It’s way more complicated than “counting calories”…

…especially if you’re still eating crap food.

I get so irritated when I hear people discussing the number of calories in their breakfast sandwich, on an english muffin…Then they go on to say, “well, if we added a hash brown that’s only 300 more calories, but it’s all from fat”…wtf!?!? Let’s stop glossing over things here. There’s definitely a lot more going on physiologically than meets the eye.

First off, if you’re trying to lose fat mass, you definitely should be eating less. But you can’t simply go on the interblogz, hypernetz, world-wide-net-whatever, and use some magical calculator to decide for you how many calories you need. Your body does not utilize calories in the same manner as someone else identical to your age, weight and body composition. That traditional approach is way over simplified.

You have to account for your current condition. Do you have insulin resistance or other hormone resistance? Do you have chronic stress? What’s your activity level? Do you have thyroid issues, or systemmic inflammation? If so, what’s the level of inflammation at the hypothalamus? (Well, it’s impossible to tell unless we take it outta your brain, but you’ll then be dead, and that’s the most permanent weight loss of all…). Trouble is, it’s difficult or impossible to measure all of these things and come to a conclusion about how it affects the calories you eat.

The hypothalamus is very important. It controls everything about regulating fat mass. It manages your hormones for hunger and satiety, insulin, ghrelin, leptin, you name it. It also controls how your body responds to calories, and how much energy you actually absorb from the food you eat. It even controls the speed of your metabolism. Now, throw off the hypothalamus with some systemmic inflammation, and whammo, we have the perfect recipe for fat-ass syndrome!

So what’s the easiest way to eat less? That’s easy: eat only nutrient dense, high quality whole foods that are unprocessed and unadulterated. That means plenty of healthy fats from whole food sources like coconut, olives, avocados, 100% grass fed beef, 100% grass fed dairy, game animals, or whole eggs from free range fed hens. Along with that you’ll be sure to get all the fat soluble minerals you need to stay full for longer periods of time. You’ll also be getting just the right amount of protein to help keep you sated. Along with that, get lots and lots of high quality vegetables, of all colors shapes and sizes, for their wonderful antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals too!

The brialliant thing about avoiding all the industialized processed crap, and nutrient-void “foods” like grains and sugar, is that it allows your body to auto-correct. It eliminates all the exogenous dietary sources of chronic inflammation that throw off your body’s regulating mechanisms.

Veggie oils – Cause inflammation via oxidation. They break down (oxidize) super easy because these fats are highly polyunsaturated. Polyunsaturated fat contains two or more pairs of double bonds without hydrogen atoms occupying the open space, and it’s the carbon that lies between the double bonds that is wide open to oxidation. All it takes is a little heat or a little time, and poof, oxidized lipid! If you eat out a lot, or cook with canola oil etc, I guarantee you are getting a giant surplus of oxidized lipids floating around wreaking havoc on your body.

Grains – Contain little to no beneficial nutrients, and cause systemmic inflammation via gluten, lecins, phytates, and a host of other anti-nutrients that pass through the gut into general circulation. Not only do you take in a bunch of empty calories, but once your body realizes there’s nothing of value in there, you get hungry soon after.

Sugar – Same deal as grains. Added sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, dehydrated-whatever solids, bleh. Empty calories, insulin surge, stresses they body’s natural regulating mechanisms, systemmic inflammation, unhappy hypothalamus, fat-fat-fattie.

…There’s a lot of other “foods” I haven’t discussed, but these are the main ones to look out for.

Now, assuming all that inflammation has been corrected, and you’re on your way to a healthier, happier you, it’s time to talk about those calories again.

It does matter how much you eat, because bottom line is, if you eat too much, your thrifty hunter-gatherer genes will tend to store the extra energy as fat for later use. Still, trying to actually count is pretty useless, because even when all your systems are back to normal and you’ve minimized systemmic inflammation, your individual calorie needs will still differ from everyone else’s. It’s literally impossible to tell exactly how much energy you individually absorb from any given meal, and it changes all the time based on your state of metabolism and activity level, nutrient needs, etc. Again, the hypothalamus regualtes all this stuff. In a healthy human it speeds up or slows down metabolism, and changes how much you absorb from food consantly depending on how much you eat, need, move, etc.

