Are you eating sustainably raised, grass-fed bison, all-natural almond butter, cooking with MCT coconut oil, consuming omega-3 fatty acid freshly caught salmon, juicing freshly pressed kale AND drinking alkaline oxygenated water to balance your body’s pH? And still not losing weight?
You might be focusing on the little rocks.
Let me ask you something:
How many calories are you intaking? (Or ‘inhaling’ for those eating a bit too quickly).
How many calories are you expending? (through exercise).
If you can’t answer those two, that’s where we have a problem.
You might be saying….
But if the math is off, so is your body. And over time, it starts to adapt. If you’re continually providing it with an excess of bon bons every morning, it will store the extra bon bons as fat. You can see this trend with our growing of abundance of food, reflected by rising caloric intake and obesity rates:
You see, whether you start your day off with bulletproof, coconut oiled coffee and sustainably made, all-natural almond butter and kale smoothie or a pack of ho-ho’s and a Mountain Dew (which I do not recommend), the UTMOST scientifically proven nutrition fact remains:
Without a caloric deficit, you cannot lose weight.
To do this, we need to focus on the big rocks. Before we can move forward into thinking small rocks of nutrition, we need to take care of the bigger things first (like our bellies). 70% of Americans are overweight or obese, and the numbers just keep rising. Yet we are in a nutritionally-conscious age full of booming Whole Foods, salad bars and healthy takeaway. So where did we go wrong?
It’s all in the big rocks vs. small rocks. Right now especially, there is a huge emphasis on the small rocks. Whether it’s HIIT or coconut milk vs. almond milk vs. what counts as “sustainable” or “refined grain” or “low sugar,” we’ve lost sight of the undeniably important components to weight loss.
What’s the use in two people arguing over coconut vs. almond milk when they’re both in caloric surplus? What’s the use in considering whether butter is a carb if you’re eating more than you need to? None.
As boring and old-school as these may be (i.e. calories), they are FACT. Neglecting them will get us nowhere. So, let’s begin by returning to the big rocks first.
What are the BIG ROCKS?
Quality: the content of your food – WHAT you’re eating:
- Refined > processed – the more WHOLE foods and minimally processed foods, the better. This means shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store, BUT also does not mean that you must leave out oatmeal, almond or peanut butter, etc. Take this as you please.
- Nutrient dense (higher amount of nutrients per calorie) – this is one to watch for – while an avocado is more highly nutrient dense than a rice cake or a cracker, it does contain more calories – therefore, while this quality component is valuable, it’s even more important to recognize the quantity that you’re eating (as much as I love avocados, probably not the whole avocado!).
- Fibrous and filling – how satiating and satisfying the food is to your belly and your body (veggies and whole grains are especially good for this!). Choosing foods based on this factor of fiber really works – try eating a sweet potato, an apple, or leaves of greens before a meal. You’ll fill up before the real meal even starts!
Quantity: the amount of food you’re consuming – HOW MUCH you eat and how often. While quality is extremely important, focusing on it can turn into small rocks quickly, often before big rocks have been covered. Therefore, quantity is the bottom line to any physique, wellness, or weight goal.
- Overall caloric intake vs. expenditure: calories IN vs. calories OUT. A simple fact of science. To lose: caloric deficit. To maintain: caloric balance. To gain: caloric surplus. Ideally, you will use exercise when creating a deficit. Steps to getting started: Identify your goal body weight, calculate your basal metabolic rate, and adjust accordingly. Please do speak with a professional before doing so. I always advise fat loss over weight loss. Focus on the big rocks, and results will come!
i.e. Supplements, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Dairy-free, Fish-free, Paleo, Low-carb, High-carb, Vegetarianism, Veganism, Alkaline-balance-your-body’s-pH-ism – it’s all religion in the nutrition world. You can be any of these and be healthy, or you can be none of these and still be healthy.
Another small rock: this vs. that in the realm of similar foods: peanut vs. almond butter, what type of tea to drink, what type of protein powder to consume, what type of milk to drink (we’re talking 1% vs. skim, people – buy what you like!), which vegetables to eat (eat any!) – not to mention eating small vs. large meals, nutrient timing (ex. I MUST eat every 3 hours! belief). From what I’ve seen, people get waaaay too wrapped up in this stuff. And then I ask them, do you know HOW MUCH you’re eating?
The thing is, we always like to believe there’s something better out there. In everything. Nutrition-wise, this means it’s searching for another approach. Counting calories, strict meal plans or the “moderate approach” may have not worked for us in the past, so we’ve pushed it to the back burner in search of something new. But the best way to accomplish any goal is by making small, daily changes (even just one!) that we can maintain 3-6-5. Every day of the year. This means taking care of the big rocks first.
In my opinion: The only diet that works is the one that works for YOU.
Let’s call it the #YOUDIET. For weight loss and maintenance, especially: eat what you enjoy (the 80/20 approach – allow yourself those small indulgences), reduce portion sizes (quantity), and consume quality foods. Focus on the big rocks and results will come. This is the most effective and promising way to a long-lasting, sustainable lifestyle. So before you ask me whether you should consume 3 regular meals and 2 regular snacks or 4 smaller meals and 1 larger snack or 2 larger meals and 3 smaller snacks, consider whether you’ve covered the big rocks first.
BONUS! My Recommended Nutrition Resources:
AskGeorgie.com – Georgie Fear, R.D. and Nutrition Coach – offering a habits-based approach backed by her latest book, Lean Habits For Lifelong Weight Loss: Mastering 4 Core Eating Behaviors to Stay Slim Forever!
JillFit.com – Former physique athlete, current online coach and trainer. She advocates Moderation 365, Big Ass Salads, the mindset approach, and killer metabolic workouts!
Alan Aragon – a no B.S. view to nutrition and fitness – this guy will debunk the myths and help you see the light.