“I just ate a 200 calories cookie, this means I’d have to go for a 30 minutes jog, at 65% of my max BPM to burn it all”. Does this sound like something you might be telling yourself? Are you still doing that? Oh Geez… You need a high five – in the face – with a chair… (I’ve always wanted to use that expression…!). Alright, maybe not with a chair, but you do need a serious wake up call.
Just so we are all on the same page : if losing weight (especially keeping the weight off) was about doing the simple math of “calories in” minus “calories out”, the entire world would be thin, even the ones that never passed a math test. “Calories in/calories out” is one of these very stubborn myths that somehow owned their places on “the myth pyramid” (alongside with low-fat diets) and that is hard to put back where it belongs (the trash). The obesity rate in the US is at 50%, that alone should rase red flags about how stupid and false this myth is. Don’t get me wrong, it does play a role, but only to a certain extend, not to the notoriety it has given countless of stupid diets.
Usually, the majority of the people already know it, but only when it suits them. No need to be an expert in nutrition to know that if you eat an avocado (about 200 calories), it will be better than a cookie (about 200 calories), and yet, so many use that excuse all-the-time! “Oh that’s only 200 calories”. C’mon guys, you know better!
Here are a of couple things you might not know though. Whether you decide to go with the avocado (or any other whole food for that matter), or the cookie:
- The hormonal response will be different. One will spike insulin, which job is to get rid of the sugar in the blood. After the insulin did its job to regulate blood sugar, the blood sugar will drop, and therefore make you hungry again (vicious circle).
- The cookie, bag of chips, or any other things with a list of ingredients that are harder to pronounce than the Ikea furniture names, are empty calories. Your body cannot utilize them to your benefits. They are just randomly passing through your digestive system, messing up with your hormones and harming your gut. You’ll still be hungry after ten bags of chips, because your body hasn’t been able to absorb any nutrients from these crappy foods. Therefore, the hormonal responses in that instance are : “keep eating, I’m not receiving anything that I can work with”.
If you decide to actually follow a calories in/calories out diet, the real question is not “Are you going to lose weight” (because you are), but:
- Is it actually healthy? (hint : Nope)
- Is it sustainable? (hint : Nope)
- How much time before you put on double of what you lost? (hint: Until another trendy Instagram diet).
The major problem with the calorie counting non-sense, is that, if you have some amazing self-control and will power, it will work and fast. Now that you’re all super confused, let me explain. Once again, it doesn’t take a genius to understand that if you’re eating 500 calories/day, and running 10 miles/day, you are going to lose weight. Two majors problems that come with that : not sustainable (guess what: we need to eat, we were designed to eat. Have you ever seen an animal on a diet?), and it is not healthy. Hello nutrient deficiency, hormone imbalances, slow metabolism, and horrible sleep. Sick, sleep deprived, irritable, soft and squishy, but thin. Sounds L-O-V-E-L-Y!
Losing weight by cutting calories sets you up for failure!
We have in our body the best fat burning machine : muscles! Here is the thing though, when we lose weight by just cutting calories (and doing a shitload of cardio), we lose our muscles. Check this out :
- For 10 lbs of weight loss : seven pounds is fat, three pounds is muscle
- For 10 lbs of weight re-gained : nine pounds is fat, one pound is muscle
=> this is an endless vicious circle, most commonly known as “Yo-Yo dieting“. Sure some of you have experienced that.
But of course, it today’s society, only the scale can have the last word, and since we want the number to go down, we’re willing to put our health at risk… In a perfect world, people would pay more attention at how their favorite jeans have been fitting lately, rather than some numbers that will never satisfy them anyways.
My point is : forget about the scale for minute (or a lifetime), and focus on perfecting your fat burning machine. Added bonus : the more muscle you have, the more insulin sensitive you become => most of the glucose receptors are on our muscles. Think about it like this, the more muscles, the more glucose receptors, the more insulin is able to do its job, and the less sugar is going to get stored in fat cells! Following so far? Insulin is the KEY hormone when it comes to weight management, NOT the amount of calories you ate for lunch. Not all calories are created equals.
Nutrients deficiency leads to overeating and poor food choices!
Another reason why calorie counting will only take you so far: food is information (if I haven’t said this a trillion times, I’ve never said it), please, read this again, and again! Food is information that the body needs in order to function. With the Standard American Diet (the SAD diet), our body is bombarded with empty calories. It’s basically like receiving information in a language you don’t understand, if the communication inside us isn’t efficient, it’s the highway to troubles. On top of it, non of our actual needs are being met in terms of nutrition (vitamins, minerals, amino acids,…), which leads to never being satiated despite the thousands of calories we may have been eating. Consequences of this are overeating and nutrients deficiency (to name just a few). Nice combo… It explains why destroying a whole bucket of Garret’s caramel popcorns is hardly a challenge, but we can barely get through two avocados without feeling full. Note that, as I previously mentioned, we can be thin and in terrible health! Our body weight is somewhat a health indicator, but far from being the only one. That’s another myth that made it the top of the pyramid… “the number on the scale is small, I am therefore healthy” – you might be thin, but have a body full of crap!
What do to about it?
Do you want to lose weight? That’s not that hard, and as Dr Mark Hyman always says “I can’t believe I’m being paid so much money to tell people to eat whole foods and cut back on sugar!“. Well that’s basically it. Eat whole foods, avoid sugar, avoid processed food. By doing that, you will nourish your body, keep your hormone balanced (hey girls, this also means “Bye bye PMS!”), get over the afternoon crash, have more brain clarity, be more focused, get better sleep, fit in your favorite jeans, become a hot piece of ass (did I take it too far?), and more importantly : keep it that way! You will be that person that looks at the latest trendy diet with the satisfaction that these diet days are behind you. If you want to get fancy and count your macros, eat for your workout, and so on, please be my guest, but no need to do any of this if you actually learn how to listen to your body. Listen to your cravings, understand what they mean (girls, if you are craving strawberries it does not automatically means that you are pregnant!).
Here are a few tips to helps you :
- Quality over quantity. No need to count calories when you get that right;
- Focus on whole foods (meaning, did it grow in/on the earth);
- Even better if it’s organic (so many craps and GMOs, might as well have McDonald);
- Focus on foods that do not have a label;
- If it does have a label, have a look at the ingredients. If there are more than five ingredients that you can’t pronounce, it has no business being in your body;
- Avoid anything with a “Healthy” label on it (if it’s really healthy, it doesn’t need a label. When was the last time you saw a “healthy” label on a cucumber?);
- If you eat meat and/or seafood : grass-fed, organic, without hormone/antibiotic. Fish must be wild caught;
- No hydrogenated oils (here is why);
- Stay in the perimeter of the super market (crappy stuff are usually inside).
If you just do these things, you will experience a bunch of very well deserved compliments over the next few months. But don’t believe me, try it for yourself!
And if you liked this article, or if you think it can benefit someone you know, feel free to share the love!
Bisous, Bye Bye!