28 Jan Eat Less Do More Is Bullshit: The Truth About Weight Loss
Ok, maybe that statement isn’t total bullshit.
It’s definitely not as ludicrous as skinny tea or fat wraps.
But, weight loss goes much deeper than the old mantra “eat less and move more”.
Weight loss can be difficult and confusing for a lot of people.
The United States is trending towards a 1:2 overweight or obesity rating by the year 2020.
Think about that for a minute. One out of every two individuals will be considered overweight or obese by 2020 according to this prediction. As a country, we obviously are a bit confused when it comes to weight loss.
I want to make things super simple and easy for you by breaking down exactly what a successful nutrition protocol for sustainable weight loss will look like.
The First Law Of Fat Loss.
Nutrition is a science. That’s why RD’s are required to take countless organic chemistry (I almost lost my mind multiple times in that class), biochemistry, and physics classes to truly understand the human body to prescribe effective weight loss protocols. Basic science tells us that you need a certain amount of energy (in the form of calories) to sustain life. We obtain energy from two places: food and stored body fat. In theory, the following should be true:
*If you eat less calories than you burn, you lose weight.
*If you eat MORE calories than you burn, you gain weight.
However, this isn’t always the case. This equation references body weight, however it doesn’t provide much information on other factors such as body fat percentage. Body fat percentage or what’s termed body composition (lean muscle vs body fat) goes way deeper than just calories. Other components include hormones, the quality of calories and the type of calories (protein, carbs, fats), exercise, age, stress factors, past medical and weight loss history, etc.
People become very frustrated when they are working really hard in the gym multiple days per week, eating relatively healthy foods, but not seeing the results on the scale. On paper they should be losing weight. But the numbers aren’t adding up. Why is that?
It’s because weight loss goes deeper than “eat less and do more”.
Your Body Doesn’t Care About Your Abs.
You are built for survival at all costs.
Your body is very primitively hardwired. Your body does not care about how you look in a two piece bikini, or having a six pack of abs. Our metabolism has evolved to keep us alive during times when food was scarce by slowing down several key metabolic processes to sustain life in times of lower calories. This is what’s termed metabolic adaptation. This may sound like a bad thing, “why in the hell would my body slow down my metabolism when I am trying to lose fat” you might be thinking. Remember, your body wants survival at all cost. So when we start talking about “calories out” what does that really mean? There are four main components:
1) Resting Metabolic Rate (aka RMR or BMR) – This is the number of calories it takes to sustain life if you were to lay in a bed all day and just breathe. These are the millions of chemical reactions that occur daily that you have no idea about internally. This number is variable from person to person depending on a multitude of factors. Online BMR calculators are grossly off due to not being able to take into consideration individualistic characteristics of the end user.
2) Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) – You use calories to break down, digest, and absorb the foods you eat. You burn more calories digesting dietary proteins (around 20 percent), compared to carbohydrates (5-6 percent) and fats (roughly 3%). That doesn’t mean eat an insane amount of dietary protein. It must be balanced with the other macronutrients for your goals.
3) Activity or Exercise – The amount of calories burnt during activity such as walking, jogging, lifting weights, doing squats, etc. This again is variable depending on multiple factors such as intensity, duration, the exercisers experience, etc.
4) Non- Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) – The calories you burn chewing, thinking, scratching, fidgeting, etc.
All of these for components make up the “calories out” part of the weight loss equation. Now, if this doesn’t seem complex enough it gets even trickier. As I mentioned above when you try to lose body fat, your bodies survival response system goes off. It doesn’t like what you are doing, so it starts to fight back. Remember, your body thinks it’s doing you a favor here. It’s still stuck in cave man times where food can be scarce. It doesn’t realize it’s 2018 and you are trying to get lean and trimmed for beach season. How does it fight back? This is a process we call metabolic adaptations. Some common metabolic adaptations include:
*Thermic effect of food goes down causing you to burn less calories when you are consuming foods.
*Resting metabolic rate goes down as you start to weigh less.
*Calorie burn through exercise goes down as you start to weigh less.
*NEAT goes down as you eat less to try to lose weight.
*Hunger signals start to increase causing you to crave more food and feel less full after eating.
*Cortisol (your stress hormone) rises from the physiological stress of weight loss and can cause acute (short term) water retention and “puffiness”.
