Dr. Richard Maurer, ND
Blood Code Fitness Principle #1
We are mistakenly given the message that what we eat provides energy for the next few hours or for some upcoming activity. But in the evolution of our human body, we had to do some activity on an empty stomach to procure the thing we were going to eat. With this in mind, it should be no surprise that we are hormonally wired to use our tissue reserves for any activity and baseline energy. When we eat, our meal is used to repair and replace what was broken down in the prior hours to days.
Are you ready for that? Eating always triggers an anabolic process. After a meal, hormones get secreted that tell your body to save the energy just ingested and rebuild what was broken down. Insulin is the chief anabolic hormone. This is a wildly empowering concept if you pause and think about it. Every day, every workout, every night, you break down a part of yourself—your stored fats and sugars. Your next meal provides the building blocks and the hormonal message to rebuild what you’ve lost.
For the leanest athletes, it’s important to feed your body a protein-rich meal after a vigorous workout, to help repair and replace the necessary muscle and supportive structures before too much catabolism results in muscle loss. But what if you are not functioning at your lowest tolerable body fat percentage? When you fast at least two to three hours prior to exercise, your insulin will be lower, thereby allowing you to effectively burn fats more readily. As you move toward a lower insulin level throughout the day, your body fat and circulating triglycerides will more readily be utilized to provide sustained energy both at exercise and at rest.
Is this like fasting?
Yes, a little. In the 1990s, researchers reported that calorically deprived mice lived longer than their better-fed kin. This headline led to a plethora of speculation and retrospective studies. I saw people in their later years eating like birds in hopes that they might live like the old mice. Intermittent fasting was all the rage. Research now clarifies that the reduction in your circulating insulin level is likely a key mechanism toward an extended life span. Low insulin levels have been associated with people who live for more than ninety years.
Certain type of exercise, like consecutive strenuous circuits (Blood Code Fitness Principle #2), are more effective at lowering your insulin than straight aerobic activity. And approaching the workout on an empty stomach further lowers your insulin level. Your net insulin sensitivity is an important marker in your success toward performance and longevity. As you begin to practice the Fitness Principles on a regular basis, your Blood Code blood test panels should reflect an improvement in your insulin sensitivity. Your HOMA-IR should be as close to 1 as possible, and if it’s lower than 1, that’s good news for now and a long time to come!1,2,3,4
Dr. Richard Maurer is a licensed naturopathic physician who, after practicing in a primary care setting for twenty years, now provides a unique perspective on metabolic health and recovery. Dr. Maurer puts you in the driver’s seat of your health and wellness, helping you decode blood test results to find the diet and fitness habits that reverse and prevent metabolic conditions, such as pre and type 2 diabetes, weight gain and hypothyroid problems. His recent book, The Blood Code: Unlock the secrets of your metabolism , provides the tools to understand and act on key blood tests and skin fold measurements to define your personalized diet, fitness and nutritional needs to recover health and vitality—disease reversal is only the beginning.
His personal and familial trend toward type 2 diabetes motivates him to empower people to recover their metabolic “sweet spot” through proven self-guided diet, nutritional, and fitness habits.
Dr. Maurer is the past president of the Maine Association of Naturopathic Doctors and regularly presents at health and medical conferences such as Weston Price Foundation, American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the popular PaleoF(x). He lives in Maine with his wife Alexandra where they have raised three children.
- Bartke, A. Insulin and aging. Cell Cycle, 2008 Nov 1; 7 (21):3338–43.
- Masternak, M. M., et al. Insulin sensitivity as a key mediator of growth hormone actions on longevity. Journals of Gerontology Ser A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 2009 May; 64(5):516–21.
- Rozing, M. P., et al. Human insulin/IGF-1 and familial longevity at middle age. Aging. 2009Jul 24; 1(8):714–22.
- Wijsman, C. A., et al. Familial longevity is marked by enhanced insulin sensitivity. Aging Cell, 2011 Feb; 10(1):114–21.