Did you know that some people actually sustain fat loss longer when we add their favorite foods into their diet? It’s true, fat loss is a mental thing as much as it is physical. Today, Coach Chris is joined by strength coach Ryan Faehnle. They discuss hunger hormones and some unconventional fat loss tricks. Tune into this episode to find out. 

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 “When we remove restrictions and trickle in people’s favorite foods here and there they actually lose weight faster.” 

-Ryan Faehnle 

Strong By Design Podcast


   https://overcast.fm/itunes1383270948/strong-by-design-podcast  https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/chris-wilson/strong-by-design


Time Stamps:  

3:00 Ryan’s backstory: From fat kid to strength coach 

6:50 Why people gain more weight after a diet 

7:58 The 2 appetite hormones and what they do 

9:40 The issue with rapid weight loss 

12:46 Why you need to stop calling food good or bad 

15:17 Why you shouldn’t cut your favorite food out of your diet 

17:59 Don’t try and stop bad habits, alter them 

Connect with Ryan Faehnle: 

Connect with Critical Bench: 


Chris: [00:00:00] Your body’s hidden hunger hormone that can make fat loss nearly impossible. Coach Chris Wilson interviews Strength Coach Ryan Faehnle. Thank you so much for joining us today. This is Coach Chris Wilson from Criticalbench.com. And I am delighted and I’m not joking. I’m delighted to have with me on the line today. Ryan please if you will. I want to get your last name right. Is it Finley.   

Ryan: [00:00:31] Very close. It’s Faehnle. So like Stanley with an F.  

Chris: [00:00:35] Yeah OK so Faehnle got you.   

Ryan: [00:00:38] It’s German. So there’s a lot of funny letters in there.  

Chris: [00:00:41] OK. All right. Hey it’s cool and it’s unique and know, I’ve never seen that name before ever. So that right away this thing was put on everyone’s. This is Ryan Faehnle on the line with me today. He’s a certified strength and conditioning specialist. But that just scratches the surface. He has trained athletes in different sports at all levels. High school, the professional for over 20 years. He’s worked with NFL Super Bowl champions. As well as just the ordinary Joe average and Susie Q. He’s worked with them all. So that’s the spectrum and he’s traveled the globe. He’s lectured to trainers and to coaches about strength and conditioning and body composition just a bit of everything. But I want him to go a little bit deeper. So first of all welcome Ryan to the call. Very happy to be talking with you today.  

Ryan: [00:01:41] Yeah thanks for having me. I’m excited to dive in. People that know me know that I am extremely passionate about all things; strength, conditioning, health, fitness, nutrition, supplementation. So I’m ready to get into it.  

Chris: [00:01:54] Yeah. And being in your, you know you read your bio and his bio is like I mean I just had like a few sentences. His bio is like two pages. I’m like, he makes me sound as if I’ve never stepped foot in gym and worked with somebody in my life when read your bio. And anyone with that kind of background experience obviously can be intimidating. Of course. But because you make it sound as if the fitness and health world is just comes easy to you. That’s natural. It’s a perfect fit. But, is that always been the case for you?  

Ryan: [00:02:34] Oh man it’s funny that because that’s not even remotely close to being the case. I grew up with a very loving mother who showed her love and demonstrated her love with junk food. So every day I had access to McDonald’s. I could drink as much pop as I wanted. Now to be fair we also had you know she also made a lot of vegetables and she did make some healthy dishes. But I really was not restricted at all. And so, I grew up kind of a chubby kid. And I was that kind. I was a fat kid plain and simple no PC about it. And I got picked on. I got teased. I was bad at sports and eventually I decided I wanted to do something about it. So I began exercising. My exercise originally came from trying to improve my sport performance for basketball. That was the love of my life was basketball. I really wanted to be good at it. I had dreams of playing in the NBA and while that didn’t work out. It started me down my career path of being a strength coach and now a consultant. And so but know that the health and fitness does not come naturally. Even as a strength coach, I still battled weight issues you know. Especially when I was in my big earlier prime of being strong. You know I listed all the power levers. Who cares what your body fat is as long as you have a massive bench press. And so I was still super fat. And so then it got to a point where I had had enough. I was 292 pounds. 2-9-2. Not lean at all. And I kind of looked like I didn’t belong in the industry of the gym. Even though I was strong. I felt like I didn’t belong. So that started me getting on to kind of crazy dieting like really hard hardcore. You know, I was tough I was in the military. So I felt mentally I could do a lot of tough things. I started doing some hard dieting. Well eventually that led to binge eating issues. And if I’m honest with you I mean this is something I still balance to this day. It’s like once an alcoholic always an alcoholic type thing. Even if you haven’t had a drink in 30 years. It’s the same thing for me. I control it and I manage it very well. But man if something goes wrong and I slip I could be you know three boxes deep in cereal looking for answers at the bottom of a cereal bowl you know. So yeah it has not always come easy to me. So I have to work my tail off for everything I’ve ever done. But that is one thing that I can tell you. No one does more than me and that’s work hard to continue my craft to learn. I read every day. I educate myself. I practice it with my clients and myself. So it’s definitely not been natural but it’s my love so I’m going to continue to do it.  

