The 7 Deadly Sins of Weight Loss
These Seven Common Beliefs and Catchphrases Are Not Only KEEPING You From Losing Weight, They May Be CAUSING You To Get Heavier…
Losing weight, and keeping it off, should be an effortless and easy endeavour.
There are so many myths and fallacies, however, about when to eat, how to eat, and what to eat, we often unknowingly derail our own efforts.
It is easy to be confused — health care professionals regularly engage in diet wars, the science is confusing, and the marketing geniuses tell you “low fat is good for you”.
So we eat more often than we should, we overfeed outselves the wrong types of food, and we think jumping on a treadmill will eradicate our eating sins.
In this article I want to go over some surprisingly common mistakes we all have made (myself included), and what to do about it.
How many of these have you made?
1. ”Eat Less, Move More”
“Throughout my life, I have tried to share my belief that getting and staying healthy doesn’t have to feel like work. My life is not about deprivation; I don’t diet or slave away in a gym. What I do is eat clean, nutritious, real food. I enjoy delicious meals with healthy fats, I eat until I am full and satisfied, and I remain thin.” — Suzanne Somers
One of the failings of the weight loss industry at large is this persistent myth that in order to lose weight, you need to eat ‘less’ calories.
When calories are restricted and you eat less, what actually happens is that your metabolism also goes down, making you far more susceptible to gain weight.
This study looked at caloric restriction — one group eating 30% less over the course of 11 years than the other. What they found was resting metabolic rate for the 30% less calories group was also reduced by 13% over that time.
What this means is that the people who ate less, actually slowed down their metabolism.
Plus — they ate 30% less calories for 11 years!
First — this is my worst nightmare. 11 years with a 1/3 less calories? Pass the avocado and no thanks.
Second — the reduced metabolism is the exact opposite of what we want when trying to lose weight.
The slower your metabolism, the more difficult it is to lose weight.
This is one of the biggest failings of health initiatives and recommendations.
We have all been told we need to eat less, calorie restrict, and basically suffer if we want to lose weight.
This has been the recommendation for decades by doctors, weight loss clinics that are “medically supervised”, and any superficial, preliminary search on weight loss on the internets.
Eating less makes your metabolism tank, and makes you more susceptible to weight gain.
Guys — lets put the nail in the coffin of this one. Eating less does NADA for your weight loss efforts in the long term.
2. “Eat 5–6 Meals A Day”
“In our fast-forward culture, we have lost the art of eating well. Food is often little more than fuel to pour down the hatch while doing other stuff — surfing the Web, driving, walking along the street. Dining al desko is now the norm in many workplaces. All of this speed takes a toll. Obesity, eating disorders and poor nutrition are rife.” — Carl Honore
This one is amusing.
Let’s stop and think this one through.
You want to burn fat…so…you should eat 2-3 times more often…and that will somehow rev up your metabolism and help you lose weight.
Does this make any sense?
Let’s pretend you needed to take blood work for some reason. For the sake of this example, 6 viles of blood were required.
Would you sit down, have the nurse apply the tourniquet, insert the needle, only to draw one vile and then stop? Clean yourself up, get up, come back 2 hours later to do the next one? Repeating this process 3 more times?
Or would you sit down, have the full amount of blood taken in one go?
This is the same non linear logic that people apply when eating 6 times in a day.
Eating this often is laborious, requires an extraordinary amount of restraint to keep portion sizes accurate (assuming you are going for a 3 meals, 2 snacks ideology), and keeps your insulin jacked most of the day.
(Insulin is your fat-storage hormone — if it is elevated, that means your body is pushing sugar into your cells and you are storing fat.)
Even when you account for the energetic expenditure to digest food, this still makes no sense.
This eating pattern correlates well with obesity trends, though.
In the 1950’s and 60’s, you ate 3 square meals a day. No snacking.
The average female today weighs 166.2lbs — the same weight an average male weighed in the 1960's.
Eating (slightly) larger meals, less often is a far more efficient way to eat.
It allows for digestive rest and repair, and if you are eating a higher fat, low carbohydrate diet, you will keep your insulin levels low.
3. “Eat More Protein”
“It’s true, you can lose weight on these high-animal-protein diets, but you’re mortgaging your health in the process.” — Dean Ornish
Unless you are a bodybuilder, you don’t need to be eating a high protein diet.
Consuming excess protein can cause as much insulin release as eating carbohydrates…and often more so.
Take a look at this insulin index of foods.
What we see is high protein foods are just as, if not more insulin stimulating than high carbohydrate foods, calorie for calorie.
For example, beef and fish release just as much insulin as brown rice. Cheese releases more insulin per calorie than white pasta.
Now the reason, in real time, why we do not see high blood sugar after consuming protein is because of a hormone called ‘glucagon’.
Glucagon is like the antithesis of insulin.
Consuming a high-protein-only meal will stimulate both insulin AND glucagon, and their effects do essentially cancel each other out — but only as it pertains to blood glucose levels following a protein only meal.
