What if I told you that the BEST nutritional tip I could give you for you to be successful on your weight loss journey is to completely STOP tracking your calories and portions?
It’s a beautiful, cool Spring day here on Long Island, and I write this to you from my parents’ home. I had a softball game in the same town last night, and figured since I had a 7 AM client around these parts, there was no point in me driving home 45 minutes, showering and whatnot, and getting less than four hours of sleep, just to come right back out here again. So, I stayed over, slept in my old room, got about seven hours of sleep, and feel a lot better than I usually do on Tuesdays when I get half the amount of sleep :-). EFFICIENCY FOR THE WIN!
Now then, back to why you’re here…
Imagine a world where you NEVER had to worry about your calorie intake again. Imagine eating without minimizing the portions on your plate, or without worrying how much you can consume at any meal.
Wouldn’t that be a much more desirable world than the one where you’re constantly restricting yourself by a general and arbitrary number based on a physics law that doesn’t take the human body’s biological and chemical processes into account?
Yes, yes it is…
I’m here to tell you that the world I just described actually exists, and in fact, had I not removed the restriction of my calorie intake or my portions from my thinking, I would NOT have overcome my two year plateau. In fact, I firmly believe that my OBSESSION with counting calories is what got me into my plateau in the first place.
When I began my weight loss journey at the ripe old age of 20, I had just come off an academic year where I’d gained 70 lbs inside of three months! I don’t care who you are — That’s A LOT of weight to gain in a very short period of time…
While I dealt with childhood obesity up until my pre-teens, coupling regular exercise with a teenage metabolism can work wonders. I’m starting to think that most teens can drink liquid bleach all day every day, and with a nominal amount of physical activity, they can come out looking like their nutrition was perfectly health and on-point.
So when my teenage metabolism left me right around the time I turned 20, I knew something needed to change. Since I hadn’t worried about my weight in nearly 10 years, and I didn’t even change my diet whatsoever when I began to overcome my childhood weight issues, I decided to subscribe to popular thinking: ‘Eat less, exercise more!’
I got set up on MyFitnessPal, entered my height, weight, desired weight, how many lbs I wanted to lose per week… You get the idea! After all this data was input, the app spits out a calorie allotment for the day, and in order to reach my goal of 2 lbs per week, I had to stay within a certain calorie range.
For the first four months, things went pretty well! By merely cutting back on the beer, soda and fast food that comprised the bulk of my daily intake, and by staying within my calorie range, I lost 40 lbs in the first four months, and thought I was well on my way to losing that Sophomore 70…
Boy, was I wrong!
From 40 lbs down through my college graduation and nearly a year into my joining the work force, I stayed exactly the same weight for TWO YEARS: 235 lbs!
I remember continuing to obsess about my calories, thinking things like ‘Maybe I needed to decrease them even further than MyFitnessPal told me, and up my time at the gym…’
So, I’d do that — Using up most of my calories for the day by lunch, and working out on fumes late in the evening after working a 10–12 hour work day.
I remember going to bed hungry VERY often, and that hunger keeping me awake at night as I talked myself out of jumping out of bed, heading downstairs to the kitchen, and eating EVERYTHING in sight!
It was a terrible way to live, and when this lifestyle of restriction and deprivation didn’t yield positive results either on the scale or in the mirror, I’d saw ‘Screw it!’ and go back to the foods and drinks that got me to start my weight loss journey in the first place. After a week or two, I’d get back on the horse, would see if things would work again, but to no avail!
For two years, this cycle would rinse and repeat…
Fortunately, around the time I was really starting to consider giving up on my journey, my buddy turned me on to CrossFit, and one of the dietary strategies CrossFitters subscribe to: Paleo.
Paleo, better known as the Caveman Diet, focuses moreso on food QUALITY, versus quantity. This was music to my ears, since I was sick and tired of depriving my body, always being hungry, constantly having low energy and being irritable all the time — All for absolutely NOTHING!
I found through my research that our bodies also go into a starvation mode if we deprive our bodies of an adequate amount of nutrients for too long. When we’re on a calorically restrictive diet, we can only stay deprived for so long. After a while, our bodies will think we’re in a period of famine, and its processes will completely change!
For starters, EVERYTHING we’d eat — Good, bad or indifferent — would be stored as fat, since our bodies can’t discern when we’ll get an adequate amount of nutrition in next. Second, our hormones will be all out of whack, which makes the likelihood of us dropping more weight much smaller than if we were ingesting an adequate amount of food in the first place.
I also learned through my research that not all calories are created equal. Human beings ingest three different macronutrients: Fats, proteins and carbs. Of the three, only two are ESSENTIAL, meaning our bodies need to ingest these in order to function optimally. These two macronutrients are Fats and Proteins. Carbs are a NON-ESSENTIAL macronutrient, as they can be created in the body through the conversion of our fat stores, or even through the conversion of protein when fat stores are low and we need a more immediate boost.
Moreover, while the whole ‘Calories Matter!’ thing is based on the Law of Thermodynamics, and while we are, indeed, physical beings, there’s also quite a bit of biology and chemistry that occurs within our bodies. Each macronutrient elicits a different insulin response, which means ingesting 500 calories of fat versus 500 calories of carbohydrate NOT equate to the same result.
Of the three macronutrients, Fat is considered the most ‘neutral,’ in that it elicits BY FAR the smallest insulin response. This is why high-fat diets tend to work well for both weight loss and overall health, as we’re not triggering the Insulin Resistance Cycle like we would when ingesting a comparable amount of carbohydrates. This cycle is a terrible process that leads to short-term fat accumulation, and long-term risk for Type-2 Diabetes and a myriad of deadly but preventable health conditions.
Also, while protein elicits a lower insulin response than carbs, when ingesting more than 30% of your daily intake from protein, you WILL stimulate a considerable insulin response, which obviously isn’t ideal for weight loss or optimal health. This doesn’t even explore the notion that eating too much protein can put excess stress on your kidneys, which can bring on its whole separate set of issues…
My life changed when I switched my focus from food QUANTITY to food QUALITY. Nutrition is simple, guys: Eat meats, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no (added) sugar. Eat ONLY when hungry, and just to satisfy — NOT to stuff your face.
Two sentences. That’s it! If you can employ these two sentences to EVERY nutritional situation, be it when preparing a home-cooked meal or when eating out at a restaurant, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your health and weight loss goals! :-)
P.S. If you’re READY to take that first step on your health and weight loss journey, then you’re REALLY going to want to download my FREE report!
With 10 years of experience, SEVEN different fitness and nutrition certifications, and a sustained weight loss of 100 lbs., I think I know a thing or two about this Permanent Weight Loss thing ;-)
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