Thereâs a lot of confusing information out there when it comes to weight loss.
My goal for with this article is to simplify dieting, whether you are motivated by aesthetic or health reasons.
This is of course not a medical advice - just sharing what has worked for me. Before you start any new exercise or diet program, I recommend that you seek medical advice from your personal physician.
First lets go over how all diets work: whether you swear by intermittent fasting, weight watchers, Keto, low carb, the whole 30 or whatever new diet is trending right now, know, that every diet works the same way. They put you in a caloric deficit by either limiting the your window available to eat, this is how intermittent fasting works, or restricting your food choices, this is how Atkins, Keto, Paleo works, or restricting the amount you can eat through the day, this is how meal plans and Weight Watchers work.
There are no âmagicâ diets. They all âworkâ if you eat less than what you burn.
A lot of people have this problem when theyâre starting out - they start eating healthy, eating clean, however they never lose any weight.
Nutrient content matters, and there are studies out there that show people who eat highly processed foods eat more in general than people eating unprocessed foods, but if you are still overeating you will not lose weight.
You still must be aware of energy values as some foods can be calorie dense.
For example a banana is quite high in carbs, and nuts are super high in fat. They're both clean, healthy and unprocessed, however if you tend to overeat them you will not lose weight.
In my opinion food shouldnât be categorized as good or bad. Every food is good and you should eat everything, except of course if
you have an allergy or an intolerance.
Your calorie intake will determine whether youâre gaining, maintaining, or losing weight. Macros determine your body composition and they need to be adjusted according to your lifestyle and sports you are playing.
What are macronutrients? Theyâre the three categories of nutrients: proteins, carbs or fat that youâre consuming. Every food we eat is made up of some ratio of protein, carbs and fats.
1 gr protein is 4 kcal
1 gr fat is 9 kcal
1gr carbs is 4 kcal
1gr alcohol is 7 kcal
So what is the simplest way to lose weight?
The least restrictive and most accurate way to lose weight in my opinion and keep the weight off is to actually track how much you are eating, how many calories you are taking in in a day.
Counting your macros or calories will:
#1 within reason allow you to eat whatever and whenever
you want thought the day, because remember, the timing and the frequency of your meals doesnât matter as long as you are not overeating for the day.
#2 you can eat ur favorite foods, you don't need to limit yourself to the traditional diet stuff if you don't want to.
#3 it helps to improve your understanding of nutrition, identify places you could optimize your diet.
#4 brings awareness to portion sizes and teaches you to eat for your goals, especially if you are an athlete.
This is a large topic on its own, but just in general for losing weight or if you are someone suffering from binging / overeating or if you go to the gym and lift weights I recommend consuming a diet higher in protein and if you
are someone that enjoys cardio you will benefit from eating more carbs.
This is the most important part: when you first start out I suggest eating solid meals around your maintenance calories for 2-3 weeks. This will help you normalize your eating, help you learn portion control and your body will also get used to eating less.
And actually a lot of people will lose weight just eating their maintenance, because theyâve been eating a lot more before. Then starting week 3 - 4, i suggest taking off 50-100-150 calories max from your maintenance calories.
I think the biggest mistake people make is that they start out with a large deficit that they are not able to maintain. It happens very frequently that we calculate someoneâs maintenance calories and letâs say it is 2200. And they come back a week later saying proudly "oh Iâm only eating 1200 a day", then week 3 they give up because its too hard.
Itâs actually not hard, but you have to think conservatively, in terms of months or even a year, not days and weeks. Crash diets don't work.
Think this is a marathon, or ironman, not a casual 5K in the neighborhood.
How to tackle binge eating? Binging almost always comes from some sort of restriction. Its either that you are not eating enough or you follow a diet thatâs too restrictive (FE you stopped eating your favorite foods, and switched to diet stuff that you actually don't like. Or you go too long btw meals, or you are not eating after 6pm but go sleep super late etc.)
As for triggers, it can be your mentality, emotions, stress, anxiety, or a lot of people eat mindlessly bc theyâre bored.
In order to overcome binging and overeating I suggest that, first try to track your diet for a couple weeks and see if you can recognize a pattern. Also try to find the cause and find your triggers, and see what you can improve.
However, if your triggers are mood swings, anxiety, depression I suggest seeking professional help either from a Chinese Medicine practitioner that can help balance your body and emotions, or you can also take the conventional route and seek help from a registered dietitian or mental health professional specializing in binging / eating disorders. Just know that help is available and don't be afraid to reach out.
Cheat days? Same goes with âcheat days / cheat mealsâ instead of having a full cheat day, and then feel guilty about it, I suggest that you include whatever you crave within your daily calories and move some macros around to make it fit. For example you crave a bag of Skittles, have your Skittles and trade carbs for carbs, protein for protein, fat for fat. So eat less bread or potatoes or whatever your carb sources are.
How important is exercise for weight loss? I had this conversation with a patient, he recently increased his cardio in order to get in shape. If you enjoy cardio - by all means go for it - but don't think itâs necessary.
You must understand that if you want to lose weight or lose fat then diet is how you primarily do it.
You can run a marathon every day, but if you are eating more than that you are not going to lose weight, you will just be exhausted.
