Diet Recovery 2 and the “Turn Up the Heat” Experiment

In the past year, I’ve become a fan of Matt Stone at 180DegreeHealth. We agree on many things. The two primary things are we both see the neurotic approach to food and exercise as being unhealthy. My primary health interest is to find sustainable ways to become more resilient in a stressful toxic world. What interested me about Diet Recovery 2 is it provides a plan for boosting health by fixing metabolism issues.

Diet Recovery 2: Restoring Mind and Metabolism from Dieting, Weight Loss, Exercise, and Healthy Food
Diet Recovery 2: Restoring Mind and Metabolism from Dieting, Weight Loss, Exercise, and Healthy Food by Matt Stone

Optimizing Metabolism

When we think about diets and eating healthy, we focus on good foods versus bad foods. We try and measure calories or carbs or whatever is in fad at the time. Then we try and quantify our exercise with pedometers and heart rate monitors. And we may get results, especially in the short term, but over time it often becomes unsustainable, which results in a high long-term failure rate. What you will learn in the book is that caloric restriction and excessive exercise can lower metabolism.

If you think about this, it makes perfect sense. The body is only interested in survival. If the signals being sent are less food and more activity for extended periods of time, the body will mount a defense. Up until I was exposed to Matt’s work, I knew of a few of those defenses. The first being increased hunger. Followed by increased exhaustion and finally increased the risk of illness or injury. In Diet Recovery 2, Matt explains how a stressed body will often have a reduced body temperature.

I don’t have a health background, but this makes total sense to me. The body is a complex system. Calories feed total metabolism. Total metabolism is base plus activity. By increasing activity or restricting calories for long periods, the body responds to that threat by lowering base metabolism. Diet Recovery 2 takes the opposite approach of other health books. It focuses on ways to increase metabolism measured by body temperature. Increasing your body temperature by a degree every minute of every hour will yield greater benefits than focusing on the calories plus activity side of the equation.

What Wrecks Metabolism?

In Diet Recovery 2 we learn a few things that can cause metabolism to drop.

  1. Calorie restriction, especially yo-yo dieting.
  2. Excessive exercise, especially chronic cardio.
  3. Poor or insufficient sleep.
  4. Long term low carbohydrate dieting.
  5. Consuming too many liquids or cooling foods.
  6. Too many PUFAs (Polyunsaturated fatty acids)

Since the items on the list are the ones that wreck metabolism, the opposite is advised to help the repair. Eat more calories. Get off the treadmill. Sleep more. Stop fearing carbs. Quit drinking so many beverages, especially water. And embrace saturated fats over PUFA. The book goes into greater detail and explanations.

Following this advice, you are very likely to gain weight at first, but that is OK. Think of the leaky boat analogy. Yes, you can paddle it real hard and hope you’ll get across the lake or you can be patient, make the repairs, and then make the journey safer and with less effort.

Is Diet Recovery 2 For Me?

When I was first exposed to the body temperature theory of metabolism, I wasn’t sure it applied to me. I’m very temperature resilient. I can take ice cold showers or do a 10 hour urban hike through the hot and humid streets of Bangkok, Thailand. I’m fine with both. However, ever since the 10th grade, I’ve had cold hands and toes. I’ve always assumed it was a circulation problem I developed from one brutal Ohio winter, but I’ve been donating blood every 8 weeks for 2 years now. My body temperature always falls in the 97.0 – 97.5 range. Maybe my metabolism could use a boost?

When I look at the list above, the two items I have been guilty of is drinking too many beverages and consuming too many PUFAs. I’ve never counted calories or carbs and think cardio is a mental illness. However, my entire adult life up until around 2009, I would drink water or coffee all day long. Then I watched Art De Vany’s Evolutionary Fitness lecture and he made a great case for drinking less water. Since then I have cut back on the water. One of the symptoms of overhydration mentioned in Diet Recovery 2 is dry skin. I can attest when I cut back on the water, my dry patches of skin went away. As for the PUFAs, I’m years into rejecting seed oils, but until very recently was consuming sunflower seeds and almonds regularly.

Another symptom of excess water consumption mention in the book is headaches. This is where I learned about hyponatremia, which is having low salt levels, often caused by excessive beverage intake. Headaches are a common symptom of hyponatremia.

The “Turn Up The Heat” Experiment

I’m not convinced that I can raise my body temperature or that if I can that I will feel noticeably better, however it does make a lot of sense to me. My background is in tech. I recall one project where my team was looking for ways to increase the speed of the application. We could optimize the database tables, rewrite queries, run some reports during off-hours, or a host of other labor-intensive strategies. My project manager had a better idea. He bought a faster server. He threw more heat at the problem and it went away instantly.

I’m ready to give the Diet Recovery 2 protocol a try. Even though I drink far less water than I used to, I could probably still cut back more. I also need to figure out ways to consume more salt. I’m plenty fine on sugar. I’ve begun tracking my body temperature already and I’ve already got two years’ worth of headache data.

The “Turn Up the Heat” Experiment has started.


Add yours

  1. I’ve been following 180degreehealth for a few months now and am 2 months in to his 3 month metabolism recovery protocol. I’ve put on a little bit of fat, but also muscle from the increased calories. So far I’ve been encouraged with the results. I’m interested to hear your results with this experiment.

  2. charles grashow

    Mar 8, 2013 — 12:53 pm

    “ever since the 10th grade I’ve had cold hands and toes”

    Have you had a complete thyroid panel done?

  3. @Charles – No I haven’t. I don’t have the other classic symptoms, so it hasn’t cross my radar.

