I’m going to steal some content here from Gary Taubes ad Dr. Robert Lustig – both of these guys have been very influential on my weight loss journey.
Virtually my whole life, I’ve been overweight. Right now, I’m 30 pounds or so from my goal weight and clocked in at 220 yesterday. My all-time high was 372 pounds.
“If fat people just got off their lazy asses, they would not be fat”. This is the type of thing I heard my whole life. It might surprise many of you, but I’ve been extremely active my whole life. I know others that routinely go to the gym and workout and have trouble losing it. Others I know could crush me in long distance activities and have struggled for years with obesity.
So then it MUST be that they are just stuffing their faces all day long, right?
“If those fat people just put down the donuts, they would lose weight”.
Well, donuts were never my poison. I know others like myself who, over the years have done Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Atkins, ate 1200 calories. Each of these diets work to a degree, and often people gain weight back when they stop eating 1200 calories.
Does it mean:
- That the diets failed?
- That they should just always eat 1200 calories?
- That maybe there’s something else going on?
Calories in, Calories out
“So if you just ate less and moved more, you’d not be fat”.
This is what everyone has told me my whole life. Including doctors, nutritionists, etc. I see lots of fitness people on YouTube talking about this as well. They talk “energy balance”.
You must be weak if you are eating too much. You must be stupid because you cannot count calories in a simple equation. And these guys make me see red.
There’s a couple of problems here.
- Food products can be off as much as 20% with their labeling
- You would also have to measure all of your food exactly with scales, cups, etc
- Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is an estimate based on how much muscle and fat you are. There are a lot of formulas for this, and there is no ONE formula.
- No one can tell you with certainty how many calories you burned today getting the mail, washing the dishes, vacuuming the rug, and walking your dog. These are all just estimates as well.
Calories in (which are off by as much as 20% and need precision weight) = Calories out (which are all estimates and can vary wildly by activity level)
Do you see a problem with the equation above?
No – if you take a person and put him in isolation for three months and weigh him first, THEN over those three months feed him a precise calorie count and the person is not allowed to move except to use exercise devices that can measure calories, EXACTLY – MAYBE after those three months you can get a somewhat precise measurement of how that ONE person burns calories a day. Maybe.
But there’s something missing from your equation. Hormones.
What I posit, is that energy balance is a BYPRODUCT of ensuring your hormones are in order. Let me explain.
Prior to starting my weight loss, I was hungry ALL THE TIME. I saw it labeled as “hedonic hunger”. This ruled my life, similar to how a drug addict needed a fix. I’d eat a giant breakfast – because, well, we ALL know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I’d have a soda at 9AM to help keep me awake and at 11AM I was ready to tear down my cubicle walls to get mcDonald’s for lunch. I’d get a quarter pounder with cheese, double cheeseburger, large fries, and diet coke. Since it’s all about energy balance, I just didn’t want the extra calories!
My weight loss journey has been all about APPETITE CONTROL.
If you aren’t hungry, you won’t tear down your cubicle walls to get McDonald’s.
I’m still as active as I’ve been my whole life, but now I just happen to feel better.
Let me discuss a few key hormones below. I’m not a doctor. I’m summarizing information that’s available to all of you.
Insulin – the storage hormone. This is secreted from your pancreas when your blood sugar levels rise. Both table sugar (sucrose, made from half glucose and half fructose) and complex carbs (breads, potatoes, pastas, waffles) break down to glucose in the blood stream. Some items higher in fiber take longer to break down – but they still release glucose into the bloodstream. This is why I might eat a half a cup of raspberries when I am doing a LOT of volume with biking, but avoid fruit the rest of the time. And this is why I tell people to cut out all the damn fruit if you have a weight issue. My mom was on Weight Watchers and they tell them they can eat “all the fruit you want” because it’s zero points. THIS IS DANGEROUS TO OVERWEIGHT PEOPLE WHO ARE INSULIN RESISTANT.
Insulin takes glucose and sends it to the liver or muscles to be stored as glycogen. If your liver and muscle stores are full of glycogen, it stores it as fat. When you are pretty active, you deplete these glycogen stores and you may not gain much fat. This is why high level athletes are able to eat 400-600g of carbs per day and be “trim”. But unless you are exercising 5 hours a day, you have zero need for this much. The actual writer of the long distance running book called, “The Lore of Running”, developed type 2 diabetes over the years despite running 100 marathons.
Insulin will come along and shuttle out the glucose from the blood. But get this. HUMANS NEED ZERO CARBS TO LIVE. So we need fats and proteins we have to eat, but if you had zero carbs the rest of your life, there would be ZERO SIDE EFFECTS. Insulin is there because over thousands of years ago, maybe we ate berries and fruits over the summer. We ate until our bellies would burst, and we transported these with us. For 8-9 months a year, there may be virtually no carbs available to humans. Then, humans would switch over to burning fats for the cooler months. The fat we stored over the summer months from all the fruits we were able to eat would then help us store calories for us to use them when it was brutally cold out.
Insulin was used, sparingly, from time to time, to help us gain weight for when there were no carbs available.