So how can you lose fat mass, not count calories, and not eat too much? For the most part, listening to your body is the best way. When you are truly hungry, and not just bored or stressed out, eat a nutrient dense, complete meal of whole natural foods complete with plenty of fat, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Think about this: have you ever tried to eat more than 4 whole eggs in one sitting? It’s not that easy, not many calories, it fills you up super quick, and it keeps you full for a long long time. It’s even more filling when it’s cooked with lots of grass fed butter and a couple strips of pasture raised bacon! I can tell you, anecdotally, any day of the week I eat a meal like this, I am full for the entire day. This includes the weekeneds when I am most active in the garage or walking around downtown. No joke. But it makes a ton of sense, right?

Had I combined that same meal with some english muffins, I would easily get hungry a few hours later. It most likely has to do with the phytic acid in the grains binding up many of the nutrients in my gut, making them just get pooped out later on. Im sure the glucose-rush doesn’t help either, flooding my body with insulin. The subsequent drop in blood glucose after the insulin surge stimulates hunger, as it acts in concert with your other hunger regulating hormones. If I did this every day, I might develop leaky-gut due to gluten and lectins. Lectins would be passing through the gut into circulation, binding to other organs causing dysregulation and systemmic inflammation, eventually reaching my hypothalamus, where the long term fat-gain really starts getting revved up. What a vicious cycle!

So yah, calories matter, but it has nothing to do with the government guidelines, which are likely way too high anyway, since they are probably based on the “needs” of a metabolically disregulated McAmerican population.

I’d say don’t bother counting too carefully. There are a lot of other factors that play into this that I won’t get into here. You can read this fantastic article over at Mark’s Daily Apple, about listening to your body, and when it might not always work.

~ Dan

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Big caloric deficits and high activity levels don’t work for fat loss.

I’m going to share a couple case studies I came across to illustrate an important point, that having a large energy deficit and a very high activity level is a recipe for failure. There’s also plenty of evidence here that cardio itself doesn’t help fat loss either…

The first example is common. This study was also discussed in great detail by Lyle McDonald. A woman began marathon training sessions with a reported low-calorie diet, and instead of losing weight, either maintained it or gained more. Her metabolic rate was also below normal.

Once diet was corrected and energy intake was increased gradually, her BMI came down and her metabolic rate increased.

That said, I’ve mentioned in previous articles that one oddity that I’ve seen (and personally experienced) over the years is one where the combination of very large caloric deficits and very large amounts of activity (especially higher-intensity activity) can cause problems for people either stalling or slowing fat loss.

The second example regards a young man trying to drop fat rapidly in order to pass a Navy diving exam and increase endurance capacity. You can read the full discussion by Jamie Scott here. He had a very high training regimen that included Crossfit, fasted training, lots of glycolitic work.

Once he dropped the activity level down substantially, and began comsuming more food, fat loss and energy levels improved rapidly.

Just a quick message to say the article is great. The fat is falling off me like it never actually has before and I’m feeling fuelled for every workout. I honestly can’t thank you enough. Coconut milk and cream have become my new best friends and I am talking everyone’s ears off at the gym with how good they are. I will keep in touch with the progress as I think something a bit crazy (good crazy) might be happening here, exciting.

So what’s going on here? We have a young man and an older woman, both trying to lose fat rapidly, following the conventional wisdom of eating less and jacking activity levels up, but they are moving backwards in terms of progress!

One important factor here is cortisol. It’s a stress hormone released by the body in response to pretty much all kinds of stress. Even though we hear a lot about it in the fitness world and it gets a bad rep, it’s really a necessary component of a healthy functioning body. Acute pulses can tend to be beneficial and cause adaptive changes, but chronic elevated cortisol levels start to become problematic.

For example, the morning cortisol pulse helps to promote fat mobilization.  In contrast, a chronic elevation of cortisol (especially in the face of high insulin levels) tend to promote visceral fat accumulation.  As a non-fitness related topic, acute pulses of cortisol tend to be good for memory (why we often remember stressful situations in such detail) while chronic elevations (as often seen in depression) make memory go down the toilet.  And there are endless other examples of where acute cortisol pulses are good and chronic elevations are bad; again see Sapolsky’s book for details.

In any case, dieting in general is a stress.  And of course training is a stress.  And the more extreme you do of each, the more of a stress occurs.  And I suspect that a lot of what is going on when folks try to combine excessive caloric deficits with massive amounts of activity is that cortisol just goes through the roof (there’s another issue I’ll come back to at the end that relates to this).  Simply, you get these massive chronic elevations in cortisol levels.

