Eating less tells your body it's experiencing a famine, so it will store more fat for backup fuel. Eating the wrong types of food also promotes fat storage. So focus on frequently eating foods that are optimal for your health to get the most bang for your metabolic buck!
Women today have a fear of getting fat from eating and bulking up from lifting. We are taught that depriving ourselves of calories is healthy and that the only way to burn fat is by running a marathon.
However, this unknowingly leads you to the very body you don't want!
Restricting calories makes your body eat its own muscle tissue when you do not have enough food in your stomach to fuel you through a workout and recovery.
Since muscle tissue actually burns fat tissue, and you lose muscle tissue when you don't eat enough, increasing the stress from cardio exercise, while on little-to-no fuel (during a time when you should be eating more), is ironically making you gain more fat tissue.
Building muscle can only happen when you lift weights, eat nutrient-dense foods, and rest.
So stop depriving yourselves and running scared, ladies: lift those weights and eat....because science, not a fad, says so!
Photo credit: Heather Grimm
We’ve all been there. As soon as you think you’ve found the magical diet, detox, challenge, or cleanse that actually works for you, a new study comes out showing that what you’ve been doing has only contributed to your problem, and you should do the exact opposite because Harvard says so. One study indicates that there are multiple health benefits from cutting the fat out of your diet. Another study illustrates all of the harmful effects on the body when you cut out the fat, so you should really cut out the sugar because, ironically, Harvard says so.
So what should you do? Cut out the fat or cut out the sugar? Is the answer in the Paleo diet, Mediterranean foods, Subway, gastric bypass surgery, pills, juicing 3 pounds of kale and eating 12 bananas a day? Who should you trust? Harvard? Researchers? Your doctor? Your local yoga instructor? A support group? You could argue with yourself that research doesn’t lie, but then how can it show so many different and opposing outcomes?
The truth: Research does not lie, but people do. And for enough money, research can show whatever it wants. Is this a conspiracy? Perhaps it is; but I’ll take my chances on not taking the advice from an industry that only makes money if I’m sick and confused.
One thing that you can trust, however, is your individual physiology. Sure, you can follow the latest diet craze, but you can only trick your body for so long before it screams out to you that you need something else. For instance, you may swear by the Paleo diet and truly see health benefits: losing weight, feeling more clear-headed and energized, lower cholesterol levels, and more. But, after years into the diet, you start losing your hair, your cholesterol rises, your hormones are on a roller coaster, and your thyroid gland is almost non-functioning. (This is purely an example that I’ve seen happen to individuals.) That's not to say that all Paleo experts have bad intentions, but research outcomes can still be misleading.
So now what do you do?
I’m glad you asked. For so long we’ve been depriving ourselves and cutting out vital nutrients and life-giving behaviors. Why cut out calories (i.e., energy/fuel) and run off of stress hormones? Does it make sense to try to drive your car across the country with no gas in it? We’ve been misguided to look to others to take responsibility for a lifetime of unquestioned and unchallenged actions when it comes to health. The good news is that you can take back control and responsibility for your life simply by questioning and paying attention.
1) Start listening to your gut.
2) Pay attention to how you feel after eating a meal or skipping a meal or macronutrient (i.e., protein, carb, or fat). Do you feel bloated, tired, and/or have a headache or stomach ache? Did that meal give you energy?
3) Avoid anything processed and any product that contains more than 5 ingredients, especially those of which you cannot pronounce.
4) Eat real fruits and root vegetables.
5) Eat quality meats, broths, seafood, gelatin, and other anti-inflammatory proteins.
6) Eat saturated fats like coconut oil, butter, ghee, and tallow.
7) Focus on quality: organic, free-range, grass-fed, local, cage-free, etc.
8) Focus on quantity: relative ratios of protein, carbohydrate, and fat.
9) Drink quality water like Evian, FIJI, and other spring waters.
10) Pay attention to your movement: Do you exercise? Are you exercising too much? How well do you recover from a workout? Do you have pain and/or soreness in your body?
13) Take time to do things for yourself.
The above is not a comprehensive list by any means, but it’s a good starting point to help evaluate your lifestyle. As always, you have to do what you feel is right for you. You may not be happy about needing to incorporate new behaviors in your life, but I have found that the truth heals more than it hurts.
Many Americans are under the assumption that the only way to lose weight is to eat less and move more. NOT TRUE. Let's debunk this thought through physiology.
Exercise is a stressor, and when the body is stressed, it needs to eat MORE in order to fuel the body and to recover what it loses during times of stress. The body further becomes stressed when it does not have enough food because it experiences this as a famine. If you're moving more and eating less, you're essentially putting less gas in the car before driving across the country--this won't happen without stress, dysfunction, and eventual breakdown.
Furthermore, when the human body is stressed, say by moving more and not eating enough, this is what happens:
- Cholesterol production increases
- Cortisol and other stress hormones are released
- Blood sugar can spike and drop, causing light-headedness and fainting spells
- Headaches become more frequent
- Hair can fall out
- and the chaos continues....
Furthermore, the body will hold onto fat and eat its own muscle tissue if it does not have enough food to continue functioning, and muscle tissue is the ONLY metabolic tissue that burns fat. Connect the physiological dots....
So if the goal is to lose fat, one must build and keep muscle; and that will only happen if given the proper amount of recovery through food and rest.
Eat well, hydrate well, sleep well, think well, move well, act well, be well...THIS is the way to create health: focusing on the whole body and the entire picture.
Oh, and if you're losing weight by eating less and moving more, you may just be losing precious muscle tissue, not fat.
Let's trim the fat:
Losing weight can be vastly different from becoming healthier and thinner. Most people use the scale as a direct measure of their weight loss and/or dieting "success". There is a problem here.
The best way to lose fat is to gain muscle, period.
Therefore, if you are depriving yourself of food and remain hungry or malnourished throughout the day, you may lose weight, but you are losing lean muscle tissue, not fat.
The truth is that if you have improper eating habits, your body will eat it's own muscles in order to provide energy to operate. The body always sacrifices long-term health in the name of short-term survival.
Thus, you must eat nutrient-dense foods, frequently, for your body to lay off of your muscles and go after those fat pounds. Yes, the scale may go up (temporarily) from gaining dense, fat-burning muscle tissue, but you will certainly be healthier and look better naked.
Beans, beans, they're good for your heart; the more you eat them, the more you...create a sluggish metabolism.
When it comes to eating the right protein sources, grains, lentils, soy, and beans tend to be low quality nutrients and contain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which can greatly slow down energy production in the body.
These "protein" sources lower protein digestion, reduce mineral (i.e., calcium, zinc, etc.) absorption, decrease oxygen intake in your cells (decreased energy), and contain phytoestrogens, which increase your level of estrogen in your body.
Increasing your estrogen levels (whether you're male or female) causes edema (swelling/bloating), increases cortisol (stress hormone), creates blood sugar instabilities, and much more. So your body isn't bloating just for sh*ts and giggles...it's telling you something.
Although eating the right kind of protein decreases estrogen and many other anti-metabolic factors, it does not mean to increase your animal protein intake by 10. Consuming high-quality, non-inflammatory protein plays an essential role in the body; however, too much protein, not enough carbohydrate, and vice versa, all contribute to blood sugar instabilities.
The key is to keep meals balanced and frequent to normalize blood sugar, stabilize hormones, decrease inflammation, increase absorption and nourishment, and create a healthier metabolism for increased energy.
So you can tell your grains, soy, lentils, and beans to go bloat themselves.