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Weight Loss Strategies And Politics -Why They’re Both Failing Us

Something occurred to me after finishing up with another “Lean Code Method Nutrition For Fat Loss” seminar the other night. There’s no denying that a lot of people are simply confused about what REALLY works to lose body fat. The underlying question is why is there so much confusion?

I think this goes way deeper than assuming people don’t know what’s healthy to eat and what’s not. As many people can painfully testify to, a “healthy” diet doesn’t always guarantee weight loss. It’s not that people don’t know that a whole, natural food like a potato is good and the processed and fried version of that food (french fries or potato chips) is bad.

It’s that maybe they’ve been told the potato itself is bad, or perhaps some other natural food like animal protein, saturated fats, or even fruit for crying out loud are the culprits.

Regulating certain foods in the diet for periods of time to accomplish a metabolic objective is one thing (like the case with restricting potatoes or other starches to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity). It’s something else altogether different to pinpoint any natural food as being “bad” and worthy of forever limiting from your diet.

But depending on who you ask, some “so called” nutrition and health experts will attempt to convince you that “X” foods are the real problem. This has caused a great divide with a mix of “camps” where each side claims to have the ONE real answer to weight loss.

This is one of the main reasons I think people are so confused!

I meet with individuals on a daily basis who have bounced from one diet or nutrition philosophy to the next in search of answers. Some positions end up invariably being more convincing than others based on what the individual wants to hear and that’s what they follow at the moment.

That is at least until they crash and abandon the diet or way of eating because of rigidity (trying to be perfect or not deviating from said method).

The various “camps” of weight loss and nutrition philosophies…

One camp says high protein diets are the way to go, another advocates ultra low-carb, there’s vegetarianism, vegan diets, those who say restricting calories is the only thing that matters, and the list goes on.

Each side has their own set of villains or culprits to weight gain that they’ll point to. Eating animal proteins is the problem, or starch carbohydrates, saturated fats, sugars, or whatever.

The experts in each philosophy will use reasoning, intellectual arguments, research, and even morality or spiritual beliefs to vigorously defend their positions.

All of the above becomes a rallying cry for those who jump on the bandwagon and gleefully follow along.

Here’s the thing. In a lot of ways each side may be somewhat right AND wrong at the same time. I think you can compare this to the political factions that seem to divide our country more and more every day. The more we close our minds and insist the other side is wrong on all accounts, the further away we’re likely to get from the truth.

In the realm of diet and nutrition, I think the ONE undeniable fact that seems to get swept under the carpet is that each person is different from the next!

What works well for one person may not necessarily work so hot for someone else. I’ve used simple observation over the last twenty years to come to this conclusion.

How do you explain that some individuals lose body fat FASTER on higher carbohydrate diets, and others on low-carbohydrate diets?

Why do some people seem to fare well on vegan diets, while others struggle and fail miserably?

Each camp will have their own set of reasoning to explain this. “You need to give it more time, you must not be following the diet correctly, you need to try harder, you haven’t gotten in touch with your inner self,” and we could go on and on.

Really?

Maybe, just maybe…that particular way of eating simply isn’t optimal for your genetic expression and body type.

Often times there’s fear or resistance with experimenting because the individual doesn’t want to break rank or give up on the philosophy they’ve bought into. I can see this being human nature and basic psychology when you get down to it.

The thing is I believe this is a monumental MISTAKE!

Each one of us must be open to experimenting and exploring the best ways to fuel and provide our bodies with nutrition.

As a coach and consultant I remind myself daily of this fact. Sure, I’ve got foundational beliefs on diet and nutritional strategies, but I try not to be so rigid in those beliefs that I end up keeping others from finding what works best for them. Having said that, I think there are some universal truths all sides can agree on and rally behind.

Excess weight and degraded health is the result of improper fueling and feeding of the human body. Quite simply imbalances have occurred which led to short circuits in our genetic expression.

