I've never been crazy overweight, I've never tried to lose 50kgs. But I have had problems, truck loads of them, from trying to get in shape, to losing that last bit of stubborn belly fat, to improving my stamina levels. The first thing I was told was "eat less, exercise more". And am sure this piece of sh***y advice is given to almost everyone out there, by arm-chair experts and so-called nutritionists/dieticians. Unfortunately, this is not a workable, long-term solution. The reason people hate the word "diet" is because it is associated with ideas like under-eating, while in fact the dictionary defines it as "the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats". While calorie-restricted diets will show weight loss (remember this) initially, the results will plateau soon enough. And most people will gain back the weight that they lost in a lot less time than it took them to lose it in the first place. There is a simpler solution out there, and that's the point of this post.
Why Crash Diets Do Not Work
But before we get there, let's understand little bit more about the problem. Let's say "X" weighs 100kgs, and loses 20kgs magically, within a short span of time. Now, at 80kgs, his energy expenditure (mainly a sum of internal heat produced and external work) is obviously lower than what it used to be at 100kgs. But here's the deal - X's energy expenditure will be lower than "Y", a person who's been at 80kgs for the last few years and is at his natural weight, and has never had the same weight issues as X. Evolution has made this so - X just lost a bunch of fat stores (which is vital to survival, from an evolutionary point of view) and so, in these tough times (or so the body thinks), the body reduces its overall energy expenditure. It is now a lot more fuel efficient, as some quotes from the paper linked point out. > Maintenance of a 10% reduction in body weight is associated with a 20–30% decline in energy expended in physical activity The decrease in energy expenditure is not due to reduced time spent in physical activity
And while there are a bunch of concepts here, one I would like to introduce is the hormone leptin. Leptin, simplistically speaking, tells the body to eat less and exercise more! Leptin is proportional to the amount of body fat - so fat people will have higher levels of leptin than thin people. Isn't that an awesome system? If you are fat, the body sends a signal to eat less and workout more. Unfortunately, we screw up this signalling by doing a variety of bad habits. Circling back, losing a lot of weight lowers leptin circulation, and coupled with a much more reduced energy expenditure, it basically leads to us putting on the weight again! The body tries to restore leptin circulation to previous high levels, by increasing body fat content. Stephan Guyenet puts this very succinctly, > The leptin system is a classic negative feedback loop: the more fat mass accumulates, the more leptin is produced. The more leptin is produced, the more the hypothalamus activates programs to reduce hunger and increase energy expenditure, which continues until fat mass is back in the optimal range. Conversely, low fat mass and low leptin lead to increased hunger and energy conservation by this same pathway
To summarize the problem, - starving yourself is a dumb idea
- constant hunger cravings, being irritated due to insufficient food - bah!
- drastic weight loss by a crash diet cannot be sustained
- And this is weight loss, not fat loss! You are losing muscle and fat indiscriminately.
- In fact, the sure-fire way to gain body fat in proportion to lean body mass is to cut calories!
[hr] ### Well Then, What Is The Solution?
Simple - eat real food! Eat Real Food is a nutritional template that Raj and I are working on to help people with varied dietary backgrounds (vegetarians, meat-eaters, people with health issues like diabetics, people over 60, kids.. you get the idea) meet their health and fitness goals - whether it is gaining weight, losing weight, maintaining weight or something else. While it is a work-in-progress, it is certainly something you can use today and see great results for yourself. All our clients follow this template, and hey, we still have clients, so it looks to be working. What Is Our Goal?- It must be possible to lose fat (or maintain weight or put on muscle) in a slow, healthy, and sustainable fashion
- It must not involve deliberate calorie restriction
- It must not have any detrimental effects to long-term health of the individual
- It must not involve calorie counting
- Or keeping track of macro-nutrient ratios
- The food must be tasty and delicious. A special shout-out to three ladies, who are helping me and Raj create awesome foods.
- There should be enough room for error and indulgences
- To be the last diet you will ever be on. Seriously.
Like I mentioned, this is a work-in-progress, one that we will continue to refine over the years. Here's the gist of it, > Eat vegetables, meat, seafood, eggs, dairy, fruit, and nuts. Stay away from junk (processed food, of any kind), grains, legumes, vegetable oils and sugars.
There's nothing mind-blowing, or new about it. In fact, it is kinda old school. But hey, it works! And while we don't have long-term data on it, I am willing to bet my reputation that it will outperform stupid s*** like the food pyramid. A larger list, from our website, follows. Eat - **Vegetables **- Any and all vegetables. Fresh or frozen only. No vegetable oils, store-bought vegetable juices etc.
- **Fruits **- Any and all fruits (in limited quantities). Fresh or frozen only. No fruit juices, jams, extracts etc.
- **Starches **- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, white rice, taro, tapioca, beets, squashes, carrots.
- **Meat **- Any and all meats, preferably pasture-raised, grass-fed.
- Seafood - Any and all seafood, preferably local and wild-caught.
- **Eggs **- Any and all eggs, preferably free-range and organic.
- **Dairy **- Whole milk, whole milk yogurt, full fat kefir, heavy cream, full fat sour cream, fresh whipped cream, all unprocessed cheeses including paneer and halumi cheese.
