This was one of the first planned out, daily programs I did for the specific goal of leaning out.
Things I learned while doing it:
Things I learned AFTER:
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Your diet may get you results, but does it give you the power to control them?
Any diet that hyper-focuses on a singular concept such as ketosis, plant based, or paleo ultimately ends up facing the same challenges: What do people do when they stop losing weight? - Do they Keto/vegan/paleo harder? (to borrow from L. Norton) This is where energy content and calories become a necessary metric for understanding and taking control of bodyweight.
Many people don't realize that any structure that limits dietary choice results in weight loss, and most people overeat on easily accessible, shelf-stable, carb dominant, convenience type foods that wouldn't normally fit into a keto type diet plan. So we eliminated the foods you overeat on, and you lost weight.....go figure!
Of course, if the goal is just being healthy, then that is cool, but we can't then make the leap and say that it is mechanistically unique - that is to say, it is not biologically or chemically more effective than any other diet, this just happens to be one of the ones that limits their trigger foods.
What does your weight-loss represent?
Someone who has never actually formally followed a diet plan, but who's always been insecure about their weight, will get excited about losing 1-2lb, while others need to lose 5-10lb to get excited. In reality, your weight could fluctuate by that much in a day just due to changes in hydration. This is why I, and other experienced diet coaches, do not fuss about daily weight changes. We much prefer to get a weekly average, and then compare weekly averages to see the bigger trend.
Take that to the next level, someone who is 350lbs who loses 40-50lbs may be ecstatic, but really it's just a drop in the pond relative to their total body fat mass. Don't get me wrong, the evidence is pretty clear that you only need to lose 5-10% of your bodyweight to see immediate health improvements (e.g. glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, blood lipids, etc.).
Just for example I lost 60 total lifetime pounds from 228 to 168, and I look completely different - total body re-composition, not just fat loss. As I've said before, losing fat isn't hard in an absolute sense, because of it's simplicity. Eat less than you were before and you will start losing fat right away. But gaining muscle is a process that takes years of hard labour - voluntarily mind you.
People fail to grasp this on the whole, and they conflate a successful diet with one that
Just as a workout should give you more than it takes from you, I truly believe people would be happier, more motivated, and more fulfilled if they treated their diet the same way. Taking an overly or unnecessarily restrictive approach is unlikely to check those boxes, and as I've said before, diets are not effective due to what makes them different, but by what makes them similar - a caloric deficit.
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So what forms the basis - what are the necessary conditions for us to lose fat? To lose fat you must create a calorie deficit. Simply put, a calorie deficit refers to consuming less energy (i.e. food) than your body requires or expends in a given period of time (typically measured within a 24 hour period). Now, the common MISTAKE made by dieters and CICO “deniers” is assuming that CALORIES IN literally refers only to the total (known) numerical value of calories eaten/drank and that CALORIES OUT literally refers only to calories “burned” through exercise - and for some slightly more acquainted with bioenergetics, resting metabolic rate.
Calories-In is relatively simple: it’s the food you digest. However, the calorie content of food is imperfectly determined and calorie availability can vary between species/variety/source and even due to the degree of processing involved. These are small inconsistencies, but inconsistencies nonetheless. For example, dietary fiber cannot be digested through typical enzymatic action in our small intestine (we do not produce cellulase). So even though fiber HAS calories, it doesn't mean we "absorb" those calories. However, gut flora in our large intestine can - through fermentation - convert fiber into short-chain fatty acids. Those SCFA can translocate from the intestinal lumen into circulation, yielding calories. Thus, the composition of your gut flora influences your CALORIES IN, and that composition differs between people, and across your lifespan.
