I’ve lived on both sides of the coin, I understand some of the misconceptions, and fallacies of health. There’s a common misbelief that if you eat clean you get lean. Just like on the other side who say all you have to do is watch your numbers and you can eat whatever you want. We see it everywhere people preaching you can eat whatever you want just stay within your macros. Or the eat green and clean.
Health can be summed up in one word, Awareness. Awareness of what you’re eating, how much you’re eating and why you’re eating.
Despite all the health advice in the world, there is still a weight issue and it’s not because either side is innately wrong. The problem is they are extremes. They take the knowledge given to them to the absolute extreme. Lets take the IIFYM (if it fits your macros) method of approach. This approach tells you as long as you stay within your daily macros and calories it doesn’t really matter where the food comes from. Now this approach isn’t completely incorrect nor does it not work, it is effective in weight loss and weight gain.
That is because in the very simple sense,
The ONLY irrefutable truth for weight loss or weight gain is that in order to gain muscle you need to be in a calorie surplus, and in order to lose fat you must be in a calorie deficit.
Now the real problem with this method is that it neglects the thousands of other bodily factors such as hormones; cortisol, insulin, leptin, grelin, thyroid, adrenal. Or the other factors like current body state due to prior habits, and current health of the body. Now the biggest thing it neglects is the Gut Micro Biome, which has been found (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25394236) that the makeup of our gut is similar to that of a rainforest ecosystem. We know it is very, very diverse but what we know is very limited right now . Now with all of our hormones to work with, we know have our gut micro biome to deal with. That is why the 2-dimensional approach of calories in and calories out does not solve all the problems. It’s not that the approach can’t and isn’t effective, it’s that it’s only a band aid to the overall problem. Telling someone who is unhappy with their body that they can keep eating the same thing and just count numbers, is like giving someone a prescription. The problem is that once the prescription runs out and you stop keeping track it’s very easy to slip back.
I’m not saying tracking is bad, because understanding how much you’re eating, and how much calories you usually eat in a given day opens your mind to awareness. I believe tracking for a period of time can be very helpful in opening our eyes and mind.
Side Thought: If you have any gut issues, are a little more over weight than normal, then eat fermented foods or take a probiotic to help cure your gut micro biome problem. This will help fight the bad bacteria.
The calories in calories out is one of biggest causes of the current yo-yo dieting. That’s why so many people who lose weight or gain it, rubber band back to where they start or worse. Then following that rubber band back, it’s usually worse and it puts your body in a worse state making change harder later.
That doesn’t mean that just because our body is complicated that the approach to changing it is just as complicated. On the contrary it’s really simple, and the fact is many of us know it, we just aren’t doing it. The goal is to take your body and it’s health in a 4-dimensional approach. Accepting that there is a lot that affects it and it is complicated because as a species we do not know all of the answers. However we do have a lot of the answers.
The reason green and clean eating isn’t a be all end all solution. I call it green and clean, not as an attack on vegetarians but more of an awareness that just because you “think” you eat right, chances are you aren’t completely eating right. That’s because first of all even though a plant based lifestyle is healthy, deciding to completely remove meat is a lifestyle choice on religion not complete science. It’s not that meat isn’t unhealthy, because it is in huge amounts and poor quality meat is unhealthy. It’s that time and time again we have proven meat itself is not the core problem. Not only that, but going back to the irrefutable truth, even if your eating green if you’re overeating in calories you will still get fat. Not only that but your body can only consume a certain amount of micronutrients a day. Though it isn’t super simple to reach that amount, it’s not like one small salad will hit it, it’s being aware that helps.
I will however say I respect those who take a more natural plant based approach because majority of what they do is very healthy and correct. The problem arises with the companies and government we have who market wrong advice. If you’ve ever looked at food that says diet, lite, all natural etc. many times those choices are unhealthy or worse than the counterparts. Most lite salad dressing is very unhealthy because of the oils and chemicals used. That’s why it is important to become more aware as an individual.
4-Dimensional Awareness Approach
The definition of awareness is the state or condition of being aware; having knowledge; consciousness. It is putting your body and mind in a proactive state instead of a reactive state.
This means not just eating to eat, because here’s the deal food is fuel. Although I love eating for the taste I know truly deep down food is fuel. When you eat for pleasure you don’t eat for fuel, you eat for short term benefits. Those short term benefits will steal your energy and will hurt you in the long run.
