You’ve been lied to.
Fat doesn’t make you fat.
The Greatest Mistake of Dieters
When the body gets used to running on fat for fuel, it will want to use your fat stores for more energy.
When the body gets used to running on carbohydrate, it leaves body fat alone in favor of using more carbs.
Since we can’t store very much carbohydrate, a carb-focussed body will soon ask for an outside source (the feeling of sharp, consuming hunger), and store the excess as body fat.
If you cut down the fat in your diet too much, you’ll need to eat more carbs to keep from keeling over.
A carb-focussed body is in a vicious cycle of demanding carbs, converting the excess to body fat, being unable to use that fat for fuel, and demanding yet more carbs.
Hunger – overeat – crash – repeat.
Be a Fat-Burner
A body that is primed for using fat as fuel is in what we like to call “fat-burning mode”.
To be in fat burning mode, you need to do two things:
Cut the carbs right down.
Increase healthy fat and protein.
This might be the biggest reason for people’s terrible experience trying to lose weight. To tell someone to eat more fat in order to lose fat on their body sounds like heresy.
But remember: A body that’s used to burning fat will… burn more fat!
And make you less hungry in the process.
Most people these days are never nourished.
They’re only ever full.
When the food you eat is calorie-dense but otherwise barren, expect the same thing.
A piece of cake is confusing to the body. There’s a ton of energy in each slice, but barely anything else. This never happens in nature. Not knowing how best to handle it, the body responds to the high energy content and signals to the brain that it’s full (we hope), but that feeling doesn’t last for long. Soon it becomes clear there was nothing else in there, so more signals are sent to the brain, this time to eat more stuff.
The natural response to malnourishment is hunger, and in the West, we are the most well-fed malnourished people in the world.
To buck this trend and get control over your hunger and cravings, you need to lay a foundation of nutrient density. Or in other words: Eat great food.
Focus on getting a high nutrient to calorie ratio.
This doesn’t mean to under-eat calories. You need to get enough energy (preferably from natural fat and protein) that your body doesn’t start panic-storing the excess, but make sure that for every calorie you eat, you’re getting loads of nutrition.
Here are some examples of foods with a high nutrient content:
- Animal Foods:
- Liver (an incredible multivitamin)
- Wild or grass-fed red meat
- Grass-fed butter
- Wild or low-mercury fish
- Oysters and other shellfish
- Swiss chard
- Bok choy
- Collard greens
- Bell peppers
- Fruits, Nuts and Seeds:
- Berries of all kinds
- Macadamia nuts (the best nut)
- Most other nuts and seeds
As a rule of thumb, if your plate looks like a pile of stuff that has recently been harvested, you’re moving in the right direction.
How Much You Need to Exercise
Don’t exercise to burn calories.
Instead, exercise to signal to the body that you need to be fit.
It’s not a case of tilting the ‘energy equation’ in the favor of weight loss. It’s a case of building the body into one that is primed for strength and movement.
This is great news for us! It means that we don’t have to spend nearly as much time in the gym as the fitness mags would like to convince us.
If you want to get the most out of your workout,
Make it intense.
Take time to repair.
Train to grow muscle mass, to increase strength. I’m talking to the ladies here, too. Your biology most probably won’t let you bulk out to Ms Olympia. To get slender, get strong. It helps.
Workout sessions don’t have to be hours long. In fact, if you can still move after 30 minutes of training, you’re not pushing hard enough for maximum benefit.
You also don’t need to focus on every muscle group. Again, the fitness mags like to complicate things by suggesting that any muscle you don’t specifically target will wither away, even if the muscles around it are huge.
The fundamentals of weight training are really all you need. Perform these five simple, big movements.
Perform these movements to failure, meaning you keep doing them until you can’t manage one more rep, and you won’t need to spend more than two hours a week in the gym.
What about cardio?
Cardio, or “aerobic exercise”, is not nearly as powerful for the amount of time you need to put into it. You get much less bang for your buck with low intensity exercise. But it’s still great to do, and it doesn’t get in the way of your recovery time between high-intensity sessions, so what are we to do?
My strong suggestion: Have fun with it!
Have fun like you used to when you were a kid. Make it social, work up a sweat, and develop a new stress-relieving hobby! Playful activities are the best way to unwind, and get us away from the temptation of endless channel surfing.
The Sneaky Gremlins of Weight Gain
You’re an individual, and uniquely different to anyone else who has ever, or will ever exist.
The problem with this is that it means the many smaller factors involved in weight gain might not be so small for you.
For example, you might be particularly susceptible to stress, and an unforgiving work schedule might be what’s keeping on the pounds, no matter what diet or exercise regime you attempt.
Or, perhaps your body freaks out more than most if it doesn’t get enough sleep, interpreting it as a huge sign of environmental pressures and ample reason to store more calories than normal.
We just can’t be sure what you’ll respond to most, until you take action, that is, and find out for yourself.
While this seems like a bad thing, I see it as the greatest blessing of the journey. Losing weight and getting healthy really kicks you up the backside, and can be the impetus you need to make positive changes in every area of your life, not just the dinner plate.
But the plate is the best place to start. 80% of your results are likely to come from a clean diet. Though it’s hard to put a number on these things, about 10-15% will come from exercise, and the remainder of your results will come from improving stress, sleeping well, keeping close relationships strong and loving, and making time for fun.
Make a Change Today
Since your diet represents 80% of your results, that’s where we need to focus on at the start.
And since 80% of your dietary results will come from cutting out grains and sugar, we’ll focus on that. If you need an explanation of why this is so important, or if you want more information on what else you can do, see the recommended reading at the foot of this page, but realise that if you’re still eating wheat, corn, and sugary snacks, you don’t really need more information – you need to start with those!
The #1 most powerful dietary change is to cut out grains and sugar.
If you’re reading this, you already have the drive to make positive changes, even if it doesn’t feel like it. One of the symptoms of a dirty diet can be mental fog and a persistent case of the blues. That’s why we’re not going to rely on feeling inspired to make it happen.
Instead, we’ll leverage natural behavioural psychology to your own advantage.
If you feel motivated right now, great! Let’s use that feeling as energy to make the changes in your environment that will make it easy for your future self, because let’s face it, the tomorrow-morning-you is not going to feel so sure about this.
Note down these 6 steps you can do now to make clean eating easy for your future self:
1. Plan out tomorrow’s meals, and get the ingredients and recipes ready, or at least easy to find.
2. Tell someone you respect. Get someone on your team and get accountable. Social pressure is one of the most powerful behavioural influencers. It would be crazy not to use it.
3. Get the junk out reach, preferably out of your house. If your family won’t stand for that, at least put it on the top shelf or behind a load of tin cans in the pantry, in a sealed plastic container. Put as many steps as possible between yourself and the temptation.
4. Take out a calendar of this month, and place a big red marker pen near to it. When you’ve gone one day sticking to your goal, put a huge red ‘X’ over the day. After three days, you’ll have a chain, and as that chain grows, so will your pride in yourself, and your resolve to keep going.
5. Make a list of foods to fill your car with next time you go to the store, and make another list of all the best restaurants and cafes in your area that have options you can pick without falling off the wagon.
6. Bookmark your favorite health blogs. There will be times when you need reminding, when you need a top-up of encouragement, or simply some practical advice or technical information. Reach for these blogs before you reach for the comfort food.
These are the sorts of things that moments of motivation and excitement are best used for, because they will bolster you in moments of weakness, and keep you moving towards your goals of slenderness.