This gets more complicated. CALORIES OUT is not simply represented by what the treadmill tells you. You inhabit a living body that, whether you are conscious of the fact or not, is perpetually dependent on energy availability. In short, CALORIES OUT may be summed up as:
So was this client actually in a caloric deficit when she came to me? According to the equation, yes - according to real-life, NO! By definition, because she was not losing weight she was NOT in a caloric deficit. It's important to remember that equations are crude estimations of calorie needs, and just exactly how efficiently individuals digest and utilize/partition the food molecules they eat is unique to them. Activities like resistance training stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS) to a large enough degree that we can actually see its effect in 1-2 months - which is pretty amazing to think about! The food you eat literally forms the essential elements of contractile muscle! Because we created a demand for protein and energy (in the molecular form of ATP), we robbed her adipose (fat cells) to maintain, build, and repair actively trained muscles. Training created the deficit, but it also told her body what to do with her food: Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle!
Do you have a good understanding of why your diet didn't work, or why it may have worked initially but you couldn't sustain it? Millions of people diet, and dieting is a Billion dollar if not Trillion dollar industry. The culture of body image and weight loss means big bucks for people looking to capitalize by marketing diet products and programs.
You've probably tried a few different diets and achieved similar results, or perhaps you experienced divergent results but a common regression to your original starting point - perhaps you ended up gaining more than you lost. This is a common problem. It's been said that we don't have trouble losing weight - people do it everyday. Rather, we have trouble keeping weight off. Why?
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"I'm so unmotivated", "I need a new routine", "I need something different", "I got bored of my old program"...
Do these sentiments sound familiar? I hear this stuff all the time, and it's one of the many things that drive me batty.
I've been training for over 20 years, and I've been training others for just over a decade, so believe me when I tell you I've heard it all. I know how the average person perceives exercise; I know their good habits and I know their bad habits; I know why most people start and stop exercising; I know the success and failure rates; I know what separates them from me. I know this from experience, and I know this from the abundance of exercise physiology, psychology, behavioural, and epidemiological research.
There's always some new article or book that convinces people of the obscure missing piece to their daily regimen that will magically be the one thing that sends them over the top of whatever obstacle(s) have been keeping them back. But I, as well as the scads of coaches who actually work with people one on one (not just write books or articles), know that those who fail to accomplish their goals, whether fitness-based or otherwise - do so because they neglect the fundamentals, the basics - not the nuances.
Fundamentals account for 90-95% of success, whereas nuances are largely unnecessary components of the bigger picture. A machine can be "finely tuned", but it can nonetheless perform its job as directed without fine tuning. Fine tuning just means it does the job with less wasted energy. The irony when it comes to a goal like weight-loss is that wasted energy IS the goal. The less efficient you are, the more energy you expend, and the more weight you lose. In contrast, getting fitter is a process of becoming more efficient at a given task - whether physically (e.g. stronger muscles move weight easier), or physiologically (e.g. more and larger mitochondria and RBC's allow you to use oxygen more efficiently). This is why, in part at least, you find it difficult to maintain your weight-loss momentum from month to month. You've picked all the low-hanging fruit (the easy weight), and now you have to work a bit harder and/or longer to get more weight off.
If you have a fitness goal, which also accomplishes health goals by proxy, you only need to worry about doing the basics, repeatedly, over a long enough timeline to see your goals through, and with the intent of doing so as best you can while acknowledging that you can always improve:
Do NOT worry about silly, dichotomous thinking and biohacking BS such as:
We need to stop this nonsense. These examples are all indicative of behaviour that attempts to circumvent long term commitment to the process, in favour of an easier way to the prize. There isn't one. This is true in life, as well as fitness. For this reason, I find it typical that those who fall for these shortcuts and empty promises of success without effort tend to display a similar kind of half-assed approach to their jobs and home life. Your "new routine" should be seeing your current routine through to the end. Are you bored with progress? If you are bored it's because you're just going through the motions, and in the beginning that was enough to keep you interested. If you're bored it's because you never identified what your goals were, and thus you don't know why you started your routine in the first place. That or you need a reminder - progress is the goal, not entertainment.
How you do fitness, is how you do life, work, and family - "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" - John Wooden
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