Instead of squabbling over one particular God given natural food being better over the other, let’s look at what what we should all be able to agree on…

  • Excess “anything” in the human body be it sugars, proteins, fats, alcohol, toxins, even vitamins and minerals is never a good thing. Anything that is natural has the ability to harm or heal depending on how much is consumed.
  • Processed and refined foods are the enemy to our health. There is no nutritional value to these foods and they serve no purpose other than provide convenience, albeit at the expense of our health.
  • Each individual will have their own set of tolerances to various foods based on genetics, what part of the world their ancestors came from, etc. How can we deny this fact? Some people do fine with dairy, others not so much. The same thing can be said for grains, nuts, seeds, certain fruits, etc.Sure some foods have more likelihood of causing an allergen and irritant effect (like dairy, wheat gluten, etc), but we can’t deny that some people fare better with these foods in their diets than others.A good starting point is to remove the most likely culprits for problems like dairy and grains for a while, then integrate slowly back into the diet one at a time and see how we respond.
  • Anything synthetic and unnatural can cause problems over time depending on the amount consumed and duration. Natural forms of fat like butter and lard will always be more tolerated in moderation than hydrogenated oils, margarine, etc, made in some laboratory.
  • No one particular natural food, food group, or nutrient can be traced back to being the sole culprit to our health problems. The pendulum shifts back and forth from blaming animal proteins, to saturated fats, to starch carbohydrates, and so forth.This is all dogma and hype used to promote one particular belief or diet philosophy. Excesses in any of the above can cause problems when the body is not in balance.
  • Cellular health and function is at the cornerstone of health for every individual. The foods we eat must support a slightly alkaline balance in the body and support cellular detoxification and rejuvenation.Just because one group of foods like fruits and vegetables help more in this process doesn’t necessarily mean all other foods need be left out of the diet completely. Animal proteins and saturated fats don’t lead to chronic illness or disease in a body that is in balance from consuming a broad base of live plant foods.

Do you see where I’m going with all of this? We can point to potential problems with any diet or nutritional strategy if deficiencies are present or the body is allowed to get out of balance.

We need to stop pointing the finger at one food or food group and each other for that matter. Each person will be different to how their body will function with varying amounts of any food.

The key thing is does the way they’re eating support optimal health and function for how THEY want to live their life?

The raw vegan can make a case for how their philosophy is superior to others for longevity, health, spirituality, or whatever, but does this make it ideal for EVERYONE?

What do you say to the person who is thriving on a diet that includes animal proteins along with live plant foods?

What do we say about the person who consumes high amounts of starch carbohydrates from grains, legumes, potatoes, etc, and has the health and function they desire to live life the way they want?

We could go on and on here. I think instead of saying, “hey this way of eating is bad, follow this way it’s better for everyone,” we should look to encourage others to experiment with what works best for them.

“Hey, wait a minute Shane, don’t you advocate a Primal Blueprint Diet?”

Some will read this and counter that I’m being hypocritical because I’m regularly promoting a Primal Blueprint diet.

Let me be clear, just because I’ve found this way of eating to be highly effective for middle age adults looking to lose weight and change their shape (my niche market), doesn’t mean I’d tell someone to NEVER eat rice for example because grains typically aren’t part of Paleo type diets.

There MUST be room to factor in bioindividuality. My rationale is simply if the way you’re eating right now isn’t working for you, change it!

I’ve seen countless examples of a Primal Blueprint diet of lean proteins, greens, vegetables, nuts, seeds, essential fats, and moderate fruits, help middle age adults completely transform the way they look and feel. It works very well with the burst training methods I advocate and teach for exercise.

They found their body thrived on these foods when enough time was allowed for their genetic expression to unfold and body fat setpoints to be reprogrammed. Their body simply didn’t need the excess sugars from grains, other starches, and dairy.

Others hit the sweet spot when they incorporated whole food starches in moderation from grains, potatoes, and other tubers. It’s all a matter of trial and error experimentation.

Here’s the key point in all of this…

You’ve got to be patient with yourself, listen to your body, and give sufficient time to assess changes in your diet.

