The fitness industry is quite unique in relation to the way someone can build a stellar reputation with little in the way of evidence to support that halo which seems to follow them around. Post a few fancy social media posts linked to a few studies and bam, you are the next ‘’Doctor’’ of the fitness industry. Phil Learney on the other hand optimises what the term ‘’expert’’ really means and is in my eyes one of the very best in the world at what he does bar none. Phil is a leading authority on nutrition and training and I would suggest he has probably forgotten more than most ‘’experts’’ have ever known. If I had to list 3 of the best coaches in the industry Phil would be in there along with Nick Mitchell, 3rd spot would still be up for grabs!!
This isn’t the first time I have interviewed Phil, so why again, why now? Last weekend I had the pleasure of sitting in on one of Phil’s seminars. Just before 2pm me and my training partner waded through the crowds of the NEC to make it to the seminar, there was nowhere to sit though – that’s the kind of interest which surrounds Phil’s work. The next 60 minutes was an education for every individual in the room, including myself – even where I could say I ‘’knew that’’ the way Phil put it across really crystallised WHY I ‘’knew’’ that. Long story short it inspired me to reach out to one of the few men I really look up to in the industry today and pick his brains on a few choice subjects. Fortunately, Phil gladly obliged.
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Below are the questions I fired across to Phil take a moment to absorb what his response tells you – there is a LOT for you to learn here.
Why are carbohydrates more of a concern over protein/fat for insulin health purposes? Are certain proteins not as ''insulinogenic?''
Certain proteins are indeed insulinogenic in that they create a raise in insulin in anticipation of it having a role. This doesn’t override the fact that carbs will be the major determinant in 'muscle fuel' and insulin is merely the carrier into tissue. If someone has poor insulin management or resistance the insulin response is either inadequate or simply cannot 'carry' the glycogen into tissue.
Does the GI of carbohydrates matter?
Only really if carbs are eaten independently and only if moving away in many respects from natural food. It would be of concern if purely blood sugar management was the goal but very few people want that without a change in physique.
Do you believe as long as fibre requirements are hit any carbs within prescribed macros are fine?
Depends, fibres don't determine the reaction, this is where the term 'net carbs' was coined and was a way to market foods as low 'net carbs' as you would subtract the fibre from the total. You're still taking in carbs. Each gram of carbs requires a certain amount of insulin to be utilised. Fibre doesn’t change this only the absorption rate.
Why is something loaded with fructose corn syrup worse than sweet potato even if the carb content is the same?
Fructose corn syrup is only processed in the liver so can create liver overload and is frankly a poor fuel source. It also renders the hypothalamus resistant to the hunger hormone Leptin that would tell you when to stop eating. Furthermore it also interferes with its path across the blood brain barrier. Pack this stuff in food, people eat more. Simple business.
Why would you recommend eating regularly, even if same food consumption for the day is met?
Protein synthesis, protein turnover, nitrogen retention, digestive turnover and insulin management to name a few.
Why is carb timing relevant/important to insulin?
It is all about stabilising blood sugar; if you create a void or drop in blood sugar a rapid rise followed by a more stable and slower absorbing carb will set everything back into sync.
Why is a high fat/protein breakfast the best start to the day?
A high carbohydrate breakfast can blunt the switching off of melatonin which will induce a sleepy state in many people. A high protein and fat breakfast will not only improve neural function but also decrease ghrelin concentrations which is the other important 'hunger' hormone.
What would you say about those who get sub 10% with IIFYM (if it fits your macros) and say anyone can do it?
It's case specific and if you put everyone out there on a macro orientated plan and say just tick the boxes it unfortunately won't work. It's like me telling everyone out there they can run a sub 10s hundred metres if we train hard enough. The human body is far more complex than that and both geno and phenotype play a large factor.
Why are statements like a ''carb is a carb'' ''fat is fat ''protein is protein'' calorie is a calorie'' so wrong?
It's like saying a car is a car. It does more than just get you from A to B. Each type of carb, protein and fat has a role and you can break carbs down into sub divisions of sugars, proteins into amino acids and fats into the type of triglyceride they are. Saying they're the same is foolish.
I am of the opinion that someone who is technically in a calorie deficit who has ridiculed their hormone levels could still potentially gain fat in a ''deficit'' if their diet was predominately sugar. What are your thoughts on this?
I believe it too. You mess up someone’s beta cells (our insulin manager) up enough and put them on 800cals of carbs they:
a) Can't absorb the carbs therefore the body will store them if they're not used
b) If someone is in deficit at some stage they won’t be and when that time comes the body is in a mass of panic and preservation. They're unlikely to eat good food at this stage as blood sugar is chronically low
c) The body loses lean mass (which burns calories) therefore metabolic rate slows to accommodate
d) Testosterone levels, thyroid levels lower, leptin become resistant to cells and ghrelin rises to signify hunger.
e) I could list a LOT more but you get the idea......
It's pretty simple really but people will still say it's impossible.
That concludes the list of questions I came up with for Phil. May I recommend you follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/phillearney!!