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Why You Are Not REALLY Hungry

Are you really hungry?

This seems like a straightforward, almost patronizing question to ask someone who has been eating food every day since they were brought into this world.  I would say that most people would consider themselves subject matter experts on the topic, confident enough to testify in court!  This article is not meant to questions your basic understanding of hunger, but to outline some of the pitfalls that we can come across when we modify our diet and remove a few specific fuel sources that our body has built up a dependence on for the majority of our lives.

Hunger (in the middle class) is has become more of a trained response than a valuable biofeedback signal for our survival.  Just like pavlov’s dogs who can be trained to salivate to only the sound of a bell, we as human program ourselves to feel hungry based on many outside stimuli.  Assuming you are fortunate enough to have all of your basic needs met and you are not struggling to pull together enough money to feed your family, food then becomes a hobby far more than an essential life function.   We go to “fancy” restaurants and explore new places to get lunch, rarely is nutrition the driving force behind our decision on where to eat, it’s usually seeking novelty or a specific flavor profile.  What this means is that eating and hunger are no longer primarily biologically driven, they are psychologically driven.   We “think” we are hungry when more often than not we really aren’t.

These are some common erroneous “triggers” we have been trained to indicate hunger:

  • Time of Day
  • Stress
  • Boredom
  • Procrastination (Typically From Stress)
  • Addiction (To sugars)

But I need to eat to have energy!

To put the energy argument to bed, even if you had a body fat percentage in the low teens (the average body fat percentage of non-obese men is 23% and 34% for women) you would have enough energy stored in your fat cells to keep you going for WEEKS.  The key to the Apollo Challenge is training your body to utilize the RIGHT sources of energy (fat) and stop relying on the “quick fix” of carbohydrates.  We become addicted to the quick fix of sugars and our body rewards us with a similar response as if we had taken cocaine!  But this euphoric response subsides quickly and we are left reaching for more cheap carbs.  This is why so many people get caught in the cycle of binge eating and snacking when in reality you already have all of the energy you need to get through your day, eating the right foods is then just a way to keep that topped up.

Simple Carbohydrates:

The standard American diet is dominated by simple carbohydrates.  Bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, pastries.  A sandwich is like wrapping healthy foods with simple carbohydrates in an effort to very cheaply increase the caloric value of that meal.   Simple carbohydrates are cheap calories.  These are also the calories that we are most susceptible to become addicted to. The results become compounded when we consume gluten containing carbohydrates as we develop an opioid response (that is similar to heroin) when we consume gluten containing products.

How do we combat perceived hunger?

  1. After all that you may actually be hungry and need to add more fats to your diet.  This is common in the first two weeks of the program as you are getting used to burning fat instead of glucose and you have not adjusted your habits to include enough fat in your meals. Adding avocado and plenty of olive oil to salads and cooking with high-quality oils is a great way to ensure fat intake. Adding MCT oil and butter to your coffee (Smart Coffee) is the best way to supplement your fat intake!
  2. You may be dehydrated.  Our bodies can confuse the signal for thirst with the signal for hunger.  Go drink a full glass of water and give yourself 5 minutes to see if your cravings subside (I don’t suggest watching paint dry while waiting for the cravings to subside, your mind will tend to only falsely magnify these feels if not distracted).
  3. As we mentioned above, carbohydrates rarely satiate our appetite long-term. By making sure the only foods available to you are high-quality fats and proteins, its far less likely that when you get the first pangs of hunger that you will reach for the cheap stuff.

One of the first things people exclaim when they are exposed to a low-carb diet is “well what is there left to eat?”  This scarcity mentality serves no one well.  When you look at the foods in our #ApolloApproved Foods article, you will notice that there are plenty of food options for you to choose from, variation is really only limited by your creativity.   When we approach this from a place of abundance, that there are hundreds of food options that you CAN eat to achieve optimal health we get closer to internalizing the true intention of the Apollo Challenge.  Remember, being mindful of the source of your perceived hunger and using some of these tips can keep you from succumbing to cheap carbs and if you do find that you are truly hungry make sure you are only feeding yourself the highest quality fats and proteins.

