WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT AND GET HEALTHIER IN THE PROCESS? EAT MORE & EXERCISE LESS!
I’ll never forget it; I had a female patient who came to me and asked what she could do to lose that last “stubborn” 15 lbs. I asked her what she was currently doing. Her answer? She was walking 15 miles a day (and wanted to know if she needed to do more). As to her diet, she wasn’t watching it very closely, but wasn’t totally “JUNKING OUT” either. She was, however, trying to cut both calories and fat.
My suggestions to her were simple. I told her to cut back to no more than one hour of walking a day tops, add some simple resistance training with a ball and dumbells, along with kettlebell swings, core strengthening, and extension exercises (HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE) — maybe 10 to 15 minutes worth, three or four times a week, and to make sure to mix things up. I also told her that it was impossible to out-train the problems with her diet (I gave her one of my HANDOUTS). A few simple changes to what she was doing, and the changes in the way she looked and felt were not only amazing, they were noticeable almost immediately.
You see, people have been going about things incorrectly for so long that some of these things — I’VE REFERRED TO THEM IN THE PAST AS “MYTHS” — have become so ingrained in our collective psyches, they are acting like cerebral concrete. For instance, we count calories, when the truth is, at least in the Westernized world, calories alone have almost no bearing on one’s weight.
We look at those stupid ‘Calories Burned’ charts (one hour of walking burns 350 calories per hour; one hour of jogging burns 550 calories per hour; etc, etc) as if they have any link to reality. And maybe worst of all, we tend make our health all about our weight (in other words, as long as we are not “OVERWEIGHT” we like to think we are healthy — HERE). If you have struggles with your weight, whether you weigh too much or don’t weigh enough (don’t laugh — see the link before the last one), there is a simpler solution.
SIDE NOTE: Before I get to the meat of this post, I want to talk to those of you out there dealing with chronic conditions. These include things like HEART DISEASE, DIABETES, RA, THYROID PROBLEMS, STOMACH ACID, and a multitude of others. To get the same results as people without chronic conditions, it’s likely you’ll have to first address said problem(s). Although diet is certainly the cornerstone to getting these issues under control, there are any number of other things you might have to at least address, many of which have to do with Gut Health (HERE).
Eating more in order to lose weight is so counter-intuitive it sounds almost sacrilegious. However, for most of you it’s the one and only way you’ll really be able to maintain both your health and your weight for the rest of your life. Just understand that for many of you reading this, the very first thing you’ll have to do will be very difficult — you’ll have to come to grips with your SUGAR / CARB ADDICTION. Why? Because this particular problem is the number one reason people fail in their weight loss efforts.
Sugar and processed carbs have been repeatedly shown by peer-review to be every bit as addictive as hard drugs (HERE). This means that while there are some of you out there who are able to eat one or two bites of dessert and be fine with that, for the rest of us, we just poured gasoline on the fire.
It also means that you’ll have to figure out what foods you can eat more of, while avoiding those that ignite your cravings, fire up your endocrine system, or feed a DYSBOITIC GUT. You see, the number of calories you eat has very little meaning as far as either gaining weight or losing weight is concerned. It’s why I want you to stop thinking in terms of calories (read GARY TAUBES’ “Good Calories, Bad Calories“) and start thinking in terms of how your body biochemically and physiologically reacts to what you put in your mouth (HERE).
Figuring out what to eat is all about keeping both your immune system and endocrine system happy. When you eat foods that create immune system responses in the form of INFLAMMATION, there is a huge price to be paid. Never forget that obesity (along with ANY NUMBER OF OTHER HEALTH ISSUES), is known to be one of the many “inflammatory” diseases / problems.
This means that if you can solve your inflammation problem, you can probably start losing weight and increasing lean body mass, while getting healthy in the process. It also means that the very first thing you’ll need to do (along with conquering your sugar addiction) is figure out what foods, if any, are driving inflammation in your body.
For many of us GLUTEN is a problem. And wherever you see Gluten Sensitivity, you are likely to see DAIRY SENSITIVITIES as well (and vice versa). For some of you there may be issues with NIGHTSHADES or FODMAPS. For many of you, GRAINS in general (not only the gluten-containing grains) will prove problematic. Oh, and never forget that sugar is the most inflammatory thing that most of us consume on a regular basis (HERE).
