The Dangers of Low-Carb and Other "No Calorie Counting" Diets
I've found that the people who rant and rave about rules-based diets that lack calorie counting as a "lifelong solution" (or have been very successful losing weight on these plans) are:
- Loaded up on coffee and stimulants at dangerous levels Suffer from adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues, and hormonal imbalances Reintroduce insulin resistance to their cells (this is a well-documented negative with ketogenic/very low carb dieting)
- Develop an obsessive mentality to cutting out a vilified food group (known as orthorexia nervosa), and end up causing themselves more stress than necessary. Unbeknownst to them, this leads to excess cortisol output (the stress hormone) which is known to increase stomach fat storage and muscle breakdown.
Far from what I would call a "lifelong solution".
Some other "not so great" things:
- It's not easy to remove all carbs or fat or meat or dairy or one of the hundred other fad diets out there. Rather, it's very easy to fall off these plans and get stuck spinning your wheels for weeks, if not months.
- When most people inevitably fall off the diet, even for a moment, they don't realize that it's not the end of the world. They just think that they "screwed up once again" and they binge out of anger and self-hatred. This binging puts on more fat via the high calorie intake, but also because cells are more likely to store excess fat anytime a binge lasts more than a day (which is far too often the case with dieters).
- In other words, if you screw up your diet on a Friday afternoon, do NOT say "ok I'll just start fresh on Monday". That 3 day binge is guaranteed to store a lot of fat, whereas forgiving yourself and starting fresh on Saturday morning will minimize fat gain.
- When a restrictive diet fails, the dieter still hasn't learned the truth about controlling calories and macronutrient intake. So they end up shit outta luck again, ripe to be fooled by the next fad diet.
I'm not saying this to scare you. I'm saying this because it's true.
I've seen and heard of tens of hundreds of people fall prey to the same problem. Being sold on a diet that restricts a certain food group, seeing a lot of initial progress, and then wondering what happened when they plateau and the proverbial rug is pulled out from beneath.
I've also regrettably gone through many bouts of zero-carb dieting, very-low carb dieting (no more than 75 grams a day), very low fat dieting, and more.
And when it's all said and done, there are only 2 possible outcomes:
1. Learning the fundamentals around nutrition and weight loss, and using them with virtual
"oil wells" of success
2. Gaining back all the weight lost and then some, and searching for the next shiny new fad diet
I urge you not to be in the latter group. Stick with the truths that you learn here, and use these strategies for LIFE.
Anyone who is successful in ANY endeavor knows that the fundamentals will always work. And in weight loss, the most fundamental truth is that you must burn more calories than you take in, on a consistent basis. Going too high will cause fat gain or a plateau, and going too low will burn up more muscle than fat (giving the "skinny-fat" look) and ruin your metabolic/hormonal processes.
With that being said, I suggest one of the 2 following options (in both options, eat a minimum of 50-75 grams of carbs per day depending on your body size/activity. Smaller body or less activity = less carbs):
1. Jump right into calorie control (not too high and definitely not too low) as outlined in
Chapter 10, or using the bonus Excel calculator.
2. Mix both methods. Start by eating well 6 days a week, and having 1 "cheat day" per
week. Spend a minimum of 4 weeks, and a max of 12 on this, and then jump right into
calorie control. (Option 2 is laid out in the "Quick Start Guide")
[Important Note: I have given the "mix both methods" option, since I know many people simply will NOT want to start counting calories right away. This method definitely works and is easy to jump into, but it can get taxing on the body and cause plateaus unless closely monitored. Do not do it for more than 12 weeks without a 1-2 week "diet break". For the best long-term results I would start right away with counting calories and fat/protein/carbs a la Option 1.]
In any case, let's talk more about the "what to do" part.
My main philosophy for weight control AND feeling sane/happy/enjoying some "treats" is
centered around the following:
Remove as many processed foods as you can, and fill the rest with "outdoor treats"
It took me some time to really get this through my head, but it had to be done.
For starters, whether it was low-fat, or sugar-free, or low-carb or whatever other marketing mumbo-jumbo was on the box, if it wasn't a natural food, it HAD TO GO.
Anything that had *fake* ingredients got the axe!
I literally threw all the junk out of my cupboard and fridge. This meant all crackers, cookies, soda, bread, pasta, ice cream, chicken nuggets, etc.
And I started from a "blank canvas".
I only kept the simple ONE INGREDIENT FOODS that were in my kitchen. This meant things like frozen chicken/beef/other meat, eggs, olive oil, butter (yes, good ol', delicious butter!), beans, root vegetables and potatoes, rice, etc.!
And I made a pact with myself that I highly suggest you follow too:
Eat as many whole, natural, home-cooked meals as possible, and if, and only if, you are honestly too busy to prepare food, eat outside at some place where you can count calories and protein/fat/carbs. I call these "outdoor treats" since you should be buying them out of the house (meaning there's no junk to binge on inside the house!)
And therein lies one of my personal "secrets" to fat loss.
Kick your own butt as much as you can to cook nutritious meals at home, and if you honestly can't one day? Go to the "big-box" stores that list calories in the store (or if you're ambitious enough, search Google for the store's "Nutrition Facts"). Or go get a junk protein bar (95% of them are filled with unhealthy ingredients). Or hit up some fast food.
If you don't have a meal prepared, go to McDonalds for all I care (though I seriously try not to, for obvious health/food quality reasons).
But I would much rather you grab junk food (with sufficient protein so you can see attractive, lean muscle when the fat disappears) that you can COUNT AND RECORD, rather than grabbing a tub of pasta or big sandwich at some deli, where you have NO idea how much you're eating.
I see the latter of these situations happen ALL the time, especially in the professional settings. (I've worked in corporate finance for 3+ years).
My coworkers, knowing me as the resident "health nut" will say:
"Hey Sayan, I just had this amazing salad from down the block."
"Yeah I got some Mediterranean food today. It's really fresh and organic so I know it'll help me lose weight."
Or hundreds of other similar things, primarily based around the MYTH that "just eating healthy" will help you lose weight.
Sorry bucko, but as I've mentioned a few times already, it's just not that simple.
My awesome, yet misinformed, coworkers don't realize that the "amazing salad" contains dressing poured on at the discretion of the salad guy behind the counter. Or that the Mediterranean food contains lots of hummus, rice/pita, and/or meat, which, may technically be "good for you", but cannot be counted and recorded. And thus does not fit with your weight loss goals.
You may have also noticed an interesting phenomenon in most food establishments. The salad guy behind the counter (or food server in general), doesn't seem to exactly like his/her job. Many a time have I said "just give me a few drops of the olive oil" or "put the dressing on the side please", only to have them give me the proverbial "f*ck you" by dousing my salad in probably 5 tablespoons worth of oil (at 140 calories per tablespoon, that's a cool 700 calories of dressing.)
This ruins everything. We already can't count how many calories are in the meal, we don't know how much protein is in the meal, we have no idea how the protein source has been cooked/prepared, and now we have a gazillion calories of oil or dressing to deal with.
Which brings us back to the main point.
Interested in losing weight? Then click below to see the exact steps I took to lose weight and keep it off for good...
Moving forward, there are several other articles/topics I'll share so you can lose weight even faster, and feel great doing it.
Below is a list of these topics and you can use this Table of Contents to jump to the part that interests you the most.