Tangentially, this is also one reason I suspect that various types of cyclical dieting help with some of this issue.  For at least brief periods, when calories are raised to maintenance or above, you break the diet/training induced elevations in cortisol.  This of course assumes that the person isn’t mentally stressed to the nines by raising calories like that but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Lyle, I couldn’t have put it better myself. Other things are also negatively affected by chronic cortisol production. It can cause water retention, leptin resistance in the brain, and even lower your metabolic rate. One study revealed that only 6 hours of cardio per week, combined with a “diet”, caused a larger decrease in metabolic rate than the “diet” alone! I don’t even approach that in my own training, but I’m sure most people who are addicted to cardio can easily go above and beyond that 6 hours.

In any case, there are several different plausible mechanisms by which the combination of excessive caloric deficits an large amounts of activity can cause problems.  Whether it’s simply cortisol related water retention, a drop in metabolic rate due to leptin resistance or something else, something is going on.  From a more practical standpoint, for a lot of people, the combination simply doesn’t work.  Mind you, some seem to get away with it but not all.

Now if we go back to the young man’s case. Let’s take a look at what he was eating.

Let’s put some numbers around this.  This is the approximate breakdown of this gentleman’s daily intake;

  • Energy: 1732 kcal
  • Protein: 162.5g
  • Carbs: 129.2g
  • Fat: 67.8g

And here was the workout regimen he was using.

4 x week run as per Crossfit Endurance – 1 x short intervals (10×400 usually), 1 x long intervals (6-8km of 200,400,800,1000 at 10k/5k race pace), 1 x stamina (2.4,4,5,10k TT) and 10×100 sprints/4×500 hill sprints alternated each week.

3 strength sessions – 5×5 Back squat and bench, 5×5 front squat and press, 5-5-5-3-3-1 deadlift

5 or 6 CF wods as per my box or something via sealfit/military athlete wods.

Swim twice a week, 1 x intervals and 1 long for recovery.

Ride the road bike 10k round trip to the box.

Rest Thursday AM and Sundays.

Usually do endurance workout in AM, Strength/WOD in PM.  I also add in specific training for my pushup/situp/pullup as required by the navy gig.

Wow. Simply not enough energy consumed to fuel all that activity! No wonder he was feeling worn out constantly, and his fat loss was stalled completely!

Edit 4/18/12: Here is one more example from Mark’s Daily Apple. It’s a success story of a marathon runner who continued to put on steady body fat, and never was able to lose it even while training for a London marathon. He was following the conventional wisdom of eating and training which included lots of cardio. Again, a perfect example of how cardio does not help you lose fat.

I’m not going to go into much more detail here. You can check out both of those discussions I linked to on your own. But basically there are some lessons to be learned from all this.

  • Fasted training and intermittent fasting has their place, but to reap the benefits you have to have plenty of food during your feeding window to meet your activity requirements. This allows a slight energy excess for training, while giving an energy deficit for fat loss during the fasted phase. Once you get down to very lean levels (roughly 10% for men and 14% for women) a slight energy deficit will work to slowly get you down to single digit bodyfat.
  • If you’re in a rush to lower BMI before some deadline, you are more likely to default to some conventional wisdom crap that will have you wasting time on a treadmill in the futile pursuit of less body fat.
  • The combination of major energy deficits and very high activity will set you backwards in terms of fat loss goals, and will waste a lot of time! It hurts rather than helps.
  • You can either cut energy intake hard, or increase activity levels hard, but you CAN’T do both. Your body will resist.
  • Some people (rarely) can get away with doing both. But they’re just lucky.
  • For most of us, fat loss and fitness goals can be met with the proper types of foods, and a relatively moderate activity level. (I mean lifting HEAAAVY things once in a while, and running really really fast every now and then) Once you are eating right and doing the right activity every once in a while to make your body adapt properly, your body will take care of the rest.

This is why I so strongly suggested AGAINST the inclusion of much cardio in The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook; it causes more harm than good.  Invariably, the biggest source of failure on that plan is when people ignore my advice and try to do a bunch of cardio.  And fat loss stops.

In any case, there are several different plausible mechanisms by which the combination of excessive caloric deficits an large amounts of activity can cause problems.  Whether it’s simply cortisol related water retention, a drop in metabolic rate due to leptin resistance or something else, something is going on.  From a more practical standpoint, for a lot of people, the combination simply doesn’t work. 

Thanks, Lyle, for that beautiful wrap-up.

You might also like to read: Cardio is for dummies, Thoughts in HIIT, Stretching is for dummies

Like this post? Want to find out more about how to get in shape fast? Check out these articles about getting in shape, feeling great, and controlling your genes!

Lower bodyfat setpoint.

Lose stubborn body fat. (Intermittent fasting)

Control your gene expression.

Heavy strength training is a required aspect of long term health. For everybody.