In other words, eating a high protein diet will not allow for fat to breakdown and be used as energy…which is the goal with weight loss.
Science Alert — There are other mechanisms suggested as to why some have been able to achieve initial weight loss on a high protein diet (such as increased leucine acting on mTOR and AMPK pathways in the hypothalamus) but it doesn’t explain the whole picture, and it doesn’t take into consideration longevity, and aging.
I have written about how a high protein diet prematurely age us through activation of mTOR here.
In other words, eating a high protein meal (if you are not a bodybuilder) is setting you up for premature aging, and even some of the biomarkers of Metabolic syndrome — the cluster of conditions that increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
4. “Breakfast Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day”
“What I don’t like is breakfast in the morning. I have a double-espresso, but no food.” — Wolfgang Puck
We have been told over and over again that we need to eat almost immediately after we wake up…
…that ‘breakfast’ is starting the day off right.
The truth is — when we first wake up — we are already in a fasted state (ie — fat burning).
So when you wake up, it is perfectly alright, dare I say, encouraged, for you to eat when AND ONLY WHEN you feel hungry.
Not just because you woke up, but because you are legit hungry.
Drink a tall glass of water when you wake up, and check in afterwards to see if you are actually “hungry”.
Feelings of hunger and thirst are almost identical and often confused with each other.
You’ll probably find “hunger” was masking as thirst. And we should be drinking liquid to rehydrate when we first wake up.
The most important meal of the day is not breakfast. Rather, when you break your fast.
(See what I did there?)
A daily intermittent fast, wherein your eating window is anywhere between 8 and 12 hours allows for your digestive system to repair, bring down inflammation, and truly tap into your fat stores for energy.
5. “You *Need* A Protein Shake Right After Your Workout”
“If your diet is dialed in, you can train in a pretty subpar manner and still get passable results. On the other hand, if your training is fantastic but your diet is crap, you have a harder road ahead of you.” — John Romaniello
Well, the one thing I think we can agree on, is that you definitely need more water.
Before, during, and after your workout.
A shake, however, is not necessary for weight loss or to “replenish” post workout.
At the end of your workout, you have likely depleted a good amount of glycogen stores from your muscles and your liver.
You body, post workout, is closer to a state of ketosis than you are at any point in the day (other than waking up).
Science Alert — Ketosis is when we are tapping into fat stores, and breaking down fat into fatty acids and glycerol. The fatty acids are metabolized into ketone bodies, and the glycerol can be made into glucose if need be.
So…what happens immediately after drinking a shake is an insulin spike (from both the protein and carbohydrates),you are kicked out of that ketogenic state, lipolysis stops and digestion can begin.
If you are already eating a balanced diet, you really do not need that post workout shake.
6. “Fasting Is Bad For You”
“The philosophy of fasting calls upon us to know ourselves, to master ourselves, and to discipline ourselves the better to free ourselves. To fast is to identify our dependencies, and free ourselves from them.” — Tariq Ramadan
Fasting has been a regular part of our history.
Literally for thousands of years, humans have fasted.
Just look at a these famous examples of fasting — Christians fast during Lent, Muslims for Ramadan, Buddhist Monks fast regularly as well.
Even today, you have practiced some sort of fasting, most likely when you have interacted with you medical doctor.
We fast when we need to do blood work, prior to surgery or dental work.
The issue is, we tend to only fast for these (very) few events. It is not a part of our daily, or weekly habits.
Fasting has such powerful benefits, it is something that should be part of your weekly regimen!
The benefits are too big to ignore, and if you are not fasting on a regular basis you are missing out on the amazing benefits it has on your brain and body.
There are several different ways to fast — from short daily fasts, longer multiple day fasts, and longer weekly fasts.
In a fasted state will make your metabolism goes UP.
Meaning, when you are fasting you are burning even more calories. MORE, not less.
7. “Eating ‘Fat’ Makes You Fat”
“The best diet for overall health, and specifically for heart, brain, and cancer risk reduction, is a diet that’s aggressively low in carbohydrates with an abundance of healthful fat.“ — David Perlmutter
Another important study, The Women’s Health Initiative study, followed women over the course of 7.5 years.
They put the women into 2 groups:
- Those who decreased their fat intake for 7.5 years
- Thos who just given educational materials, but did not change their fat intake.
At the end of the study, there was less than 1 lb difference between the group that restricted their fat calories, and the control.
I had to reread the results multiple times — 7.5 years. Less than a pound.
Decreasing fat intake has negligible, if any effects on weight loss in the short and long term.
Conversely, a properly formulated high fat, plant based carbohydrate diet has been shown to help reduce adiposity, reverse insulin resistance, and help with the clinical presentation of Type 2 Diabetes , and cancer in many studies.
For my patients and clients, I highly recommend a combination of intermittent fasting (eating 1–2 large meals a day and fasting for the rest of the time), mixed with a ‘clean’ ketogenic protocol of high quality fats, moderate proteins, and plant based carbohydrates.
Following this process can help not only burn the excess fat, but keep it off for good.
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