  4. @Charles – I have been taking a sea kelp supplement for a while.

    I should also note that my hands and feet are only cold when the room or outdoor conditions are cold (maybe below 65 F).

  5. I think you should run an experiment to see if you experiment too much 😉

  6. @Aaron – Maybe, but I haven’t had a serious test since my October without coffee.

  7. Michael, some personal observations from someone who has been doing the eat for heat thing for a little while now:

    I find I can load up the salt on meat more than any other food. It takes a surprising amount for it to become too salty. Give it a try.

    I also find you can add a fair bit to a cheese & potato bake. Tastes magnificent and so easy to make. Incredibly warming too. On the occasions when I track my temps, this dish is a big winner. I see about .4 – .5 deg celcius jump an hour post meal and it holds for a while.

    It may take a while to increase temps or you may see faster or no change. Who knows, everyone is different. My own progress has been slow but steady over several months after reading the original diet recovery. Coming from a history of running for a few years (I quit 2 years ago), and having resting heart rates of around 46 and as low as 40 some mornings even well before I took up running, my heart rate is now up to about 55-60 in the morning, and morning temps have improved from about 35.9 to 36.2. Still a way to go before I reach 37 (98.6F), but during the day I get close, where I could hardly get above 36 when I first started measuring (apologies for celcius, I know you’re from the states but I’m typing this on an iPad and can’t be bothered switching to calculator 🙂

    The biggest changes I’ve noticed are I am MUCH calmer in general. And by far the most important influence on temps and overall stress levels ive found is sleep length and quality. Not an earth shattering revelation I know, but I was surprised that its even more important that I previously thought, and I’ve always been a big fan of sleep. Really makes a big difference the entire day. And to complete the circle, on days i keep my liquid intake lower by really paying attention to if I am actually thirsty instead of drinking liquids out of habit (I loves me some milk), it dramatically improves my sleep quality. I wake up less often, and when i do i get back to sleep much quicker.

    How’s that for a positive feedback loop…

  8. @Brian – These are excellent tips. Thank you very much. I am working on a post for next week where I list ideas on how I am going to approach the experiment.

    You comment about being warmer makes you more calm. I wondered if the reverse is also true. Can becoming calmer make one warmer? Seems that meditation can increase body temps.

    Fascinating stuff. I’m looking forward to this experiment.

  9. I imagine the reverse would also be true. Given that temperature / health is all indelibly linked with stress and the stress response, I think meditation would also be a benefit to increasing temps (though the ultimate goal is health, not temperature, it’s a good marker to keep an eye on).

    Stress is unavoidable. It’s how you respond to it that matters.

    I don’t know if the increase in temperature is the cause or effect for being calmer, or if you can even separate the two. It has definitely come about from eating to satiety whenever I am hungry, and letting go of all the worry over whether I was eating the best possible diet (I was definitely into paleo / wapf for a while).

  10. Matt Stone recommends whole grains – specifically brown rice/quinoa etc as opposed to white rice here

    What’s your take on this??

  11. @Cartman – News to me. Thanks for the link. I’ll read the 64 page file later.

  12. This may sound gross, but I tend to mix a teaspoon of high-quality sea salt into my morning green tea. Even just the plain water with the salt seems to wake me up quite effectively, suggesting to me that it probably results in some good endocrine signals.

    Last night’s dinner was a rich ham-hock and salmon soup full of coconut milk and kelp. I dutifully answered the heavy sleepiness that soon followed and awoke this morning from the best sleep I’ve had in weeks. Perhaps this qualifies as eating for heat, I’ve only skimmed.

  13. @Erik – I like the idea of drinking salt. I am thinking beef bone broth might work as well, especially with some melted butter.

  14. Oneskinnycookie

    Mar 12, 2013 — 1:32 pm

    I have read a few of Matt’s books, although I haven’t followed his protocol, I do follow many of Ray Peat’s protocols, which I know Matt has talked about a lot on his site. In fact Ray Peat deals extensively with metabolic health. Anyway, Even after following Ray Peat dietary recommendations for a couple days my temperature gets up to 99.1 or 99.2. (I don’t always follow his recommendations exclusively, but when I do, I see my temp change quickly).

  15. @Oneskinnycookie – How much of a jump is it for you to get to 99.1? What was your average temp before? Also, what have you found works the best? Any particular food or tip? Thanks.

  16. Broth might work well but might also have a different effect due to the proteins. Usually makes me a little sleepy, personally, but ymmv. Broth before bed, though, is great.

  17. Oneskinnycookie

    Mar 13, 2013 — 9:31 am

    When I first started Ray Peats recommendations my temp was around 97.6-98.1. Now it is usually 98.6-98.7, when I really follow the protocol though it quickly goes up into the low 90’s. Well three things stand out to me, one is not going without food for too long of a period. I try to eat every three hours. Second, I try to eat around a ratio of 50-25-25 for carbs,protein and fat. I also up my fruit intake. I didn’t use to eat very much fruit (i was afraid of the sugar content). Also worth noting is more bone broths or gelatin and coconut oil.

  18. Oneskinnycookie

    Mar 13, 2013 — 9:32 am

    Oh and I eat more calories. I realize I wasn’t eating enough for my bodies needs.

  19. Wish I Were Riding

    Mar 25, 2013 — 9:43 am

    I assume caloric restriction is not the same as Intermittent Fasting correct?

  20. @Wish – What I read from an interview with Matt was that 12 hours is the ideal fasting window. Going longer would likely be bad for metabolism.

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