Although some of you have done various sorts of LOW CARB DIETS with good results, I am of the opinion that if you have any sort of chronic health issue (including a struggle with your weight, either high or low) you need to do an ELIMINATION DIET. Because testing for food sensitivities can be both inaccurate and expensive, a better way to figure out whether you might have issues with certain foods being hidden sources of inflammation is to simply follow the link. The good thing is that if you do your Elimination Diet correctly the first time around, you won’t have to repeat it.
The last thing I want to talk about here is how controlling your ENDOCRINE SYSTEM is a key (if not the key) to losing weight, and why calories are, for the most part, meaningless. To understand this, all we need to do is look at a KETOGENIC DIET. Ketogenic diets are almost always both low carb and high fat. Because most of us CUT OUR TEETH listening to experts repeatedly warn about how terrible dietary fat was, it is still ingrained in many of us (it’s still a particularly serious problem within most of the medical community — HERE).
Your endocrine (hormonal) system has the potential to become fouled up from the foods you eat (some of it put into hyperdrive, while other parts burn out) — particularly the processed carbs and sugar (read THIS SHORT ARTICLE about soda to see how bad things currently are in America). With over half of our nation’s citizens coping with Diabetes or pre-diabetes (HERE), it is clear we have an epidemic on our hands. This is why it’s critical for you to realize that protein and fat have relatively little effect on your endocrine system.
Carbs on the other hand, have the potential to turn your endocrine system into a YO-YO. The fact that your body can’t tell the difference between a bagel and bag of Skittles (HERE) is one of the many reasons I am so high on the Paleo Diet for both chronically sick people or people dealing with CHRONIC PAIN.
And because the PALEO DIET is ultimately a diet based on “VEGETATION,” it does a good job of feeding your Gut the FIBER it needs to build and maintain it’s all-important MICROBIOBIOTA. If your diet is not helping in the GUT HEALTH DEPARTMENT, you are probably eating the wrong foods. The beautiful thing about all of this is that as long as you are eating the right things, you can eat until you are full and still lose weight. Quick note: many of you need to grasp the metabolic difference between fruits and vegetables (HERE).
First off, exercising less doesn’t mean to stop exercising, Nor does it mean that if you are currently not exercising, you need to not exercise even more. Truthfully, I could’ve easily labeled this section “Creating a Sustainable Exercise Lifestyle”. What I find is that people tend to create elaborate exercise plans (OFTEN ON JANUARY 1ST) that they cannot stay with for very long, oftentimes due to their length. My rule of thumb is that for most of us, our workout should not take more than 45 minutes, and in many cases, half of that (Cross Fit has any number of workouts that are under 15 minutes).
Back in the 1970’s, the inventor of Nautilus Gym Equipment (the eccentric Arthur Jones, whose son Gary founded the Hammer Strength line of equipment) brought the idea of MED as it pertains to exercise to the mainstream. MED stands for Minimum Effective Dose and basically means that any amount of exercise you are doing beyond optimal, is not doing you any favors. It kind of went along with Joe Weider’s constant warnings back in the early days of Muscle & Fitness not to overtrain, as it would actually make you lose lean body mass.
MED has been likened to what it takes to get a good sun tan. If it takes a certain amount of time in the sun for you to get a tan, any amount over that is not good because it will cause various degrees of burning. In other words, the whole I’m-going-to-go-out-and-fry-myself-and-let-it-turn-into-a-tan thing is neither effective nor healthy.
Although the science as far as exercise can be all over the place, it’s clear on this issue. Long, slogging, workouts are not optimal — even ULTRA-MARATHONERS are adding explosive strength training (deadlifts, squats, kettlebells, power cleans, etc) to their training. They are also cutting back on “jogging” and doing more sprints (HERE). Protracted exercise is also related to LEAKY GUT SYNDROME — a hallmark of chronic illness (obesity included much of the time).
For many of you — especially those of you dealing with chronic debilitating pain or illnesses — your ability to exercise may be extremely limited. Walking is always a fantastic option (stay off the CONCRETE when possible), as are things like yoga, Pilates, swimming (or water workouts of some sort), light weights on an exercise ball (HERE), or any number of others (for some of you, REBOUNDING can be awesome). Even getting on a WBV UNIT can provide some real benefit for many of you (I’m a huge fan).
The thing I want you to walk away with here is that while exercise is unarguably important, it is far less important than diet when it comes to weight loss. Case in point is a patient who lost 100 lbs in 7-8 months using nothing other than a strict Paleo Diet and a bit of walking (she also “cured” herself of five different autoimmune diseases in the process — HERE).
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