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What To Eat For Dinner

Dinner is simple, delicious and satisfying on the Apollo Challenge. Pick your favorite meat, veggies, and seasonings and prepare how you like. Roasted, grilled, steamed, it’s your call!  Look at the recipe pages in your Apollo Challenge Book for ideas and head over to the #ApolloApproved Foods page to start building your dinner meal plan.


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The Apollo Challenge Nutrition Philosophy

Let’s go step by step through each part of our nutrition philosophy.   The Apollo Challenge nutrition program is designed to introduce you to a completely new lifestyle. One where you no longer need to worry about managing your weight or keeping up your energy levels. For some people, these concepts might be entirely new. For others, you may have heard about one or two of these ideas on their own.   What you need to know is that it is the system as a whole that provides extraordinary results, not just the individual components. You need to pay close attention to how they fit together so you can maximize your efforts and not make simple mistakes that impact your progress.  You Apollo Challenge book is designed to hold your hand every day and every step of the way.

How It Works:

It seems simple enough, and once you understand the intentions and nuances you will find that it is incredibly easy to maintain. Why it works is slightly more complicated.  To achieve the amazing fat loss, muscle building, and cognitive enhancing effects of the Apollo Challenge we have combined several cutting-edge nutrition concepts into a manageable and repeatable system.  The components are as follows:

Part 1 | Fat-Assisted Intermittent Fast:

Our Fat-Assisted Intermittent Fasting protocol follows a 16/8 schedule, where you won’t consume any insulinogenic calories for a full 16 hours. That is no food (other than fats) for a full 16 hours, followed by an 8-hour eating window where you will limit your carbohydrate intake and focus on high-quality fats and proteins (ie #ApolloApproved Foods).  During this 16 hour window of carbohydrate and protein restriction, your body will be forced to switch from using glucose as its main energy source to ketones (aka burning fat!).  During the 8-hour eating window, you will eat a low carbohydrate, low inflammation diet that will encourage your body to burn fat all day long.  You will repeat this protocol every day, hence the name “intermittent” (on and off) fasting.

What This Looks Like:

SMART COFFEE: Wake up after 8 hours of sleep and consume 400 calories of high-quality fats from MCT and Grass Fed Butter blended into your “Smart Coffee” as well as taking 5g of BCAA’s with a full glass of water. This is your “breakfast”. The MCT oil will spike your ketone production and prolong your ketogenic state, while the CLA and Omega-3’s in Grass Fed Butter will keep your hunger at bay and feed your cells with energy. The BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids) will help you keep and build your lean mass while maintaining your fasted state.

Go about the first half of your day running on your Smart Coffee and stored fat.  You should wait a full 16 hours from your previous meal before having your lunch.  Feel free to consume as many #ApolloApproved beverages as you like.  Water, flavored sparking waters (Lacroix or similar), coffee, and tea are all great options.

LUNCH: 16 hours have elapsed and it’s time to eat. Make sure you consume enough high-quality meats, vegetables and fats during your 8-hour eating window to ensure you get enough calories to support muscle growth and energy levels. This is not a caloric restriction or “starvation” diet, you should get the calories you need every day, you just need to be very specific as to what you eat and when you consume it.  Your lunch should typically be an Apollo Power Salad or a combination of a meat and vegetables of your choice.

XPG SHAKE:  In order to achieve your protein goals (see page 12 of your book to calculate your protein goal), you will probably need to supplement your protein intake with an XPG Shake.  XPG stands for “Extra Protein and Greens” and is a delicious and satiating way to get in those extra grams of protein. This can be consumed as an afternoon snack or as an after dinner treat.

DINNER:  This is going to be a plate full of flavorful meat and vegetables cooked with high-quality fats and seasoned to your taste.  See the list of #ApolloApproved foods to understand that the limit on variations of this meal is only your imagination and palate.