How to train your body to burn fat all day long. High intensity interval training (HIIT).

Why you should avoid too many polyunsaturated fats.

What is chronic inflammation. What to eat to avoid it.

The final word on grains and legumes: AVOID them.

The final word on Saturated fat and Cholesterol: EAT them

Why do we overeat? Why do we ever stop eating?

I’m going to use some summary quotes from a series at Gnolls.org about hunger and satiety signals. I just wanted to get some general points across that I have been talking about for some time now, and these bullet points pretty much sum it up perfectly. They relate nicely to my points about nutrient density, and your body’s ability to regulate it’s own nutrient and hunger needs if you allow it. (Check out my archives for more.)

Introductory points

  • Hunger is not a singular motivation: it is the interaction of several different clinically measurable, provably distinct mental and physical processes.
  • In a properly functioning human animal, likes and wants coincide; satiation is an accurate predictor of satiety; and the combination of hunger signals (likes and wants) and satisfaction signals (satiation and satiety) results in energy and nutrient balance at a healthy weight and body composition.
  • Restrained eating requires the exercise of willpower to override likes, wants, and the lack of satiation or satiety; the exercise of willpower uses energy and causes stress; and stress makes you eat more. Therefore, a successful diet must minimize the role of willpower.
  • A lack of satiety will leave us hungry no matter what else we do to compensate. We fail to achieve satiety by not ingesting (or not absorbing) the energy and/or nutrients our body requires, and by an inability to retrieve the energy and/or nutrients our bodies have stored due to mitochondrial dysfunction.
  • Satiation is an estimate of future satiety based on sensory input. As with satiety, we fail to achieve it by not satisfying our nutritional needs. We can also bypass satiation by decreasing sensory exposure to our foods. Some common enablers are eating quickly, eating while distracted or on the run, and eating calorie-dense packaged and prepared foods.
  • The role of reward in hunger constitutes hedonic impact (“liking”, palatability) and incentive salience (“wanting”, the drive to consume more food). The process of learning modifies both. Furthermore, reward is not limited to food, is neither static nor an intrinsic property of the food itself, and is modified by many experiences besides its taste during the act of consumption.

Conclusion Points

  • Reward systems drive all our behaviors, not just our food preferences.
  • Liking and wanting don’t exist just to make us fat: they exist to keep us alive.They are the product of millions of years of natural selection, during which animals that didn’t have our tastes died out and were replaced by those that did.
  • Liking and wanting are values we assign to food, not invariant or intrinsic properties of the food itself.
  • The modulation of reward (liking and wanting) does not require taste at all.
  • Incentive salience (“wanting”) is a product of hedonic reward (“liking”), satiation, and satiety.
  • Eating food you like may either decrease or increase your want for more, depending on the food, the circumstances, and whose studies you believe.
  • Palatability can affect satiation, either via nutritional satiation or “sensory-specific satiety”, but it does not affect satiety.
  • Hyperpalatability is an unnatural amount of hedonic reward, combined with an inability to produce satiation or satiety. Therefore, the worse a snack food is for you, the more difficult it usually is to stop eating. 
  • Conclusion: in order to keep incentive salience (“wanting”) under control, make sure that hedonic impact (“liking”) is always accompanied by nutrition. Eat delicious but nutritionally dense foods, containing complete protein, healthy fats, and ample nutrients. Otherwise you’re eating food with no brakes.
  • And when you do take the risk, eat your cheat food after you’ve already satiated yourself with a complete meal.

…Just sayin’

You wanna talk calories? Lets talk calories.

Are you still worried about the amount of calories in fat? Is that what’s holding you back from going Paleo? Let’s get this out of the way nice ‘n’ quick.

Here’s what I eat for the ideal lunch; a good Paleo lunch. It will keep me full for the rest of the day. Check out the RDA% graph below. Many of them are off the chart.

  • 3 oz of T bone steak with fat trimmed to 1/4″
  • 3 oz of beef liver with onions
  • 1 cup of kale cooked with 1 tbs of butter
  • Club soda with some limes

Total cals: 551. Total fat: 59 grams. Total protein: 36.3 grams.

Now, here’s what the average American low-fat healthywholegrains-monger will mow-down.

  • One multigrain bagel
  • 2 tablespoons of ‘lite’ cream cheese
  • 1 brownie 3″ square
  • 20 oz ‘diet’ cola 
  • Demure little grab-bag of white potato chips

Total cals: 820. Total fat: 32.6 grams. Total protein: 21.4 grams.

Just for giggles, here’s what happens when I take out the brownie…

Total Cals: 627.