Chris: [00:05:22] Yeah. Wow that’s it. And that’s where I think most experts come out of. They come out of real experience obviously. I mean you know and that’s were that passion comes from too. You know if you’re educated about something and passionate about something you know because you’ve lived it and experienced that I mean that just drives obviously your success and your ability to reach people you know. You know who is going to help them if they’ve never struggled with something maybe themselves so. What is it about like hunger and in particular that completely sucks. Every bit of willpower from us. Like obviously it’s probably the drive one, number one driving force why most people fail at any kind of diet. It’s just the hunger. It is still. But why is that.  

Ryan: [00:06:20] Well first of all I want to give you a little background to kind of you can understand the hunger connection. So what I started noticing both in myself and in clients. Clients would have rapid fat loss so they would have a goal. They would do a diet to achieve a goal. And then after the goal, once they achieve whatever they set out to achieve maybe it was a better Beach-body or a certain percentage of body fat. It was almost like the fat just piled on faster than it came off. And what I notice I started taking notes and it occurred in all fat-fat loss diet. So whether it was Ketogenic Diet, a high carb diet, a cyclical diet, an Atkins diet, zones diet. Whatever it was, it happened in all of them. And the common thread or the common thing that I found with it was post goal hunger. So after they achieve their goal, they literally would eat their results away. They could not stop eating; they were always starving. And I knew there had to be a connection. So I started kind of researching it. And what I came upon which any scientists or physiologist did know is two hormones Leptin and Ghrelin that which are basically your hunger and appetite hormones. The peptide hormones are secreted that different parts in the body. Leptin primarily by fat cells and Ghrelin primarily by your stomach. Leptin actually decreases your appetite. So leptin is the hormone that lets you know that you’re full. Ghrelin actually increases your appetite. So leptin is contained in body fat. So if you have a high amount of body fat, you’ve got a lot of leptin. You have a lot of the chemical that tells you to stop eating. But here’s the problem, here’s the kicker over time with poor eating habits, poor lifestyle habits, stress, lack of exercise, lack of sleep. You can become resistant to leptin. So basically what happens your body begins to ignore the signal that you’ve had enough to eat. Ghrelin is secreted when your stomach is empty. What it does it get highest just before a meal to queue you to eat. And then it decreases sharply after you eat. Ok, here’s the other kicker though. It’s secreted also in stressful situations. So that’s why we stress eat right. We binge on candy bars and we binge on potato chips when we are really stressed because that hormone secreted during stressful times. Now these hormones everyone’s like man this sucks, Ghrelin I’m always hungry. Leptin blah blah blah. There’s a built in survival mechanism and you don’t want to completely get rid of their function because they’re built to keep us alive. Your body want to stay exactly as you are because it doesn’t know if you’re just trying to lose five pounds or if he’s starving on a desert island. So these things are regulatory hormones to keep you alive and healthy. So here’s the thing. Weight loss that is too rapid happens too fast causes a massive surge in Ghrelin levels. So it makes you super hungry. Well super hungry. Suppressing that requires willpower and as you mentioned willpower. I mean it’s something we have to overcome. Willpower is kind of like a battery. Right. So it only lasts for so long and then when the battery runs out you’re in a situation where your body Ghrelin as high as your body is telling you to eat everything in sight. You’ve lost your willpower and now you’re eating and the weight comes piling back on. So you know kind of this is scenario actually all too often. Somebody has high body fat levels; bad eating habits they don’t exercise. So the body is constantly telling them that they’re hungry and any possible signal that they have that indicate that they’re full is being ignored by the brain. This is a huge hurdle to get over. So a lot of people will start exercising. What is the first kind of exercise everybody wants to do when it’s time to lose body fat Chris?  

Chris: They want to start doing some cardio.  

