Is it just me, or has the topic of weight loss become more complicated as we learn more about the human body?
Instead of just keeping the diet decent and balanced, and maintaining slightly fewer calories than we’ve been accustomed to during the weight-gaining years, we now complicate the topic with questions of leptin, grehlin, thyroid output, androgenic hormonal balance, fatty acid profiles, high intensity interval training verses long, slow cardio; and on and on it goes.
Are those things unimportant?
No. But so far, I haven’t found many real people who have accurately determined every nuance of their own physiology, adjusted them accordingly, and stresslessly went about consistent weight loss from having done these calculations. To be sure, there are full-time fitness bloggers and self proclaimed “bio-hackers” who access the latest and greatest testing at great cost and inconvenience, and then report it to us, as if these things were practical ways of improving our health. And if you have thousands of dollars to spend on traveling to high tech clinics around the world to see how well you’re metabolizing sugar, or how efficiently you access REM sleep, by all means, do it.
But is this what’s actually required to lose weight in 2016? (Like the scene in Frasier where Niles and Dafne were planning to have a baby, and they purchase an array of gadgets to help the process along. Ovulation tests, heat sensors, and a half dozen other contraptions. Frasier sees everything and asks, “Ah, so you’re having a baby?” Yes. Their father asks, “It’s been a long time since I had a baby, but do you really need all of these things just to get pregnant nowadays?” Niles replies, “Of course we do! We’re not animals!” Sometimes, it seems that weight loss in 2016 America requires just as many complicated gadgets and programs. A little silly, isn’t it?)
Think about the last century of bodybuilders and physique athletes. Setting aside how many of them are hormonally-enhanced with steroids, all of them scrutinize their calories as they drop fat weight en route to competition. I’ve never met any bodybuilder who wins that pays zero attention to calories. Most of them weigh their food, and eat the same things every day so they don’t have to constantly wonder if they’re over or under their daily caloric needs.
What’s funny is that you’ll see certain groups who say “We don’t count calories in our program”, but then they WILL have you pay attention to portion size. A palm full of vegetables and a fist-sized portion of meat, for example. All the while, they’ll pat themselves on the back for not counting calories, yet they’re essentially doing the exact same thing by limiting portion sizes. The only difference is that there’ no math in their system!
To say calories have no relevance is equivalent to saying, “It is impossible to overeat, or to consume more calories than your body to handle”, which is ridiculous. They’re saying this because we currently live in a culture of the Super Size meals and Gigantic Gulp sodas. It would seem like business suicide for them to try to change your habits by telling you that our current portions are insanity.
Are calories the only thing that counts? Of course not. For longevity and immunity and energy and overall health, you better first be concerned about quality of calories. But some have taken the “quality of calories” argument, and have concluded that quantity of calories has no relevance.
What about miracle supplements?
I once knew a supplement guru who had a formula that she claimed would cause weight loss “without changing what you eat”. She appeared on a TV show, and a lot of people called in, not to buy her supplement, but to note that she was quite overwrought, herself.
When she heard how widespread the complaints were, she and her business partner determined to lose the weight. Did she use her super weight loss supplement, though? No. She went on a crash diet and fasted down to a lesser weight. It made her sick, and weak, and miserable. The show host suggested that she come back to the show after she get herself together and learn the basics of health and weight loss. She never returned.
I’m telling you, after being in the industry for an awfully long time, alongside stand-up professionals who have been at this for decades, I can tell you that much of what you hear from gurus is designed to make you “vote” for them with your dollars and attention rather than actually help you.
They know that you want to hear that weight loss is “effortless”, so they say it will be.
They know you want to eat all the junk food you can handle, but with zero consequences, so they say you can.
Whatever you’re currently doing that you don’t want to change is exactly what they’ll tell you don’t have to change. Do you like donuts? Eat as many as you want and still lose weight, they’ll tell you.
Only problem is, it never works.
What I’ve loved about Guy Evans and Bioactive Nutrients, is that Guy has fought against people who claimed miracle weight loss from chromium picolinate, which his father, Dr Gary Evans, discovered. Chromium pic helps maintain blood sugar, and when blood sugar is managed, weight loss is often a positive effect. But people selling chromium started calling it a miracle, and that calories no longer matter. Rather than trying to ride that fictitious wave, Guy has fought that for darn near 20 years. He’ll tell you what chromium pic does, while never pretending it can do the impossible.
My buddy, Doug Kaufmann, says “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten”. Remember that when “they” tell you that you won’t have to change anything, but can now magically lose weight.
Back to basics.
You gotta eat less. Whatever you eat that isn’t burned or used will be stored as fat or glycogen. Simple as that.
Yes, hormones matter. Macronutrients matter. Vitamins and minerals and phytonutrients matter for your health and longevity. But when it comes to weight loss, every fitness professional and physique athlete will tell you that you have to pay at least a little attention to calories.
Don’t go crazy, though, with a calorie deficit. Eating too few is as bad or worse than eating too many. Just ask the contestants on The Biggest Loser who ate dangerously low calories and exercised at dangerously aggressive levels. They all lost weight, but most have gained it back again, are injured, and have wrecked metabolisms.
Don’t do that. Just cut back a little. Have a meal replacement shake for a meal or two each day to get the ball rolling. Move a bit more. Eventually, you can do everything a bit more aggressively, but never diet down too ultra low calories, or do hours and hours of cardio each day. It’s not necessary and it can damage you in a variety of ways.
Weight loss should be simple, but we’ve over-complicated it. You already know that chips and donuts and candy and pastries and sugar cereals aren’t on the diet, and you intuitively know that if you eat more than you need, it’ll fatten you up. Foods that have been tainted with antibiotics and growth hormones will also have an impact on weight and health, so eat as clean as you can. Do it every day. A pound lost every week or so makes a difference after a while.
What you know right now is enough to lose weight. Just do it.