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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Calorie In/Calories Out is BS - Part 2

We know the reasons the calories in, calories out theory is flawed. We know most traditional methods of weight loss, such as counting calories or starting an exercise program don't work. (click here to read part 1 of this article detailing why traditional calorie counting methods don't work)

But what should we do if we need to lose weight? The best long term solutions for weight loss are those that reduce the amount of calories consumed without restricting caloric intake. In other words:

"We need to eat less while still allowing ourselves to eat as much as we'd like.

I know this sounds stupid, I know it sounds illogical, but this is the key to long term weight loss. If we consume less calories without actually restricting them we avoid all the problems associated with diets. You won't feel hungry all the time, because you will eat whenever you are hungry. Your metabolism won't slow down and you will not have reduced energy levels, because your brain recognizes that you are eating whenever you'd like. No starvation response will ever be triggered. 

But how can we subconsciously eat less when we are consciously eating as much as we want? Several approaches have shown promise, both in research settings and in the real world.

1)  Exercise

I know, I know, I already said starting an exercise program isn't an effective fat loss strategy. But there are ways to tweak the approach that can help us loss weight without ever counting a calorie or skipping a dessert. While exercise doesn't cause weight loss directly through the calories burned, it does have a host of benefits that can have a positive impact on our body composition.

Exercise has a powerful, positive effect on mood, stress levels, and self-esteem and has been studied extensively as a treatment for depression and other mood disorders. Exercise makes us feel better, and when we feel better, we make better food choices.

But as we've already discussed, there are many pitfalls to exercise. Typically people compensate for the calorie burn of exercise by subconsciously eating more during the rest of the day.

"The key is to exercise enough to fell better without exercising so much that you work up an appetite."

When implementing a program start very small. If you currently don't exercise, begin with 15 to 20 minutes, two or three days per week. You shouldn't dread it either - remember, we are trying to make you feel better, not worse. Killing yourself will be counter productive.

After two weeks assess how you feel. Do you have more energy throughout the day? Do you sleep better on the days you exercise? Are you beginning to look forward to your workouts?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you are on the right track. You can begin to increase the intensity and duration of your workouts, but do so cautiously.

If the answers are all "no" change what you are doing. It's not working. 

2) Sleep

Lack of adequate sleep negatively effects mood and energy levels. And if we feel like crap and have no energy, we are not likely to make good food choices. This is why poor sleep patterns are almost universally linked to weight gain. If you don't get enough sleep, fix the problem and you will likely lose weight without ever watching what you eat.

Go to bed at the same time every night. Wake up at the same time every morning. Make sure your room is very dark. Even the light from a LED alarm clock or cell phone charger can disrupt sleep. If all else fails see your doctor and schedule a sleep study. Your lack of sleep may be due to a medical condition such as sleep apnea.

3)  Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF for short) means alternating periods of fasting with periods of eating. For example, you might eat only between 5pm and 8pm each evening or alternate days of eating with days of fasting.

IF has shown great promise lately as an effective and healthy fat loss program. Animal studies have shown that alternate day feeding increases insulin sensitivity, improves blood lipid profiles, and causes greater fat loss that traditional calorie restriction. And in the real world, many people report amazing results using IF.

To avoid the pitfalls, start slow. For a week, skip breakfast and eat normally the rest of the day. When your get accustomed to that, try postponing your first meal until late afternoon. Eventually, try eating for only two hours each day. For most people eating your only meal at night works best. Many people find it hard to sleep when they are hungry. And late night snacking is the downfall of most people anyway. By eating your meal shortly before you retire you don't give yourself a chance to cheat.

While IF may sound extreme, it is definitely a program worth trying.

4)  The Paleolithic diet

The Paleo diet focuses on food quality. Meals include unprocessed, natural foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and tubers. This diet also minimizes unnatural and potentially unhealthy chemicals and hormones, forgoing factory farmed foods and instead choosing grass fed, hormone free beef, pastured poultry, and organically grown fruits and vegetables. The diet is free of grains, legumes, and dairy products (which can be irritating to the gut), effectively eliminating all processed foods from the diet.

"Research shows that people who follow this eating plan tend to reduce their caloric intake even though they are permitted to eat as much as they'd like.

One potential downfall of this approach is the need for meal planning and preparation. Eating out, although possible, is difficult. Most common snacks foods, such as cheese sticks, crackers, chips, and low fat yogurt, as well as most convenience foods, are not allowed. But if you enjoy cooking and typically prepare your own meals already, this approach is for you.

Follow these links for more information and sample meal plans.

5)  Exercise, part 2

Another counter intuitive but highly effective way to lose weight is to try and gain muscle. Adding muscle mass helps aid in fat loss through two primary mechanisms. First, it increases increases insulin sensitivity by increasing the amount of insulin receptors in your body. This essentially gives you more places to "deposit" any excess calories you consume, reducing the amount "deposited" in your fat cells. Second, muscle mass increase energy expenditure. Add a few pounds of muscle and you will burn more calories throughout the day, regardless of activity level.

To maximize increases in muscle mass perform weight training with moderate weights near the point of muscle failure. Take adequate rest between sets, typically two to five minutes. Stretch each muscle group you trained deeply when you are done.

"Even 30 minutes, three days a week can have a dramatic effect when implemented properly."

If at first your weight doesn't budge don't get discouraged. You can rest assured that you are losing fat and gaining muscle. Make sure to track the changes in your body with skin-fold testing, circumference measurements, and photos. Eventually you will start losing weight on the scale but in the meantime feel good about how good your arms look in that sleeveless shirt and much your waist measurement has dropped.
Follow this link for effective muscle building programs for both men and women.

6)  Cut carbohydrates

People on a low carbohydrate, Atkins type diet, are allowed (even encouraged) to eat as much as they want, as long as they avoid carbohydrate containing foods. But when compared to calorie restricted, low fat dieters they eat less daily calories.

In effect, low carb but calorie unlimited dieters actually reduce "calories in" more than those dieters who are consciously trying to do so!

"When it comes to fat loss, this spontaneous, subconscious calorie restriction is just what the doctor ordered."

If cutting all the bread, pasta, and sweets out of your diet seems impossible, start with only your first meal of the day. As you adapt eliminate carbohydrates from lunch and eventually from dinner. And contrary to popular belief, an occasion indulgence does not mean impending doom. Just get back on track as quickly as possible.
Alternately, you can "eat half". At every meal, eat only half of the bread, pasta, corn, potato, rice, or other grain. If you have dessert, make sure you share it with a friend or family member. Still hungry? Load up on meat and veggies. Even modest reductions in carbohydrate intake can have a positive effect on body weight.

Putting it all together

There they are - six ways to eat less without trying to eat less. Include one or more of them into your lifestyle for fat loss success. Please feel free to call or email me for help or to report your success stories.

In Good Health

John Kuzora
1976 S. Main St
Wake Forest, NC 27587
(919) 435-1960

Kuzora Fitness - innovate and effective fitness and nutrition solutions for a time pressed world