 Ryan: [00:10:13] Cardio, aerobic exercise. You want to know what that is. Aerobics exercise increases Ghrelin. So it makes you even more hungry. So now you have this person whose brain is ignoring the fact that their full. Their stomach is secreting chemicals to the brain that is telling them that they’re starving. And now they’re doing exercise that makes them even more hungry. This is just a whirlwind. OK. So now they start doing all kinds of cardio because it’s like they have to. They go on a super low calorie crash diet and maybe they succeed in losing a bunch of weight really quickly. OK, a lot of people do. Because again they can go as long as their willpower last. Now Ghrelin levels are through the roof because of how they did it and once the willpower breaks they’re just gonna gain again crazy amounts of fat. Usually most often and I’m saying this from personal experience too. Usually becoming fatter than they were before they started and the vicious cycle repeats with fad diet after fad diet and year after year. People who are genuinely trying to change their bodies aren’t enough fatter and sicker and just unhappy, depressed. So the bad cycle after that.  

 Chris: [00:11:23] It is an awful cycle because as you mentioned that depression most often leads to more poor choices in food and none of us binge eat. I always laugh not why can’t we just binge eat cauliflower you know.  

Ryan: [00:11:39] Exactly. Yes.   

Chris: [00:11:40] It’s just not, it’s not satiating enough you know. It’s not satisfying when we binge, we crave high fat or sugary things. And you’re right. I mean we’ve all I went through when I was when you were talking earlier in the call about when you were younger it went through that phase of just being that kind of a heavy kid. I had that for a couple of years. And man it’s just such a some of us never escape it. Some of us just can never get out of that funk of you know poor food choices and having just everything is at our fingertips anymore. You know you walk in the grocery store and you’re bombarded with all the bad stuff right when you’re walking home. Fortunately, most of us succumbed to that.  

 Ryan: [00:12:32] Right. And that’s the hard part. A lot of the foods that we’re eating Chris are foods that do not signal us that we’ve had enough to eat. So I will talk about it a little bit. But Ghrelin is secreted by the lining of the stomach in response to how much food is in the stomach. So if you eat something like vegetables let’s say which are really full in terms of volume. Like a huge let’s say you take six cups of spinach, that takes up a lot of space in your stomach. But it’s not a lot of calories. Well Ghrelin will stop its secretion early because your stomach gets full. If you eat something like chocolate chips for example, they’re very very tiny. They don’t take up a lot of space but they’re high in calories. So there’s no signal that you’ve had enough to eat. And so that’s one of the hardest problems. And you know the other thing and we to talk about this too. Yes, there are foods that are more nutritious for us and offer greater benefits. But one of the most dangerous things that you can do is to start looking at food as good food versus bad food. Because once you get that mentality in your head, you will feel guilty every time you enjoy something that you like. It’s not about never having a food again. It’s about finding a way to incorporate it into your plan. That still allows you to see success and be sustainable. All right. We’re not talking about bodybuilding contest preparation here. That’s a completely different animal. We’re talking about helping a healthy, healthy, quote unquote regular person gets in better shape and to do that you do not need to completely eliminate your favorite foods.  

Chris: [00:14:14] Wow. Yeah. And it’s that label that we put on everything right. The good and the bad. And that immediately leads to our obviously the way we think about things and we either get happy you know are proud of ourselves when we eat healthy foods and we get like matter ourselves angry at ourselves. Not during but after we made a bad choice specially for were really trying to you know if we have a goal set for us.  

Ryan: [00:14:43] Right. I had a client one time and you know we started her off on a really you know pretty strict nutrition plan and she had a lot of body fat to lose. And she was checking in with me and just results kind of weren’t happening. So I asked her said hey what’s up. I was like you know why in your opinion why do you think the plan isn’t working. Sure was Ryan’s. All I can think about are jelly beans. Because I love jelly beans they are my favorite thing. And since we started our nutritional plan I haven’t had any so they’re on my mind all the time. So I may make it two days and then I’ll crave and eat a whole bag of jelly beans. Ok let’s do this. I said How about this on your hardest leg training days. You can have a cup of jellybeans right after your workout. And then on your hardest upper body training days you have a half a cup of jelly beans right after your workout. And from that moment on it was like the fat melted off of her because now there was no restriction in her diet. She could have her favorite food every single day that she trained. There wasn’t this desperate feeling of oh my gosh I’m never going to have jelly beans again. We put it at a place in her day where it was going to be most beneficial to her in terms of replenishing the fuel that she just used during her workouts so it’s not going to get converted to body fat. Not going to stop her progress in the least. And then it was amazing to watch her change and she’s made the comment to me so it’s so liberating to know that I don’t have to feel guilty about this. So it’s was like you have to take in mind the psychology of the client and the person as well. If I tell you Chris whatever you do in the next 30 seconds do not think of a pink elephant. What’s the first frickin thing you thought of.  

