Homeostasis and the Power of Cycling

When we introduced our all-in-one PAGG stack to the market, we decided from the start to follow Tim Ferriss’s recommendations in the Four Hour Body closely – he and his testers had done the research, and identified empirically what protocols worked best. This included a recommendation to cycle the intake, taking one day off each week, and one week off after every two months.

Cycling is something you rarely see supplement companies recommend. From a purely financial perspective the last thing a company would want to see is their customers taking a break from using a product. To many people the idea of cycling itself seems counter-intuitive. If a supplement is working, why would you want to take a break from it?

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Your body is a finely tuned system that is constantly at work in making sure that your body changes as little as possible. Scientists call this process homeostasis. It’s why your core temperature usually won’t vary much from 37 degrees celsius, and the pH level of your blood is going to be pretty close to 7.365. Even when you’re resting, your body is maintaining these narrow ranges of temperature, pH, internal pressures and biochemical balance that are necessary to support life.

When you think of the vast range of external factors our bodies are bombarded with, that’s a pretty complex and impressive job – climate, diet, environmental toxins and countless other factors can vary widely, yet our bodies adjust and adapt when allowed to do so. Move to a much warmer area and you’ll feel pretty hot at first, but as your body adjusts (and you drink enough water) you adapt and it feels normal; in fact, stay long enough and your blood actually thins slightly. Then you go home again and feel cold, because your body needs to adjust back again.

How to Get Ahead by Cheating

The same thing happens with what we eat and how fast our metabolism is. A lot of people reading this have probably tried to diet in the past and had the experience of losing a lot of weight early on, and then stalling. This is because the body adjusts by slowing down the metabolic rate to compensate for the lower caloric intake. One of the saddest things in the world of nutrition is the large number of people engaging in starvation diets who live through abject misery only to end up with really slow metabolisms. When they fall off the wagon and start eating normally again, their slow metabolisms mean that their bodies regain fat at an accelerated rate.

For decades bodybuilders preparing for contests have employed cheat meals, or days into their diets. Obviously, this help with diet compliance. Knowing that you can eat pizza on Saturday, makes avoiding that bagel on Wednesday a lot easier. But there’s a lot of evidence that something else is going on. By ‘refeeding’ periodically you can actually short-circuit the body’s homeostasis machinery. This is one of the most loved aspects of the slow-carb diet, and a true revelation for many recovering starvation dieters.

It Feels like the First Time

You may remember the first time they drank coffee. Your eyes almost dried up because blinking seemed impossible, and you might have stayed awake until 3 in the morning. Compare that experience to the person whose body is so used to it that they drink 4 or 5 cups a day just to feel ‘normal’.

When you start taking a supplement it’s a fresh experience for your body. You have a set metabolism and rate of fat storage that has probably not changed for years, and adding substances like policosanol, EGCG, garlic, and alpha-lipoic acid stimulate reactions from your body that causes your metabolism to increase. But, your body doesn’t want to give up those long established patterns, and will make adjustments in how it responds to what you’re putting into it, and eventually the effect they have on you is diminished.

This is the logic behind cycling a powerful supplement like PAGG, and why it’s important to take one day off every week and a full week off after two months. It gives your body a chance to reset to the baseline so that upon resumption, the stack can have its full effect again. Many of you may have already noticed that with our PAGG stack formulation, we recommend a full week off after every month instead of after every two months. Why the extra time off? With the high quality of our ingredients combined in only four capsules each day, we found that our customers were getting consistent results this way. This gave them better results more quickly and led us to recommend that people actually take less of our product over time (I know, we’re nuts right?).

Take less pills, eat donuts once a week, and still get that 6-pack you’ve been chasing for years? It sounds to good to be true. By understanding homeostasis and how to hack the process it’s achievable.

This is a guest post by Ross Harvey of Pareto Nutrition


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