The trick is to eat for enjoyment not for pleasure. Yes, there is a difference. The definition of enjoyment is defined as the action of possessing and benefiting from something. Whereas pleasure is defined as being used or intended for entertainment rather than business or the FEELING OF SATISFACTION. See the problem is you’re assuming the action and process of eating for pleasure will promote real true satisfaction. The problem is that it won’t. Eating for pleasure may give you the feeling of satisfaction in the moment but 30-60 minutes later that satisfaction is gone and you’re back where you started.
Deepak Chopra takes this approach by asking why are you hungry? He says that many times we as humans take normal eating and turn it into overeating for implied fulfillment. Many times we are eating because our emotions, dissatisfaction, or we succumb to the horrible trait desire. Sometimes we use food as a way to try to overcome emotions, situations, events, or pass time.
How to combine for the Best of Both Worlds
If you want to lose fat you now know how, eat less calories than you burn. If you want to gain weight/muscle then eat more calories than you burn. Combine that method with eating real food and you have the formula for success. Become more aware of what you eat, how much you eat, and why you are eating.
Here’s the key, if you want to lose weight, eat in a 20-25% calorie deficit. If you want to gain muscle without gaining fat eat in a 2,000 calorie surplus.
Formula for daily calories
The Mifflin-St Jeor Formula
Men: (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age in years) + 5 = BMR
Women: (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age in years) – 161 = BMR
- Sedentary people (desk job, very little physical activity or almost none at all) BMR x 1.2 = TEE
- Lightly active (desk job, sports or working out 3 times a week + other light activities) BMR x 1.35 = TEE
- Active (standing up or walking several hours a day, sports or gym 3-4 times a week + other light activities) BMR x 1.55 = TEE
- Very active (physical labour + working out 3-4 times a week or 5-7 intense workouts per week) BMR x 1.75 = TEE
TEE = Total Energy Expenditure (Maintenance Calories)
BMR = Basal Metabolic Rate (You don't want to drop below this threshold in calories)
The reason eating clean is important while keeping an awareness of the quantity is because when you eat nutrient dense meals you can eat more food. When you eat nutrient dense, real food it has less calories, more nutrients, and it’s more filling. You heard that correct, when you eat better you can eat more. That however does not give you a complete free reign on eating whenever and whatever. That’s because lets be honest, you don’t need to eat all the time. Eat till you feel good not full.
The first error many people make is they eat till they're full. The next mistake people make they eat every time they think they're hungry. Don’t mistake hunger for food though, many times you are probably thirsty. Learn to drink more often. Eat when you need it. Eat real food, nutrient dense sources. You will be able to eat more often, bigger meals, and feel more full.
The types of food you should eat in declining amounts (based off size on the plate)
Real whole food is the best, the types of food that doesn't have a label, or that you can understand the ingredients. If you don’t understand most of the ingredients or the list is like 20 words long it probably isn’t healthy. You should be able to understand what is on the ingredient panel.
Ultimately being aware of what you’re eating, how much you’re are eating and why you’re eating is the solution. Chopra defines how overeating as a lack of fulfillment. That we slide from normal eating to overeating because of a bad environment, stress, poor relationships, or other emotional imbalance. Learn to realize and focus on why you are eating. Take a step back, ask yourself am I really hungry or am I eating for an emotion or fulfillment. Again, you may also be thirsty.
When you do eat make sure you keep an eye on the amount. This doesn’t mean you have to track if you don't want to, although if want to lose fat or gain muscle you may need to. Tracking for a couple weeks could help you bring more awareness. It’s easy you don't have to track every little thing but most of the major foods you eat. Use a scale or the ingredient panel and myfitnesspal.
Overall though make sure you eat to satisfy not to fill. Then become aware of what you are eating. Make sure it is real whole food. Forgo the unnecessary amount of salt, sugar, processed fake forms of food. Remember awareness of; what you are eating, how much you are eating and why you are eating is the key to good nutrition and health.
If you want a more step by step blueprint, or more in depth guide, then grab my free guide.
What are your thoughts ?
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Please Note: The author of this site is not engaged in rendering professional advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures, and suggestions contained within this work are not intended as a substitute for consulting with your physician. All matters regarding your health require medical supervision. The author shall not be liable or responsible for any loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or suggestions within this blog. You, as a reader of this website, are totally and completely responsible for your own health and healthcare.