- **Soy (in fermented form) **- Whole cooked edamame beans, miso, tempeh, natto, and soy sauce (in limited quantities)
- **Nuts **- Any and all nuts (in limited quantities)
- **Dried **fruit – Any and all dried fruit (in limited quantities)
- **Oils **- Coconut oil and butter/ghee as cooking oils. Olive oil as dressing or for making room temperature condiments (mayo etc.)
- **Spices **- Any and all spices
- **Sugars **- Honey and raw sugar (in very limited quantities)
- Update**: Legumes and beans** – Any and all legumes, lentils and beans
- **Others **- Cocoa, raw almond milk, tender coconut, coconut milk, coconut water, whey protein (for athletes)
Don’t eat - Grains – Any and all grains (except rice) In case this is not clear, no pasta/bread!
Legumes and beans – Any and all legumes, lentils and beans
- Industrial seed oils & Vegetable oils – Any and all oils made from vegetables including canola oil (except olive oil)
- Processed foods/Junk – All. Anything from a box.
- Flavored nonsense – All. Anything that is flavored/colored etc.
- Low-fat/Non-fat crap – All. Anything that has fat stripped off artificially.
An update: Again, this is a work-in-progress, and while some of these foods will fall into a gray area, rather than a strict no-no, you simply have to wait for it. For example, properly preparing grains, legumes, lentils will make them a better food than in raw form. We will be updating what this process is, over the next few weeks. We are well aware that while some people will be ready and prepared to take the plunge and follow our template, certain aspects might be very hard for people who've been eating this way for 50+ years. One of our goals is to allow for these practices and indulgences, and while it is near impossible to make everybody happy, we are determined to get close. A good way to give this diet a shot would be as close to maximal compliance as possible for a month to 6 weeks. After that, scale it back down to whatever compliance level you want. A 80/20 would be solid! Chocolate malts, deep fried chicken, tons of mexican food - some of that stuff is pretty darn delicious. I know you will sneak in some of that - as long as you are eating real food for the majority of the time, you will be moving in the right direction. [hr] ### Eat Real Food!? That's It? How? Why?
Over the course of the following weeks, I will detail how and why we came up with these list of foods, why this methodology is superior, and why this will be the last diet you will ever need to be on, and what is ideal/optimum, as well as how the recommendations will vary based on special needs. But briefly, Real Food = Clean Food. Shoo To Toxins! ** Cereal grains, sugar, processed foods, and industrial seed oils are extremely toxic to us. Toxic need not apply only to rat poison and the like. If water in high doses can be toxic, you shouldn't be surprised that grains, with an in-built defense mechanism against predators (you), are toxic at a much lower dose. Cereal grains have several defense mechanisms that include**> producing toxins that damage the lining of the gut; producing toxins that bind essential minerals, making them unavailable to the body; and, producing toxins that inhibit digestion and absorption of other essential nutrients, including protein.
Issues like inflammation, insulin resistance, impaired leptin signalling, disrupted thyroid functioning - the list is pretty long - can all be tied to toxins from foods that we consume daily. When you EatRealFood, you eliminate these toxins from your diet! **Happy Gut = Happy You **> All disease begins in the gut -- Hippocrates
Eating toxic food leads to poor gut health, which in turn leads to a host of problems. Research strongly indicates that gut health is a major factor in overall health, and bad gut health contributes to a wide range of diseases including diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, autism spectrum disorder, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. By helping you restore the integrity of your gut, by eating real food, your health will improve dramatically. All this without doing a cleanse diet - imagine that! Note: Cleansing diets are a joke/scam. They are probably the worst things you can do for your gut. But that's another post, just go with me on it for now. Keep That Inflammation At Bay ** While inflammation is a necessary and invaluable mechanism of the human body, chronic levels of inflammation is extremely harmful. In fact, getting fat and obese, diabetes, auto-immune disorders - all of these can be tied to chronic inflammation. And it also worsens the danger of heart disease! So, keeping inflammation below chronic levels is extremely important. I know am sounding like a broken record but eating real food does this. It is almost like magic!** Besides that, No More Pesky Calorie Counting Your body is pretty smart. When the food quality is improved, your body will recognize when it is full. So, you will eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. This is because your hormone signalling are all working as they should, when you are eating well. Eating till satiation means you stop eating when you are about 80-90% full. It does not mean stuffing your face, nor does it mean you should remain hungry. **Load Up on 'em Nutrients! **Real food is nutrient dense. This keeps you full, ensures you get all the nutrients you need, and remain healthy. Simple. While some supplementation of vitamins and minerals might be required on a case-by-case basis (vegetarians, for example, might need fat-soluble vitamins), if you eat a variety of foods, you probably dont need to worry about deficiencies.******Screw 'em Macro-Nutrient Ratios ** There are detailed studies and anecdotal evidence of various cultures with high-carb diets, and high-fat diets. Pacific islanders with perennial six-packs eat a high-carb diet rich in starchy vegetables, while the Inuit (used to, before western food influence set in) eat a 80% fat diet! And yet, they are extremely healthy. While some people will need to pay attention to macro-nutrient ratios (athletes, for example), if your focus is health, just stick to eating real food and you will be fine. [hr] To summarize, > Eat Real Food, and the rest will take care of itself
[hr] Alright, am done here, for now. Now it is your turn to start eating real food. I know we are right, but don't just take my word for it. Try it out for a month. What do you have to lose? What do you have to gain? You can thank me after a month, but for now, it'd be cool if you could share this with your friends! Appreciate it.