Also - Cardio is great for heart health and itâs so relaxing to spend time outside, however cardio actually doesnât build, shape or tone the body.
caloric deficit + weights = lean, toned, shapely body
caloric deficit + cardio = skinny body
caloric deficit + weights + cardio = shredded body
I don't have time for this...
I get this a lot too. No real advice just tough love here: but we all have time - If you canât find time, then thatâs a failure in your time management skills, and you need to reconsider your priorities.
And of course your health should always be a top priory.
Just to put things into perspective, this whole tracking thing doesnât take more than 15min a day. And keep in mind, you do not necessarily need to get too crazy with tracking your diet. The most important is that you normalize your eating, stop obsessing around food, have a general awareness of your food intake and learn proper portion sizes and you can take a break. If things get out of control, when you notice that your belly rolls are filling back in, you simply return to it and start tracking again.
Remember: discipline, not deprivation is the secret to keeping the weight off.
âSo get your nutrition down, create your deficit, be consistent and in time you will get your result.
I posted about this a while back - read it here - Chinese Medicine does not advocate fasting or frequent detoxification regimes because these practices tend to deplete the body’s vital energy. Fasting stresses the body, forcing it to operate on stored nutrients. Just eat healthy and exercise so you won't ever have to detox. (What is exactly a healthy diet?)
Below is a great New York Times article on Juices and Colon Cleanses:
Misconception: Juice cleansing can remove toxins from your system.
Actually: To say that drinking juice detoxifies the body isn’t quite the same as claiming leeches suck out poisons, but it’s fairly close.
The practice of cleansing has become as ubiquitous as the use of hand sanitizer. Celebrities do it. Spas offer it. Fancy food stores sell pricey bottles of juice to accomplish it, and a $700 juicer will soon facilitate the process for those who are not satisfied with the current D.I.Y. options. But what is it that everybody is trying to remove from their bodies? Is there any science behind it?
“People are interested in this so-called detoxification, but when I ask them what they are trying to get rid of, they aren’t really sure,” said Dr. James H. Grendell, the chief of the division of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. “I’ve yet to find someone who has specified a toxin they were hoping to be spared.”
Toxins exist. Doctors typically define them as something that enters the body that has a damaging effect on its own — like pesticides, lead or antifreeze — or in large quantities, like alcohol or medications such as acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol.
But for the most part, the body handles toxins just fine on its own.
“The human body is well designed to eliminate wastes and toxins, and a number of organs play a role,” Dr. Grendell said.
The kidneys and the liver do the main removal work. They draw substances out of the bloodstream and process them for the body to excrete as feces and urine.
When asked what about this process would be helped by juice, Dr. Grendell seemed at a loss.
“It’s hard to understand because there is no good scientific evidence that a juice cleanse, or any other food for that matter, is particularly relevant to removing toxins,” he said.
This isn’t to say that drinking vitamin-rich, antioxidant-filled vegetable juice can’t be beneficial for one’s health, he added, or function as an effective tool for weight loss or resetting one’s habits. It’s the vague talk of toxins that reminds doctors of leeches.
Dr. Antoinette Saddler, a gastroenterologist at the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences, agreed to read through one of many blog posts available online about cleansing. She said she was perplexed from the beginning.
A juice diet rests the stomach, it claimed.
“Why does the stomach need resting?” she asked
She read further. Juices require less of the stomach’s digestive processing, it said.
“Who said that was beneficial?” she said.
And then she got to the inevitable detox claim: Juicing “allows the body to have more of the resources it needs to support the phases of detoxification, and even to begin to help remove the cumulative toxins stored in the body.”
“What does that even mean?” she said. Exasperated, she stopped reading.
The blog post was actually written by a doctor, Dr. Woodson Merrell, the author of the book, “The Detox Prescription.” Reached by phone in his Manhattan office, Dr. Merrell, who practices a mix of Western medicine and indigenous traditions, such as Chinese medicine, seemed resigned to dismissive attitudes from gastroenterologists.
Dr. Merrell said what it comes down to for him is that Americans need to eat more vegetables, period. If juicing is the path to that, great.
“The whole thing about juice is it makes that easier to get. And it’s easily digestible and absorbable,” he said.
As for resting the stomach, he believes well-chewed food is as good as juice, but most people don’t chew well.
“I’m a fanatic about chewing,” he said.
For Dr. Merrell, juice — like any healthful food — provides nutrients that help the liver process toxins, much like grease on a gearshaft. He warned that juice should be thick and contain all parts of the fruit or vegetable, including fiber.
“I’m not talking about some thin watery juice,” he said.
But he also acknowledged that cleansing “has been so overly hyped. Lots of people making wild claims of things.”
Similar confusion enters the realm of the colon cleanse, another planet in the detox galaxy. But colon cleanses, which can come as herbal remedies in the form of pills or teas or blended drinks, and sometimes as enemas, don’t push out toxins any more than juice.
“I understand the intuitive appeal of using these colon cleanses — ‘Get the toxins out, make your abdomen feel better,’” Dr. Saddler said.
But that intuition leads one down the wrong road, scientifically.
Stool is actually beneficial to the lining of the colon. Increasingly, doctors are even tapping into its benefits, she said, for example transplanting stool from healthy people into the guts of sick people.
“The idea that stool is somehow poisonous and toxic is very misguided thinking,” she said.