“To debunk the myths you’ve been fed about nutrition and show you the truth about food is my mission.” – Paleo Nick
“We can see that the swamp is full and we are working on it, but, it takes time to drain…” was the explanation that I heard Rick Stollmeyer (founder of MINDBODY) give to the attendees of MINDBODY University in Pismo Beach, California one year ago. He was talking about the issues that people were having with his software and how fixes on mass scale are not quick. I thought it was a good analogy and I think that it applies to our country’s current obesity epidemic. The only issue is that I’m not so sure that people in positions of power are doing anything to drain the swamp…
In the following article, I will do my best to debunk a few of the myths we’ve been fed about nutrition. Caveat Lector – I am not a nutritionist. I have no formal training in nutrition, other than two semesters in Culinary School that were heavily focused on the USDA Food Pyramid. In said nutrition class, I first learned about Celiac Disease as one of my classmates’ father was inflicted with the unfortunate sickness. His family couldn’t even have flour in their house! I thought it was a rare case at the time, but now know more as Celiac, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and others as they have become mainstream.
Anyways, today’s discussion is not on gluten sensitivity, but on weight loss in general. There is a lot of misinformation out there and I am going to do a two-part post on 5 Unhealthy Ways To Lose Weight which I’ll follow up with 5 Healthy Ways To Lose Weight. Here goes nothing…
1. Eat Less and Exercise More– This is essentially the energy balance (calories in/calories out) theory. The best way I’ve seen this explained is by Chris Williams in Gary Taubes’ book Why We Get Fat. He says this:
Imagine you are invited to a celebratory dinner. The chef’s talent is legendary, and the invitation says that this particular dinner is going to be a feast of monumental proportions. Bring your appetite, you’re told – come hungry. How would you do it?
You might try to eat less over the course of the day – maybe even skip lunch, or breakfast and lunch. You might go to the gym for a particularly vigorous workout, or go for a longer run or swim than usual, to work up an appetite. You might even walk to the dinner, rather than drive, for the same reason.
Now let’s think about this for a moment. The instructions that we’re constantly being given to lose weight – eat less (decrease the calories we take in) and exercise more (increase the calories we expend) – are the very same things we’ll do if our purpose is to make ourselves hungry, to build up an appetite, to eat more. Now the existence of an obesity epidemic coincident with half a century of advice to eat less and exercise more begins to look less paradoxical.
Eating less and exercising more is an equation for hunger, not weight loss. When we get hungry, we get angry (at least I do), and when we get angry, we do stupid stuff (like those DIRECTV commercials). Our bodies are amazingly versatile, if we decrease energy intake, we develop lower total body energy requirements and ultimately begin to burn few calories.
I could go on and on about this, but we have four more points to cover. The title of the chapter which the above illustration comes from is “The Elusive Benefits of Exercise”. While exercise is important, a focus on the foods you eat is far more important in weight loss efforts.
2. Pills, Drugs, Cleanses, Starvation, Fasted Cardio, etc…– These are all short cuts and will do more harm than good.
Pills and drugs have crazy side effects and if you experience any weight loss when using them, it is likely water weight (because your body wants to get rid of the crap it will increase urination). From there, you’ll be burning muscle as your body will hang on to fat. Aside from this, just use common sense, people! Do you really think a few drops under your tongue is a healthy way to take on the day?
Cleanses, starvation, and fasted cardio again are attempts at dietary short cuts. We learned from Virgina Reed, one of the survivors of the Donner Party, that short cuts are a bad idea. We can healthily lose 1-1.5 pounds of fat per week, anything above this is water weight or muscle. Fasted cardio actually burns less fat than you’d burn if you were to eat a meal before working out. I don’t know many people who are interested in burning muscle…
3. Eat A High Protein Diet– I look to Barry Sears to explain this one. He talks about about the diets that suggest you, “Eat all of the protein you want and all of the fat you want, just cut back on the carbohydrates.” At first glance, these quick-loss programs look good. Almost everyone who tries them does lose weight at first. Unfortunately, those people are losing the wrong kind of weight, and for the wrong biological reasons. They enter a metabolic state known as ketosis where their bodies increase urination in order to rid the blood stream of ketone bodies. Ultimately, when there is excess protein in the bloodstream, your insulin levels rise because your body doesn’t know what to do with the excess amino acids (building blocks of protein) and you end up converting the excess protein into fat. Excess protein consumption causes even more problems, but we’ll have to save that discussion for another time… The answer is a healthy balance of proteins and carbohydrates.
4. Eat A Low Fat Diet– I’ve heard the term low-fat my whole life. In recent years I’ve learned that fat is my friend, especially when trying to lose weight. We must eat fat in order to lose fat, I know it is a crazy notion, but it’s true. Our country’s obsession with the low-fat diet began with Eisenhower’s heart attack on September 24th, 1955, which left the Oval Office empty for seven weeks. I won’t get into the details, but if you want to learn more about this, watch this video, which explains the start of low-fat foods laced with sugar. I don’t promote keybiotics in any way, but I do like the way they explain our predicament in the video.
5. “Go On” A Diet– At the end of the day, a temporary diet is a bad idea. Obesity profiteers like Weightwatchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystems, etc… love when people go on diets. They spend good money to see short term results and then when the weight loss stops and peoples’ lives suck because they are hungry all of the time, the profiteers blame the dieters because they all cheated a little bit. I mean, who has gone on a diet without cheating? The dieters blame themselves, eventually go off of the temporary diet and gain back more weight than they lost in the first place.
Oprah showed us best with her wagon full of fat, no? How is she doing now? I don’t mean to hate on Oprah, but it is very obvious that her weight loss was short lived. The last time I saw her was on TV for Lance Armstrong’s confession and the words lean, slim or trim wouldn’t have been my first to describe her…
The solution to an effective weight loss plan is to make small changes over time that will add up to a lasting, lifestyle change. Duck and dodge the obesity profiteers and avoid short cuts at all costs. Set your goals high and shoot for the stars. It takes time to gain weight and it will take time to lose it. As I said above, healthy weight loss occurs at a rate of 1-1.5 pounds per week.
Whether you are looking to lose weight or want to take your fitness to the next level by dialing in your diet, I’d love for you to consider me a resource. There is a lot of meat in the above five points and I do my best to pepper these concepts into all of my posts, videos and recipes.
Up next will be 7 Tips To Lose Weight The Healthy Way, so stay tuned…
In the meantime, educate yourself, make informed decisions, and “Keep It Paleo!”