Chris: Pink elephant, no doubt.  

Ryan: [00:16:30] So if I tell you, so if I tell you no cookies, no ice cream, no this ever. That’s all that’s going to be on your mind even if you wouldn’t have had it in the first place. If I told them, you can’t have it dang it now you’re going to bury your face an entire half gallon of ice cream.  

Chris: [00:16:45] We all have that deep desire to rebel against when someone tells us don’t never. You can’t write off. You know when you’re a kid always say you know you cannot go it ever go in my room or in that room or in that office or whatever. What was the kids do, the first chance they get they sneak in to investigate? And the same thing goes with the food. I mean if I had a great question for you and you already handled it. You already tackled it.  

Ryan: [00:17:16] Oh sorry.  

Chris: [00:17:17] No but it’s good. I mean you got to before I could even ask is just about a bad habit. And we all have them. Whether it’s food based, whether it’s exercise based. But we don’t, we can’t ever really with your jellybean example. We can’t stop bad habits because it will eat at us. They will just eat at us. Most people cannot Cold turkey anything. But if they have a lifeline to that. If they have their little cup or half cup post workout on their heart you know and they’re able to at least still enjoy a moderate a small amount of what they crave, what they think about every day. Then they feel like OK there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, I can continue with this. And that’s the hope, that the big picture is how consistent are you. How long are you willing to commit to something? Three weeks or three years. You know.  

Ryan: [00:18:16] What’s interesting I see people all the time and they have had people like the comments me coach they say I find this really strange. Ever since you’ve allowed me to eat whatever it is. Jellybeans or pizza or chips or whatever it is. I’m actually like losing I’m getting in shape at a faster level than I was before. And if you think about what’s actually going on here what most people will do is they’ll crash diet hard for five days of the week. Monday through Friday or Monday through Friday afternoon then Friday night, Saturday and Sunday they go completely off the wagon and actually binge eat. And I’ve actually done the math on a lot of people. And a lot of people will eat so much so that they’re in this huge calorie deficit Monday through Friday and then Friday night Saturday and Sunday they eat so much that not only do they completely undo the deficit they actually create a surplus over the course of the week. So it doesn’t matter day to day what happens. What matters is what state being your body in. Week to week, month to month, year to year. And so what ends up happening when we remove those binge eating patterns and we just trickle those their favorite foods in a reasonable manner. They actually end up finally achieving a calorie deficit for the first time in their lives. And so you know it’s kind of an interesting thing. It’s very confusing them their like. So I’m eating this stuff now when I’m losing weight faster it’s like well yeah because you’re not eating like you did before when you were eating you know an entire pizza and ice cream and beer. Right. You know it all at once and until you’re six.  

Chris: [00:19:54] It’s the perfect example of all or nothing. You know. If we don’t operate well with either one of those and it’s right. We must find a happy medium. A compromise, a way to moderate our intake of whatever it is you know. And people are like oh ok so i can eat a salad. I can have a small cup of jelly beans but then I can still have like a slice of pizza every now and again too you know I can. Oh. All right. So this is how you know it just can’t eat a whole pizza.  

 Ryan: [00:20:34] I had a client who was actually, he was actually preparing for a photo shoot. So this was like. And again I’ve mentioned before photo shoot and bodybuilding contest perhaps of a different animal in its entirety. But when I was preparing for a photo-shoot and you had a family vacation like literally three weeks out. And for any of you that know what happens in a bodybuilding show those last really eight to 12 weeks. You’re eating like a monk. You know every gram of every single macronutrient that you’re eating every day. And so he was freaking out because he had a family vacation and I was like. All right. Look you take your meal plan and you’re going to take let’s say a meal for it was supposed to be 300 calories and it was supposed to be chicken and brown rice and broccoli let’s say. When you’re on vacation eat whatever your family’s eating. But just try to approximate 300 calories of that. So in essence like you go to a pizza joint 300 calories is about one slice of pizza. So he’s like man. So he did it. You know we still made sure he hit his protein targets and whatnot but he was eating pizza. He was eating burgers and whatnot but he comes back and he didn’t lose a single step in his contest preps. And he was like it’s so liberating to know that you can still achieve these results just by moderating your intake. Again.