Biohacking holiday weight gain

What should you eat before the big feast?  (hint: eggs.)  And don’t try to compensate in advance by eating less, this will only make you hungrier.  Furthermore, foods in your regular diet are probably healthier than holiday fare, so you definitely don’t want to eat fewer healthy foods to make room for empty calories.

Tip 1. 

Variation in the effects of three different breakfast meals on subjective satiety and subsequent intake of energy at lunch and evening meal (Fallaize et al., 2012)

Participants were served only one of these for breakfast:

And given unlimited amounts of these for lunch and dinner:

At breakfast, everyone ate different foods but the same number of calories (by design).  After lunch and dinner, everyone ate the same foods but as much as they wanted (“ad libitum”)… how much you ask?

Eggs FTW.  N.B. this was a three-way crossover.

Why did they eat less?  Was it the higher protein? lower carbs?  Some studies suggest high protein is better than low protein (eg, Douglas et al., 2013); another showed eggs were better than bagels (Ratliff et al., 2010); and yet another suggested more bacon (Meinert et al., 2012).  or prunes (Farajian et al., 2010)?  You be the judge.

Tip 2.  Miscellaneous

This might be one of the only times when such tricks like drinking a lot of water and taking a fiber supplement prior to the meal could help make you feel fuller faster.  Those techniques don’t do much for weight loss in the long run, but might help transiently curb overconsumption.

Tip 3.  Exercise

Exercising before dinner might favor shuttling of the excess nutrients toward oxidation (eg, Bennard and Doucet, 2006; Aoi et al., 2012).  It might even make you eat less (eg, Jokisch et al., 2012; Martins et al., 2007)… or not (eg, King et al., 2012; King et al., 2010).

IMHO, in general, eating prior to exercise is more beneficial than after*.  But when it comes to a big meal, exercising after also has some benefits.  For example, one study showed it blunted the rise in blood glucose and insulin, which bodes favorably for body composition (Hashimoto et al., 2012).  Another study showed exercising after breakfast resulted in slightly greater food intake during lunch, but not enough to make up for the energy deficit: exercisers burned 300 more kcal but only ate 150 more (Martins et al., 2007).  Admittedly however, I don’t think that energy balance differential is very meaningful; participants in the Martins study had a negative energy balance of 150 kcal; if your slice of cake was infinitesimally bigger than another, then that difference will be cancelled out.

which one has more calories?

My advice: don’t give those extra calories the time to be deposited into fat tissue; exercise after dinner.  Have a cuppa and help clean up.  Go for a walk.  You don’t have to exercise but you have to get off your ass.


calories proper

*edit: Nutrient timing, Op. 101 <– more reasons to exercise after eating

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  • pingping

    About Tip2, you said ” Those techniques don’t do much for weight loss in the long run, but might help transiently curb overconsumption.” I kind of know the answer from your book (the poor misunderstood calories). The stomach will be bigger than ususal. right? My question is that how quick does the stomach respond? Is there a period for the stomach before the adjustment (a few hours, or days)? not sure if I make my question clear?

    • William Lagakos

      Your question is clear, but I don’t know the exact answer. Stomach volume could increase (months/years?), or you might just start eating more frequently (days/weeks?). The point is that those techniques are ineffective in the long run, or else we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic. Hope this helps!


      • pingping

        Thanks, it helps.

  • Miodrag Mili?

    Exercise after eating doesn’t sound good to me. Of course, if you count walking or moving around, then its OK, but any more serious exercise with full stomach…. I don’t know… what happened with reset & digest ? Idea of jumping around with full stomach doesn’t sound appealing.

    About “transient carb overconsumption” problem, I have something that troubles me, I hope you could provide some insight about it (or ideally whole post). If the one is low carb during the most parts of the week or month and then you suddenly overcarb yourself could it produce in some sense more damage then being moderate carb all the time?

    We know that body downregulates insulin production on LC – this is evident from positive OGTT tests after long LC without preparation (gradual carb introducing few days before the test), and its also common sense (i.e. you don’t use it, you lose it). On the other hand, since carbs are low, certain level of some carb enzymes may be overproduced to compensate for lower availability (and/or glucose receptors). Now, when you stuff yourself with carbs in that setup, you are producing intensive hyperglicemia that, since your current insulin production will not be enough to cover it, will last for longer. More damage follows: cells starve for vitamin C (competition with glucose) -> prone to infections.

    More agile exercise, will correct this, but I guess before the meal is better idea – you have that non-insulin dependent GLUT upregulation on muscle anyway so when sugar kicks in your muscles will be prepared in advance to suck it up. You will also not slow up digestion by redirecting blood flow from stomach to muscle. Keeping food longer in the stomach is not good idea.

    • William Lagakos

      And a carb-up during LC shouldn’t be too detrimental – it’ll take a little longer to clean up the glucose, but nothing like pathological chronic hyperglycemia.

      • Miodrag Mili?

        Is that a common sense or you have some paper to back up that info about non detrimental periodic hyperglicemia ?

        Your recent post about periodic hypoglicemia was clearly different for instance … what makes u so sure that the similar thing doesn’t happen on the opposite side ?

        • William Lagakos

          That’s a good point Miodrag. I was thinking that periodic hyperglycemia was simply not as bad as chronic hyperglycemia. In other words, I think a
          ketogenic or low carb dieter who eats cake once a month will be healthier than a type II diabetic who has high blood glucose all the time. (it’s a much easier comparison than the one you’re getting at, which I believe is between a healthy high carber vs. a healthy low carber.)

          • Miodrag Mili?

            Ok, but that was not the question. Chronic hyperglicemia is definitive no.

            However, we need to start talking about levels.

            Consider this: is 75 < CHO < 120g per day with occasional CHO~200 better then 20< CHO < 50 with occasional CHO~200. Both CHO intakes will not produce hyperglicemia in non-diabetic folks but transient hyperglicemia after binge will be longer in second folks. Consider constant CHO < 25 as per usual in hard core Atkins init and then sudden surge…

            There is also that level that will not let brain adapt to low carb diet (taken from Art & Science of LC) which they claim to be around 75g AFAIK – to high for meaningful ketosis but to low for brain adaptation….

            This is very important IMO. Perhaps its better to stick with the constant range and gradually switch to higher carb input on occasions… then return back …

            I am even open minded to some other explanations, like hormetic effect of periodic CHO binge.

          • William Lagakos

            just as i suspected: you’re talking about a much more complicated scenario metabolically speaking.

  • Jonathan Roseland

    Here’s infographics I hope you’ll find useful on Biohacking – 7 high leverage options to get started and the time commitment for effective Biohacking activities. For further explanation:

  • maria

    Hi. I know this is off-topic but can you please give me your insight on the Autoimmune Protocol? I have Hashimoto’s, and raynauds. I am still not sure what’s the best diet to follow for someone with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I am already eating a paleo diet, more like PHD (rice and potatoes – 100g a day carbs) and trying to incorporate intermitting fasting and an 8h feeding window. I read other opinions on how people with thyroid issues shouldn’t do intermitting fasting so I’m confused. On a side note I used to be hypoglycemic, I believe my thyroid issues are somehow involved. A protein based breakfast helped alot.
    If you could give me your opinion on the AIP , and when its best to eat carbs, feeding windows, IF, etc I would appreciate it. I find your knowledge trustworthy and I respect and value your work.