Note that these metabolic adaptations are minimal when you begin the fat loss process. They begin to really ramp up as body fat comes off and as you approach lower body fat levels. If you are looking at losing 50 or more pounds, these adaptations will not occur right away. But, if you are trying to lose that last few percent body fat, you are more likely to experience the above mentioned metabolic adaptations.
This is why yo-yo dieting (periods of losing weight followed by rapid weight re-gain) is so detrimental to long term progress. Each time a person attempts to lose the weight, weight loss becomes increasingly more difficult due to the above mentioned metabolic adaptations that occur.
So if that is you is all hope lost? No, implementing a proper reverse diet and slowly working to increase your maintenance calories can produce the long term (notice I said LONG) results you are looking for. You don’t need a detox or a juice cleanse and you aren’t broken. You just need to spend some time investing in restoring a healthy metabolism. I talk more about that topic here: The Guide To Reverse Dieting.
For this article I’d rather discuss how to focus on healthy and sustainable weight loss and prevent ever having to deal with the vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting.
Tips For Long Lasting Weight Loss:
1) Make sure you are eating adequate lean protein – Protein doesn’t just support lean muscle mass, it also increases satiety which helps you feel more full when you are eating less calories. Also, you actually BURN more calories when you eat protein due to the thermic effect of food compared to eating carbs or fats.
So how much should you get? The American Council of Sports Medicine recommends 1.2-2.0g/kg of body weight for active individuals. Incase you don’t like math look at it like this:
For active men: 6-8 palm sized serving of lean protein per day.
For active women: 4-6 palm-sized servings per day.
2) Eat a wide variety of fruits, veggies, fibrous carbs, and healthy fats – Sustainable weight loss comes from not eliminating whole food groups. ALL foods can fit into a balanced approach with nutrition.
Carbohydrates have many important roles such as fuel for training, boosting your leptin levels (fat burning hormone), and helping to maintain your sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen). Healthy fats are a vital nutrient for energy levels and help make food taste great. Never eliminate an entire food group. Life is better with carbs and fats ;).
If you want to learn more about these food choices and how to actually balance it all make sure you grab my FREE Fat Loss Nutrition Hacks E-Book here!
3. Expect weight loss plateaus and know how to adjust – Remember, you are built for survival. So when your body does it’s job and eventually slows down your fat loss progress don’t be mad. Expect that to happen. As your weight loss progresses, you will need to lower your intake (or increase your expenditure) to further see progress. I have found the best success with making SMALL adjustments at a time to a clients nutrition protocol, and then monitoring for progress. Don’t make too many changes too quick. Go slow and measure your progress.
Before you make any adjustments to your nutrition plan you have to ask yourself are you being fully compliant? Be brutally honest with yourself. Sometimes, it’s not an nutrition issue, it’s a compliance issue thats preventing you from seeing results. Do some self-assessment first and again be brutally honest with yourself. It’s for your own good after all!
4. Understand this is science and can be complex – You are the summation of BILLIONS and BILLIONS of chemical reactions daily. So many things influence how we lose weight. Don’t become frustrated if you started making some changes to your nutrition and fitness program but don’t see immediate results.
Realize sometimes weight loss can be slow and gradual, especially at first. The average weight loss is 0.5-1lb PER WEEK. Now, I can definitely say for the most part my clients see more accelerated results than that, but that’s with a custom plan, coaching, accountability, and being dedicated on their part. So if you are trying to do somethings on your own, set realistic expectations for yourself. If you want to speed things up and expedite your results check out the Private Coaching Program here.
5. Refeed periodically – Want to know the biggest mistake I see most people making with their fat loss programs? They don’t do strategic refeed days! Not “cheat days”. Cheat days are excuses for people to binge all day. Refeed days are strategic higher carb (I lower protein and fats to balance) that actually help promotes your weight loss by temporarily boosting leptin (fat burn) levels. As well as serving as a mental break from fat loss for a day. The research really supports refeed days, so if you aren’t doing them you aren’t maximizing your fat loss potential.
Need Help Nailing Your Nutrition?
This article provides you with some very valuable information when it comes to effective fat loss nutrition protocols. For most people the problem isn’t knowledge, it’s application. Most people know what healthy eating and portions look like, yet they need help applying that knowledge and breaking free of old habits. If that’s you then I want you to click the link below and apply for the private coaching program.
If you have questions feel free to post them below!