SLEEP: This is the easiest part of your fast as you will be fast asleep for half of your intermittent fasting window.  Make sure you read our articles on sleep to understand how important this is to your overall health and fitness goals.

Part 2 | Low-Carb, Low Inflammatory Diet:

You will eat a low-carb diet of delicious fresh whole-foods focusing on meats, vegetables, nuts, and oils.  You will avoid all inflammatory foods and additives including gluten, dairy, soy, legumes, and all sugars.

The reasoning for this is two-fold. Low-carb keeps your body in a ketogenic state, ready to burn fat and produce ketones to keep your brain running at 100%. Low-inflammatory keeps your body from having to fight with your food to derive nutrition and focuses its efforts on what its designed to do, replacing cells (building muscle) and performing at peak capacity.

A peer-reviewed study from 2004 concluded that “Indeed, there is no clear requirement for dietary carbohydrates for human adults.”[1]  That’s right! Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t NEED carbs.  Our body is just as happy to run on fats and protein and produce ketones to fuel our metabolic processes. Read our article on hunger to understand why you might still “think” you need carbs.  Most importantly, when you eat a low-carbohydrate diet you will enter a state of what is called “nutritional ketosis”, more on that below.

Part 3 | Nutritional Ketosis

At any given moment your body has two discrete system that it can leverage to generate the energy it needs to function.   One system relies on glucose; this is typically derived from carbohydrates in your diet and is the shortest path from food to energy OR fat storage.  The second system relies on fatty acid metabolism (also known as burning fat) to produce ketone bodies (“ketones”) that our cells use to produce energy.  Ketones are actually a far more potent source of energy for our cells and produce more ATP (cellular energy) per unit of oxygen (how cells create energy) than any other fuel source our body has available, and the best part is that they can’t be stored as fat!  Our body creates ketones from stored fats as well as dietary fats (this is the main reason we start our day with Smart Coffee).  The catch is that our body will only switch into creating ketones when there is no glucose (carbohydrates) available for it to use first.   The two advantages of being in nutritional ketosis that we are looking for during the Apollo Challenge are its incredible ability to burn fat as well as the remarkable cognitive benefits that are realized in the form of mental sharpness and clarity.  The two parts mentioned above, fast-assisted intermittent fasting and a low-carb, low-inflammatory diet are the tools we will use to maximize our bodies natural ability to burn fat and leverage ketones for fuel.


It’s important to remember that the Apollo Challenge is designed to be a complete lifestyle change, to reset the way you look at food and establish a healthy relationship with the ingredients that will establish your recipe for health.  Understanding these techniques and pay close attention to the foods you eat and the schedule you eat them on is the key to achieving incredible body recompositions, mental breakthroughs and transforming your life.

Additional Nutrition Articles You Should Read:

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What To Eat For Lunch

If you have read our Intermittent Fasting article, you know that Lunch is actually your first meal of the day during the Apollo Challenge.  Starting your day with Smart Coffee and BCAA as your “UnBreakfast” and waiting 16 hours from your last meal before thinking about Lunch.   Lunch is a very important part of your daily nutritional strategy and will set the stage for your energy levels the following day.

Lunch should typically be an Apollo Power Salad, but you can also choose any meat and vegetables from the #ApolloApproved list of foods to make a delicious meal.   This is also a great time to have some warm bone broth to make sure you are getting enough sodium and potassium while you are rapidly losing weight.  This will also mitigate the effects of “carb withdrawals” you may feel in the first couple days on a low-carb diet.


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Fat-Assisted Intermittent Fasting

What is Fat-Assisted Intermittent Fasting?

Fat-Assisted Intermittent Fasting is the nutritional protocol we use to leverage Smart Coffee and the Apollo Challenge Diet to achieve a state of nutritional ketosis.  Intermittent fasting is when we limit our food intake to a specific 8-hour window of the day and follow this with a 16-hour “fasting’ period.  In a Fat-Assisted Intermittent Fast, we will only consume specifically targeted fat calories during the fasting period to both deepen our state of nutritional ketosis and hold off any hunger pangs we might be conditioned to feel around breakfast.  Since the primary goal of our fasting window is to condition our bodies to rely on ketones (fats) for fuel rather than carbohydrates, consuming dietary fats does not interrupt our fasted state.

