Lets talk about The Calorie Myth!!!!
**For those of you who would rather watch then read, scroll dowwwwwwn. Video is below :)
I've had a lot of conversations this week, with a couple of different talks that I've been doing at some different businesses as well as with clients who’ve been working through on of my programs, and for some reason it keep coming back to this: "How many calories should I be having? Can’t I just cut calories?
I think that means that what I call The Calorie Myth it's still out there and it's going strong, so let's talk about it.
One school of thought in terms of nutrition and weight loss is that all we need to do to lose weight is eat less and exercise more. It's that old mantra that, "Calories in minus calories out is the key to weight loss. As long as we're taking in less than we're putting out then we're going to lose weight." Honestly, it's not true and we've known, the scientific community has known, that it's not true for almost a hundred years now, believe it or not.
Study after study after study after study shows us the same thing: if you take someone who is burning two thousand calories a day and eating two thousand calories a day, who wants to lose weight, and you take it down to them eating 1500 calories a day thinking that they will still burn two thousand calories a day, you would be wrong.
Yes, they may burn two thousand calories a day for the first little bit (early weight loss), but your body is really, really smart and it comes down to this: your body does not want to die. As ridiculous as that sounds, your body doesn't want to die and what's going to happen if you burn two thousand calories a day and you’re continually taking in 1500, eventually you’re going to run out of stored energy to make up the difference (fat), and you will die. That's what starvation is: putting out more than you're taking in. Your body is absolutely wired to prevent this from happening.
Your body will not let you get to that point I just described if food is still coming in, so it downregulates your metabolism. That means if you’re consistently taking in 1500 calories a day ayour body will find a way to use only 1500 calories a day. Boom. And it will keep doing that. That’s
Then you may try to cut it down to 1200 calories a day, so after a while it's going to only burn 1200 calories a day, and your digestion's going to be compromised along with other ‘background’ processes that need to happen all of the time, because not as much energy is going to all of these processes. Not a good thing!
A good example of this in real life is the big expose done on past contestants of The Biggest Loser a year or so ago. If you aren't a reality show super fan, a crew followed them all these years later and the majority of them had gained the weight back. They actually measured their metabolic rate and it was so low because what happens when you cut calories that drastically, which is what they did, your metabolism downregulates. It’s just science.
The worst part is that getting your metabolism back up is insanely difficult. So in losing all this weight, cutting calories and working out like crazy people, their metabolism downregulated so much that when they went back out into their everyday lives and they still maintained the diet, they still ate really well but couldn't devote six days a week to hardcore workouts (because, life), they couldn't burn enough energy in a day to keep their body weight consistent. This is why ultimately they were set up long term to fail.
This is why when you go on diet after diet, your metabolism gets completely f-ed, making it really hard to lose weight after a while. I see a lot of clients like this, where by the time they're in their 40s or 50s or even 60s, metabolism has downregulated so much through constant dieting and trying to use the, calories out, calories in equation to lose weight, that even if they barely eat anything they still maintain their weight.
That's not what I want for you guys, so I want to dispel The Calorie Myth right now. It is NOT about taking in less calories than you are putting out because your body will literally switch the equation and make it so you are now burning the same amount of calories as you are putting out. Got it? Let's totally put that to bed and talk about what actually will work instead of focusing on calories.
To lose fat and keep it off, there’s one thing to focus on and different ways to get there. The one thing to focus on is to focus on the hormonal state that your body needs to be in to burn fat. You can think of your body as basically having a one-way street. That one-way street is either storing energy or it's releasing stored energy (aka burning fat). You cannot be driving down both one way streets at the same time.
What dictates that hormonal state? The big thing we want to focus on is insulin. Your insulin is basically your fat storage hormone, and when insulin levels are chronically high, then you are chronically storing fat. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to actually burn fat no matter how little you're eating if your insulin levels are chronically high or constantly spiking.
That means that Insulin sensitivity and this constant high insulin is what we need to focus on when we're talking about losing weight. That's the key and to tackle fat loss from this angle, we need to understand the macronutrients because as you now know (from previous blog posts and videos, is that one of the key things that differentiates those macronutrients is how they digest and therefore how they affect insulin levels.
So number one, you can eliminate the processed simple carbohydrates that really spike insulin levels, and you can pay close attention to the more complex carbs to make sure you're not having too many of them. Focus on a much higher fat diet than you’re used to with moderate protein, and attempt to lose fat that way. This is lowering that baseline insulin level and actually allowing your body to move over from the fat storage mode over into fat burning mode.
Some people don't like to do that. They don't want to give up all of the carb-y goodness that is breads and bagels and all the things, and so another method that works really well is intermittent fasting. Instead of focusing on what you're eating, what you can do is make sure that there's always a significant time period in your day where insulin is going to be low. So, by going specific amounts of time without actually eating anything at all, you allow your insulin levels to go down. Over time you slowly decrease insulin insensitivity which is a good thing that will also allow your body to start burning stored fat for energy.
So you have two ways of doing it. You can focus on macros and making sure you're eating foods that don't spike insulin on the regular or you can use intermittent fasting and go specific amounts of time without eating anything. A common way to do this is to use the 16:8 method, where you eat all of your meals in an 8 hour window allowing you body 16 hours of fasting time per day.
This is exactly the opposite advice from so many ‘diets’ out there that tell you to have small meals all day long. This is so ridiculous becauseif you’re eating five, six, seven times a day (and usually eating high carb and things like 100 calorie snack packs), your insulin never drops. If you're eating that often, yes you're going to stabilize your blood sugar but you're going to stabilize it up high because your insulin's never going to really go down and your body never needs to tap into its stored fat.
In order for you to actually tap into the stored energy (aka fat), you need to stop snacking AND you need to keep insulin levels low by either reducing those processed carbs OR by going longer periods of time without eating.
Remember this scenario:
You go on a diet and you decide you're going to eat 500 less calories a day. You lose some weight and then you stop because your metabolism has compensated to account for your new diet, so now you're burning 500 calories LESS per day with the same amount of exercise. This is the point you plateau and stop losing weight. Normally, the reaction is to now cut calories more, and you might lose a couple more pounds, and then your body catches up to you again.
So this goes on and one and eventually you're going to start gaining weight eating less than you were when this whole diet started.
It's un-winnable. Diets are un-winnable (but you knew that already right?). At least now you know the reason you keep failing isn’t actually on you.
If you're trying to lose weight, have more energy, get fitter, whatever, don't pay attention to calories. Don't try to eat a certain amount of calories in a day, it doesn't do you any good. Pay attention to when you're eating. Pay attention to what you're eating. Pay attention to how much fat, how much protein. Make sure you're choosing the right foods. Stay away from the processed stuff that spikes your insulin. Pay attention to that and you'll start to see results.
If you've been dieting for a really long time, if this isn't your first rodeo and you do have a downregulated metabolism (because it happens so frequently) it just takes longer to see the results, so you have to really let go of the calorie mentality altogether and you have to trust that what I'm saying does actually work and it does make sense and you just have to do it. If you commit to it and you start doing that eventually you're going to start to results.
That’s it! Do you still have questions? Do you understand how macros fit into fat loss a bit better now? Do you want to get started?!
If so, sign up for my brand new FREE Challenge: The 5 Day Challenge To End Carb Cravings. It starts Monday July 11th, and every day for 5 days I’m going to teach you a new habit that will reduce your carb cravings and actually put you into the hormonal position to start fat loss. Sign up is below.