When insulin is going through your system, YOU CANNOT BURN FAT. Insulin LOCKS cells to receive, not pull out anything. Think about this the next time you are on Weight Watchers and they tell you to eat 6 small meals a day of fruits and whole grains. You are feeding off of the dinner plate, and not off of your tummy. Overnight, the idea is THEN some fat can be burned. And you wake up the next day with orange juice and whole grain breads and STOP the fat burning. Why would you want to stop the fat burning? If you ate some foods that didn’t touch your insulin hormones….you could keep burning the fat.
When your cells are full – GLUCOSE is turned into fat by a process called de novo lipogenesis (of nothing, create fat). So – this is how your high carb, low fat diet turns sugar into fat. No. Fat on your dinner plate does not make you fat. This is based on a 1960s hypothesis. Untrue. Ready about my weight loss above.
Glucagon – “I have to eat this candy bar because my blood sugar is low”. Maybe if you are a severe diabetic and wrecked your pancreas over years, this is true. For everyone else, FULL STOP.
When your blood sugar rises, insulin comes to the rescue to clear the sugar out. When your blood sugar dips, glucagon is in charge of raising it. It will tap the energy stores in your liver and muscle tissue first (glycogen stores) – but this is only 1600 calories or so total. Think about that – when you are a “sugar burner”, you only have 1600 readily available calories. When you are so damn good at burning sugar, and exercise, your body doesn’t know how to burn fat extremely well. So – you tend to lean towards eating a candy bar for energy.
Look at your belly. One pound = 3500 calories. If you are 10 pounds overweight, you may have 35,000 available calories. If you are 100 pounds overweight, you would have 350,000 available calories.
I was 186 pounds overweight. So, I had 651,000 calories STORED and AVAILABLE to use….but I couldn’t go 4 hours without stuffing my face with mcDonalds due to HEDONIC HUNGER.
But…if I had so many calories available, why was I so fucking hungry all the time?
So get this – all of those years of eating breads, pastas, potatoes, pizza? All of that broke down to glucose in my blood and my body couldn’t handle all of it, so it stored it as fat. The more and more insulin I ordered up, the more insulin resistant my body became. This would cause me to secrete more and more insulin to take the same amount of glucose away. I was told 5 years ago I was “pre-diabetic”.
For god knows how many years, doctors were trained that diabetes was caused by getting fat. Well, it’s caused by insulin resistance, it turns out. If you are overweight, you have been insulin resistant. Re-read that last sentence.
Well, it turns out, that insulin in your bloodstream also tends to block leptin. Leptin is the hormone that tells you “hey, I’m full”. Insulin also spikes and crashes – and on the way down, insulin sends hunger pangs in the form of ghrelin. There’s another hormone for you to look up.
So my breakfasts….big bowl of cereal and a banana would crush my insulin. I’d be starving by 11. I’d eat breads/leftover pastas for lunch. I’d be STARVING for dinner.
What can you do??
- Track your shit. If you are overweight, by ANY pounds, TRACK YOUR SHIT. My guess is your carbs are too high.
- Cut the carbs some. You cannot out-run a bad diet. 90-95% of all of my weight loss has been from the above. It’s been from evaluating what I was eating and changing the quality of my foods. I stopped counting calories like 8 months ago and am in the best shape of my life. So – you need to look at caloric consumption and WHAT types of calories you are eating. I can tell you that most of my life, I was probably 60% carbs, 30% fat, 10% protein. When I dieted, I would go down to 1200 calories and RUN. I’d lose weight initially, but then be tired all the time and get injured. My 1200 calories were usually 80% carbs, 15% protein, and 5% fats. I switched this to 40 percent carbs, 30% fat, and 30% protein at 2850 calories and the first month I lost like 13 pounds. 13 pounds lost while eating 2850 calories???? Yeah. Because I cut the fucking carbs. Suddenly, my body could access the fat stores.
- Look into low carb diets. Paleo is considered “low carb” and may have 100-150g of carbs per day. Keto is more restrictive with carbs. Mark Sisson suggests doing keto for maybe a few months and then going “primal” in “The Primal Blueprint”. Keto is like your prehistoric body telling you that carbs are over for the season, time to switch to fats. Then, you go “primal” and can eat 100-150g of carbs per day. Keto gets you lean, primal keeps you there.
- Do NOT insist on just cutting calories. You need to look at what you are eating. If you eat 1800 calories a day of 60-70% carbs, you will be hungry all the time. Yes, you will lose weight, initially, but you will get hangry and THIS is not sustainable. 1800 calories of OMAD with giant salads, chocolate, and NO HUNGER? THIS is sustainable.
- Schedule a cheat meal or day AS NEEDED. When I first started my weight loss project, I needed 2-3 cheat meals PER WEEK. Now, I might have one once every 1-4 months. What has happened was that I completely broke my addictions to foods. I no longer crave what I used to. Many of the books I’ve read compare sugar and wheat addiction to cocaine addictions. Sugar is a concentrated white substance with caloric value and no nutritional value. It is added to 85% of the approximate 600,000 items in your grocery stores.