Why do we need fats?

MCT’s (in the form of MCT oil derived from coconuts) have been shown to elevate our bodies natural ketone production and further deepen our state of nutritional ketosis.  This puts in “fat burning mode” and fuels our body and our brain with highly efficient ketone bodies.  The butter from grass-fed cows provides another range of fats in the form of Omega-3’s and CLA, these both provide fuel in the form of dietary fats as well as help to suppress the feelings of hunger.  Both of these produce high-octane fuel for our brains that has significant cognitive benefits.


The Schedule:

You should plan you eating windows around a schedule that is most practical for you.  This 8-hour period is when you will consume all of your protein and carbohydrate calories for the day.   Typically this will start with lunch around noon and end with dinner before 8pm.  The 16 hour fasting period is made even easier by the fact that you will be asleep for half of it.  Plan to wake up and have your Smart Coffee (and BCAA’s) when you would normally have breakfast.  Getting a full nights sleep, a good workout, and two large meals loaded with healthy fats will all help to keep hunger at bay and make intermittent fasting a productive and enjoyable addition to your day.

The Benefits:


Intermittent fasting is all about conditioning your body to use ketones for fuel instead of glucose (carbohydrates).  The cognitive benefits of running on 100% ketones is remarkable and repeatable.  Improved sharpness, recall, memory, and elimination of brain haze are only a few of the desirable results.

Fat Loss:

Intermittent fasting is far more effective at preserving and building lean muscle than simple caloric restriction. Most traditional doctors and fitness advocates will tell you that its impossible to loose fat without also losing some muscle. This simply isn’t true. We have shown that the Apollo Challange’s combination of fat-assisted intermittent fasting, BCAA supplementation, low-carb + low-inflammatory diet and high-intensity strength training can simultaneously drop double digit pounds of fat while building multiple pounds of muscle in only 28 days.

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Take Your BCAA’s Every Morning

The Apollo Challenge advocates the use of daily branch-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplementation to support muscle building and strength gains.  BCAA’s play a vital role in supporting muscle tissue through the intermittent fasting cycle.  In addition, consuming BCAA’s pre-workout promotes favorable performance and recovery outcomes.

L-Isoleucine Molecular Structure

BCAA’s for Muscle Preservation:

When your body is in a prolonged state of fasting as outlined in our intermittent fasting protocol there is the chance that given an elevated state of activity your body may start to break down muscle tissue as the most readily available source of energy.  To prevent this unwanted outcome, we suggest consuming 5g of BCAA’s each morning with your Smart Coffee.  This technique has shown to prevent muscle loss while following an intermittent fasting protocol.  The welcome side effect of consuming your BCAA’s in the morning is that it also helps to blunt your bodies programmed sense of hunger, making it more comfortable to extend your intermittent fasting period.

BCAA’s for Building Muscle:

By consuming an additional 5g of BCAA’s immediately before your Apollo Challenge workouts you will see a notable improvement in workout performance.  These BCAA’s will improve your fatigue resistance and help you grind out high-quality repetitions at challenging weights.  This will set-up a domino effect of strength gains as you move through your workouts each week.  These Strength and stamina benefits are due to improved protein synthesis and muscle energy production from BCAA supplementation.  You will also experience reduced muscle soreness as the fatigue resistant mechanisms increase one’s ability to recover following a high-effort workout. BCAA supplementation has been shown to significantly improve serum testosterone levels and significantly decrease cortisol and creatine kinase levels. [1]


We suggest you consume 5g of BCAA’s every morning with your Smart Coffee and an additional 5g immediately before each Apollo Challenge workout.  This will range from 8 Capsules-10 capsules per servings depending on the brand of BCAA’s you purchase.

We recommend the Muscle Pharm brand as it has a Rating  of “A” for its high-quality.


[1] J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Apr;24(4):1125-30. doi; 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181c7c655 (