Now, I don’t know about all you people, but after eating one bagel with some cream cheeeeeeez? Tell me you’re not going to go sit at your desk within the hour and start munchin’ on peanut M&M’s or some sugary ‘lite’ yogurt cup, or even some sugary fruit…WHY? Because you got hungry. Again. Right after you ate your lunch. dummy.

Know why?

Look at how sad and pathetic that nutrient composition is. Of course your body is screaming for more food, you didn’t give it what it needed! And that’s not taking into account the bioavailability (or lack there of) of what you just ate. Since the nutrients in that bagel aren’t even bioavailable thanks to phytic acid and lectins, you can go ahead and cross off the following vitamins and minerals: A, E, Protein, Calcium, Copper, Iron, blah blah blah. Thanks to those grains, you’re now deficient! Great job, cowboy!

Think you can pop a multi vitamin to make up for that? (as if they didn’t already attempt to “enrich” the flour) Think again! Most of that stuff is synthetic and not actually bioavailable.

Ingredient:UNBLEACHED ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN), TURKEY (TURKEY BREAST, WHITE TURKEY MEAT, TURKEY BROTH, DEXTROSE, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, POTASSIUM LACTATE, VINEGAR, SALT, LEMON JUICE, CARRAGEENAN, SODIUM PHOSPHATES, SODIUM DIACETATE), WATER, FRESH TOMATO, LETTUCE, CHEDDAR CHEESE (PASTEURIZED MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES, ANNATTO [VEGETABLE COLOR]), DIJON MUSTARD (DISTILLED VINEGAR & WATER, MUSTARD SEED, SALT, TUMERIC, SPICES), Maltoferm 10000 L, Salt, Maltorose 60, Bakers Yeast.

ALLERGEN INFORMATION: Contains dairy, soy and wheat.

 

Now, when I look at that steak and veggies meal…

I know I’m not gonna be hungry for AT LEAST 4 or 5 hours. Many of those nutrients are off the charts, and I got close to 25% of my daily protein needs, plus a good dose of healthy satruated fats! ROCK ON! Looks good to me.

I will be full of energy and not crash mid-afternoon, because I didn’t flood my body with glucose and decrease the activity of my orexin cells. I’m also avoiding inflammation from the grains and sugars. So, not sluggish, not inflamed, not lazy, not foggy-brained. I’m super powerful and feelin’ fine!

If you’re still talking about counting calories or cutting calories, GET OVER IT! It’s about nutrient density. Calories are an arbitrary number assigned to the temperature of burning sugar, and have no real meaning for humans. Plus, there’s a variation between individuals based on metabolism and how many “calories” you actually absorb from a given meal. Besides, your body doesn’t care about calories, it cares about amino acids, fatty acids, and nutrients.

Learn what to eat and your body will take care of the rest!

Check out some of the links on this page for more interesting articles about being awesome, looking awesome, and feeling awesome. AWESOME!

How to lower your body fat setpoint

Leptin is the chief body fat setpoint regulating hormone. It acts on the hypothalamus region of the brain to control our metabolism, nutrient uptake from food, hunger and satiety signals.

Here is how your normal body regulates fat mass and caloric intake

In normal functioning humans, leptin increases as you begin to overeat, and as fat begins to accumulate. The rise in leptin signals the hypothalamus that enough nutrients have been taken in. The increase in leptin tells your body to slow down the hunger signals, speed up the metabolism, and reduce the absorbtion of nutrients.

Likewise, as you fast or fat mass decreases, leptin also decreases. The hypothalamus notices a lack of leptin, and signals the body to slow down metabolism, increase nutrient uptake, and increase hunger.

Here is how a malfunctioning body regulates fat mass and caloric intake

In poorly functioning humans, such as the obese, the leptin signal is muted, and the hypothalamus has difficulty “hearing” the signal. This causes the body to continue to uptake nutrients, slow metabolism, and increase hunger, until the leptin signal is amplified by a greater fat mass, to the point that the hypothalamus is finally able to “hear” the signal. This is how the malfunctioning body defends an incorrect higher-fat mass.

This is called leptin resistance, or a lack of leptin sensitivity.

What causes leptin resistance at the hypothalamus? Inflammation!

Lowering systemic inflammation in the body, by eating a functional Paleo diet and removing neolithic food toxins, as well as staying away from hyper-palatable high hedonic reward foods, is the best way to “deflame” your body, and bring leptin sensitivity back within a healthy range.

Once you have eliminated inflammation and your hypothalamus is able to accurately read leptin signals, your body will self-regulate to a lower body fat setpoint, making fat loss and body recomposition easier.