- Try new things. I can go 72 hours without eating, no problem. I prefer one meal a day (OMAD) to three meals a day. I LOVE my keto foods BETTER than my old foods. I feel great. No bloating. No hangriness. GREAT sleep. Incredible long distance performance. FAT LOSS.
- If all of this is too extreme for you – simply try to cut back on sugars. It’s like trying to “cut back on cocaine”. You will cut back for a month or two, not see the scale move, and then give in to the office birthday party and cake or donuts. However, if you are tracking your shit, you might be able to squeeze a donut in here or there within your 40% carb macros.
Here’s the problem:
- Everyone has been told, forever, that calories in-calories out is the ONLY way to lose weight. They tell you fat makes you fat. They tell you to eat the food pyramid with 6-11 servings per day and eat 5 meals a day, which is constantly pumping you full of insulin and preventing fat loss. They are telling you saturated fats cause heart attacks with the amount of cholesterol you are putting in your body. Since this model was rolled out in 1978, our population has now moved to crisis conditions, where 65-75% of our population is either type 2 diabetic, pre-diabetic, or undiagnosed pre-diabetic. They tell you to “eat less, move more” – but you are starving all the time. They tell you to eat more fruit and whole grains, then want to “treat” you with statins, weight loss plans, chemo, or insulin. You have been told to eat “heart healthy” vegetable oils and avoid cholesterol at all costs.
Here’s the solution
- stop eating carbs. When you do this, your body will lean out because you controlled your hunger. Glucagon will help you burn your stored fats. You avoid wheat and sugars and “vegetable oils” and replace it with whole foods – green vegetables, low carb fruits, and quality meats. You have oils like olive oil, butter, ghee, avocado oil, tallow, and lard. By removing the sugars, wheats, and veggie oils, you reduce inflammation. Cholesterol is needed by every cell in your body and your body produces it whether you eat it or not. Less inflammation in your body improves your cholesterol numbers – it’s not the LDL you should care much about, but the triglyceride to HDL ratio. It has been shown that there is no correlation to lower LDL and heart disease. You re-program your body to eat once or so per day like our ancestors did and you rarely get hungry over a 4 on a scale of 10. Your body remembers what leptin and ghrelin is and your body can tell you when it is full. There is no need to calorie count when you stop fucking up your hormones.
When you have over half a million calories stored on your body – you have to ask yourself:
WHY AM I SO GODDAMN HUNGRY????
Then, you realize – the new science in the last 10 years is the solution to our obesity epidemic.
It is NOT calories in/calories out – it is to keep carbs low to allow your body to listen to itself and burn its existing fat stores.
In closing, I found a clip all of you need to watch for 15 minutes. Dr. Robert Lustig is someone I’ve followed for well over a year and one of the reasons I went keto. My trainer suggested keto for me in the summer of 2017, and I was resistant. I had done Atkins twice. Sure, I lost weight on it both times, but all that saturated fat couldn’t be good for you. But I started to do my research – and these guys have solved the obesity problem. It just needs to get out.
Dr. Lustig near the end drops bombs. I’m going to summarize:
- If you take a normal person that has 2000 calories and burns 2000 calories, you will not gain or lose weight.
- However, if that person, over years, has had a higher percentage of carbs, his body will become insulin resistant. This will cause him to require more and more insulin to shuttle the glucose into his cells.
- The increase in insulin will perhaps take 500 of those 2000 calories and IMMEDIATELY store them as fat.
- This means you took in 1500 instead of 2000. Your body will send hunger signals to get to that 2000 calories, so you eat more to get to 2000.
- You eat 500 more calories, and 100 of them are sent right to fat. 400 of them go to your body to take you to 1900.
- You still haven’t reached 2000, so you snack again, maybe another 120 calories.
- The net result is that have met your 2000 BMR, but you took in 2600+ calories and stored 600+ calories.
- Conclusion – the higher percentage of carbs in this person’s diet eventually led them to consuming more calories per day due to hunger pangs. The thought is that as you hit your 30s and 40s, you get the “dad bod” and when you’re in your 50s or 60s you get some chub just because your metabolism drops over the years. Below is Mark Sisson, who’s 64 and eats 100-150 carbs per day. He, too, was a marathon runner and 4th place ironman finisher in Hawaii. His body was internally sick until he went low carb 20 years ago. He wrote a book called “The Primal Blueprint” which has sold over 300,000 copies. Looks good for 64?
Overall – THIS is why you are overweight. Don’t like the idea of eating 3 pound of sausage and cheese per day? Right, me too. Eat salads, greens, eggs, fish, vegetables, low carb fruits.
Take a look at this low carb bread and eggs I made. I rarely will touch the low carb breads, but in moderation, ok. Then – my chicken parm made with pork rinds and parmesan cheese in the air fryer, with Rao’s sauce and cheese – with zucchini zoodled.
The ketchup on the eggs? Primal kitchen unsweetened ketchup. No sugar.
I CRAVE this food. And I keep losing weight, and avoid inflammation.
While every body is different – please examine your carb intake.