino acids bound to it, and allowing it to enter the blood stream where it harms cells and DNA.

So, before getting a panic attack because you just ate some soya in your food and claim that you have an estrogen problem and pick up every damn anti-estrogen supplement available on the market (oh and why the hell do females start to take pharmaceutical estrogen inhibitors because they have fat on their glutes and hams…it’s really a first degree reflection, without hurting anybody…) start pooping everyday, at least two times. 

What if you can’t poop? Just take a good look at your lifestyle, your food intake, supplements etc…Lack of dietary fiber impairs elimination and encourages the growth of harmful bacteria in the GI tract. Fiber also counteracts beta-glucuronidase and helps with the detoxification of hormones such as estrogen. So most of the time, an incorrect fiber intake is responsible.

Look at food you don’t tolerate well. Food intolerances trigger the release of proteins that harm the intestinal lining and allow toxins to escape the GI tract and re-enter the bloodstream. That’s the phase 3 of detoxification. 

4. Sweat your life out!

As simple as it is, your skin is an organ, and when you sweat, you are actually pushing toxins out of your system. Working out makes you sweat (if you train more than you talk, of course), sauna, infra red, aerobic exercises, etc….Your skin is an easy way to get rid of toxins out of your body. 

-SA

Stéphane Aubé

Written by Stéphane Aubé

Stéphane Aubé has worked in the fitness industry for more than 12 years. He works as a trainer and advisor for Hungry For Victory, a company he founded which specializes in nutrition and physical development for athletes of all disciplines. He has wo…