On a Diet to Lose Weight? Most of What You’re Losing isn’t Fat.

A new study (referenced below) attempts to reveal the relationship between protein and weight. A number of indibiduals were fed very specific diets in a controlled environment for 8 weeks. They were fed what was considered “40 per cent more calories than estimated to be required for weight maintenance. This equated to overfeeding of an average of about 950 calories a day”. Here’s what the calorie percentages for each diet looked like:

                       Protein       Carbohydrate       Fat

Low Protein:     6%                 42%              52%

Med Protein      14%               41%              44%

High Protein      26%              41%              33%

Notice how high the carbohydrate % is for each diet. Without knowing what type of foods the carbs came from, we should assume each diet used the same type of carb-food, (most likely cheap processed carbs). The measurements after the 8 week study can be seen below:

  weight change lean mass change fat mass change
low protein +3.61 -0.70 +3.66
medium protein +6.05 +2.87 +3.45
high protein +6.51 +3.18 +3.44

Notice that each of the groups put on “weight”. Also, each group put on approximately equal fat mass. Considering the amount of carbohydrates between groups is relatively similar (around 40% of calories), it’s my opinion that the high % carbohydrate contribution had the most influence on overall fat gain. 

Also important, is the high-protein diet put on the most lean mass. Had the carb count been lower, or from whole food sources and not cheap processed carbs, We might see a reduction in the fat mass change for this diet

What’s most interesting to me, is that the diet that most resembles the USDA recommended guidelines (low protein-low fat) resulted in the least lean mass gain, and the most fat mass gain. In fact, the low protein diet actually resulted in NEGATIVE lean mass change!

Now, the USDA and common wisdom villify saturated fats. The best protein rich foods contain saturated fats (animals!), so it stands to reason that people on a conventional-calorie-counting-low-fat-diet will be avoiding protein rich foods, in order to avoid the fat (dummies). This diet had a calorie EXCESS. Imagine how much you would lose on a calorie deficit! It’s all lean mass!

It should be obvious to you now that a combination of low-protein, low-fat and low-calorie dieting will lead to a loss in mostly LEAN MASS. Not only will you be weak, but you will become skinny-fat. There’s no beauty in frail weakness.

Reference:

Bray GA, et al. Effect of Dietary Protein Content on Weight Gain, Energy Expenditure, and Body Composition During Overeating – A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA 2012;307(1):47-55

 

Another Example of Your Body’s Natural Ability to Regulate Caloric Intake

When eating real food, and avoiding grains, legumes, sugar, and processed food, counting calories becomes obsolete.

Just a personal example of huger regulation in a well functioning body. I have been eating this way for a year. I have lost fat, become leaner and more muscular. I have increased my ability to resist illness. I have cured my heartburn, allergies, acne, eczema, dry skin, and stomach pains. I have become smarter, faster, and more focused. I have also increased my sex drive, and decreased my recovery time from injury and working out.

Can you say the same after following the USDA’s recommended low-fat, crap-food, high-sugar prescribed diet? I highly doubt it.

When you were a kid, you could come downstairs for breakfast, and EASILY polish off an entire box of cereal.

I bet you could still do the same today. And you would be ravenously hungry a few hours later. How many eggs could you eat? Not many I’m sure. The amount likely hasn’t changed much at your current age. I have a hard time eating more than 3 in one sitting. Today I was barely able to force down 4 of them before the eggs became un-appetizing. The same thing seems to happen with other whole foods, such as steak and veggies at dinner.

This difference in caloric intake can be attributed to your body’s natural ability to sense nutrients and nutrient density.

Your body doesn’t count calories per-se. It wants calories, but does not limit your intake when the “food” you are consuming is nutrient-void. However, when the food you consume is nutrient-rich, everything works in harmony, and your body says STOP once it’s had enough. The most satiating factor of food is fat and protein. The more of each is in a certain food, the more satiating it becomes. This means you will only be diven to eat as much as your body NEEDS. Once it’s replete with nutrients, you are no longer driven to eat. This occurs whether you are physically full or not. It’s possible to push past that barrier, as I did when I forced down that 4th egg today, but it’s difficult.

This is why counting calories is useless and tedious.

You’ve got these built-in mechanisms to tell you when you’ve had enough to eat. Leptin, insulin, ghrelin, etc all working in harmony to elicit hunger and satiety responses. They get thrown off balance by calorically dense food that lacks the nutrients our bodies need. Even if you consume whole foods along with grains and sugars, you are still tricking your body by giving it excess empty calories. There are no complete nutrients to balance out the extra caloric intake from a bagel or a bowl of cereal or a plate of spaghetti.

When everything works properly and nutrient rich food is consumed, calories are irrelevant. Try it for a couple weeks. Eat only meats, eggs, veggies, and fruit. Notice how much clearer your mind is, how much more vibrant your body feels. Notice how you will not be tired after meals. The inevitable afternoon “food coma” will be eliminated. Your body will naturally correct itself, bringing body wetight down to a normal level. You’ll become more active, since you will have more energy. Those “off” days will cease to exsist.

I’m full of energy, and not anywhere NEAR being hungry. My first meal of the day was at 11:00 AM. It was 4 eggs, a tbs of pastured butter, and some turkey. It’s 5:00 PM right now, and I haven’t thought about eating yet. No snacks, just some water. And I still put on muscle each week at the gym. Wow I rule! I’ll probably have a protein shake after the gym, and a fat steak with brussels sprouts for dinner. That’s how I win!

FUCK Calories!

This book is super funny, and a really great read. If you’ve ever lacked the motivation to change your habits, this is the book for you.

“Fortified” means “We took the good stuff out so we have to put it back in.” Except what we put back in is rarely as good as what was in there in the first place. Grind up a vitamin pill and mix it into some sawdust. Congratulations. You just “fortified” that sawdust. Pour some milk over it, and you’re of breakfast cereal. You think I’m kidding? Hell, wood pulp is probably better for you than most cereals. In fact, look for “cellulose” on the label of your favorite foods. That’s mashed up trees, and it’s in your Eggo Waffles, Fiber One cereal, breads and bagels, and pretty much anything from McDonald’s. Even your Jimmy Dean frozen breakfasts. If you own a wood chipper, you could start your own cereal business.

Download this baby here for FREEEEE!!!

The moral of the story? Don’t count calories, eat real food, and be kickass!

Ancel Keys, The Devil? Maybe Not So Much. But Still, Yah.

I had to share this,

because I LOVE YOU DENISE! She never fails to educate AND make me laugh:

Curiously, instead of rolling around on the floor possessed by fat-phobia demons, his WHO audience reacted with skepticism. One report says another researcher challenged Keys to describe his “best piece of evidence” for the diet-heart idea, and effectively squashed Keys’ argument with his Oxford-educated debate tactics. As a result, poor Keys never got to show all the WHOs down in WHOville the full reasoning behind his theory, and left the conference rather defeated. (At least he didn’t steal Christmas.)

Peep the rest by makey clicky right here.

Her glorious conclusions:

Emphasis in bold is mine

  • Yep, Keys picked some cherries—but a link between fat intake and heart disease mortality existed among all 22 countries, not just his six-country graph. And as Yerushalmy and Hilleboe’s paper revealed, the real force behind that correlation was animal fat intake, not just fat as a general category. Keys definitely should’ve facepalmed himself for not looking at the data more carefully, but even if he’d been scrupulous, he probably still would’ve launched the anti-saturated-fat crusade that defined his later career.
  • Although total fat, animal fat, and animal protein were associated with heart disease in this data, those variables were associated with less death from pretty much everything else. Overall, the countries with higher fat and animal food intake had longer life expectancies than the rest. This doesn’t prove that animal foods make you immortal or that plant foods will slit your throat in the middle of the night: it’s mostly a result of countries with more money and a higher standard of living tending to eat more animal products (along with having lower rates of infectious disease, better health care, diets higher in industrially processed foods, and so forth). There’s so much confounding involved with this subject that I don’t even wanna touch it with a ten-foot statistical pole.

  • A lot of countries suck at classifying heart disease deaths under the right label. Especially less-developed nations with sketchy medical care. This makes it look like some countries have abnormally low rates of heart disease, when in reality, they just have abnormally high rates of messing up.
  • The F.A.O. data that Keys (and others of his time) used is probably the most inaccurate way to measure food consumption ever invented (it includes what was available, not what was actually consumed). Because food-balance data doesn’t account for stuff people throw away, wealthier countries are always going to look like they have a higher intake of pretty much everything compared to poorer countries. It’s impossible to say how much this influenced the link between fat or animal foods and mortality rates, but the impact might’ve been pretty big.
  • Correlation isn’t causation. Correlation isn’t causation. Correlation isn’t causation. Correlation isn’t causation. Correlation isn’t causation. Correlation isn’t causation. Correlation isn’t causation. Correlation isn’t causation. Correlation isn’t causation. Correlation isn’t causation. Correlation isn’t causation. Correlation isn’t causation. Correlation isn’t a cucumber. (Just making sure you’re awake.)

Stop Counting Calories. Your Body Regulates Hunger.

“Calories in. Calories out.” How many times have you tried to cut your caloric input, or increase your output, just to fail, binge, or not lose any fat?

If you did succeed, how long did it last before you bounced back to your old weight? How did you feel while dieting? Were you hungry, tired, depressed, irritable, or just plain unhealthy? Did you have to lie to yourself that you weren’t really hungry, just to “stay on the wagon”? Did you have to utilize a “support group” like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, in order to muster enough motivation to just “hang in there”?

It’s not natural to spend weeks or months worrying about caloric intake. Plus it takes way too much energy to count grams-of-this, or calroies-of-that. It tries your patience, makes you worry too much. The stress alone is probably counter productive, since stress plays a major role in weight management.

From birth, your body is naturally programmed to regulate it’s own caloric intake. It does this using hormones that regulate hunger and cravings. Leptin, Insulin, and ghrelin, just to name a few. They work in harmony to signal your brain that you need (or don’t need) nutrients.

After years of eating modern food, like hyper palatable packaged processed garbage-food, (baby formula, canned pasta, boxed snacks, soy products, grain products, vegetable oils) your hormones get thrown out of whack, waaaayyyyy out of whack. Grains in particular are especially damaging to your bodies natural systems. They initiate systemic oxidation (systemic inflammation), immune disfunction, and hormone imbalances with gluten, phytates, lectins, and high glycemic load. That’s a pretty potent punch!

Your goal is to get your hormones back in sync, and let your body determine when you are TRULY hungry, and what you REALLY want to eat. The first step is to remove the processed crap, the grains, the sugar, and get back to REAL fucking food. The stuff you were BORN to eat. The stuff you EVOLVED to eat. The REASON THAT WE ARE HOMO SAPIENS. The reason we have the power of reason!

Why Does Modern Food Throw Off Your Natural Hunger Regulating Mechanisms?

It’s because hyper palatable modern food is also hyper-tasty! It creates an unnatural amount of hedonic reward, that is, your body sees modern food as an extremely dense source of calories, but it’s unbalanced by the fact that modern food is nutrient void. They are made of ingredients that are so nutritionally void, yet so dense with calories, that they never tell your body to stop consuming them. You could simply keep eating until you were nauseous and had consumed pathological amounts!

Your body’s natural mechanisms for sensing nutrient intake continue to drive hunger. Ever wonder why you get ravenously hungry a couple hours after breakfast, even though you ate a WHOLE BOX OF CORN FLAKES? Your hunger mechanisms recognize that even though you were STUFFED a couple hours ago, you didn’t fulfill your basic biological needs. Not only did you not give yourself complete amino-acids, or enough fatty-acids to last through the afternoon, but all the vitamins and minerals in the “enriched wheat flour” were unabsorbed by your gut. All thanks to grains being the wonderful staple that they are. Hooray USDA (ppbbthppbbthpbthbb!).

Snack after snack. Trip after trip to the vending machine. Still hungry? How ’bout a Coke! Mmmmm that’s right. Satisfyin’. Fat-free yogurt? Sure! Let’s go ahead and make it taste good by loading it with SUGAR or fake sugar! That’s TOTALLY better for you. Because we all know that fat makes you faaaaaat. [End sarcasm]

How Do You Correct Your Hunger Regulating Mechanisms?

Start by eating real food. Follow my very simple rules: Eat This. When you stop tricking your body into over consuming calories, it will begin to regulate caloric intake on its own. When you are hungry, EAT! Eat complete protein, good fats from free-range animals, lots of vegetables, and fruit (always along with a protein/fat). When your nutrient intake has met sufficient levels, you will stop wanting food. You may not even be full, but your body tells you to stop, and the food becomes less palatable. These are the normal signals your body uses to regulate hunger and keep you healthy. When you crave salt, or fat. EAT IT!

The best part about following a whole food Paleo or Primal lifestyle is that your calorie intake may actually seem too low, or just right if you happen to keep track one day. It is right on par with what your body actually needs, because your body is built to REGULATE ITSELF. You may find that some days, you only want to eat twice. You won’t even need to snack. Doing Intermittent Fasting for weight loss will become easy. You can pull off an 18 hour fast like a breeze, without having distracting hunger pains!

See for yourself. Do it. Now. There’s no reason to put it off any longer. Start eating like the predator you were born to be, and BECOME A FUCKING SUPERHUMAN!!!!!111!22

Leave me a comment first, though……