Going for a week without grains and starches and saying “this won’t work for me,” because you’re having sugar cravings, irritability, and mood swings, isn’t being fair to yourself.

You’ve got to expect some kickback and initial discomfort when breaking a sugar addiction and ridding yourself of metabolic wastes and toxins. The same thing could be said with a week of green and fruit juices or a raw food only diet.

Instead of jumping onto one particular fad diet or nutrition philosophy, simply work on cleansing, detoxifying, and resetting the hormonal and neurotransmitter balances in your body.

Don’t be so tied to the hip with the process you’re using to accomplish the objective at the moment that you think you have to LIVE with that strategy forever.

I occasionally go on week long diets of raw foods only or green/fruit juices as a way to cleanse and rejuvenate with a punch. I do this for a reason but don’t get caught up thinking I have to live the rest of my life eating that way. Just like the next person, I’m far from perfect with my diet so I’m always looking for ways to re-balance when I get a little off.

I sure do hope some of this is resonating with you. I hate to see some many people struggle and remain frustrated bouncing from one diet or nutritional strategy to the next. Their is no holy grail of human nutrition, just treating your body right and giving it what it needs to function best.

The answers to weight loss aren’t found by taking a myopic approach with marrying yourself to any nutritional strategy. Eat foods that heal, cleanse, provide fuel, support muscle, etc. Truth be told no one food does it all. I believe that’s why God provided us with all these different sources.

Anybody who tells you fat is bad, plant protein is superior to animal protein, or that animal protein is better for fuel than carbohydrates, simply either doesn’t know what they’re talking about or they’re trying to bring you into their “camp.”

Here’s what I know to be true and why I primarily follow a Primal Blueprint diet (with some modifications and a 80/20 moderation rule mind you)…

The essentials the human body requires us to get from the foods we eat…

There really is such a thing as “essential fatty acids” and “essential amino acids,” but no such thing as an “essential” carbohydrate. Does this mean we shouldn’t eat carbohydrates? No, that would be foolish. Our bodies thrive and need the energy, nutrients, enzymes, and mineral from fruits, greens, and vegetables.

Could we have the glucose (sugar) we needed without the grains and other starch carbohydrates? Yep, your body could make it’s own glucose if you didn’t have enough coming from the fruits and greens. It could also fuel off  of fats as well.

All of this is relative however as some individuals will “fare” better with more carbohydrate in their diet from starches. Especially those with high insulin sensitivity, a faster metabolism, and/or higher energy demands.

Are you a “fat burner” or a “sugar burner?”

The thing is however, you’ve got to condition your body to use fat for fuel if you want it to use your body fat reserves for fuel at some point. Most people won’t be able to do this by simply switching out “bad carbs” for “good carbs.” If blood sugar levels and glycogen reserves are always kept with a “full tank,” there’s no reason to tap into the fat storage depot.

Forget about being under 20 grams of carbs all the time or some of these insanely low levels promoted by some fad low-carb diets.

Trust me your body will adjust to this metabolically, plus you’re only increasing your chances of crashing and burning on the diet. Instead start out by looking to be somewhere between 50-80 grams of carbs per day from fruits and vegetables.

You won’t have to spend too much time counting grams if you’re avoiding starches and other sugars. Plus there will be no need to meticulously count calories. By keeping your carbs in this range you’ll allow your body to go in and out of ketosis when needed (not trying to stay there all the time).

Once you get closer to your desired weight, bump up the levels to 100-150 grams of carbs per day to maintain your new body fat setpoint. Some will do better with higher amounts. You could even bump up these levels when doing “re-feed” days when cycling between “low-carb” phases.

Remember, everything is going to down-regulate and adjust while in restriction phases. Leptin levels will plummet, ghrelin levels increase, metabolic rate and body temperature will decrease, etc, during restriction. The key to bouncing the hormonal levels and metabolism back is to re-feed and eat MORE.

You don’t have to ditch your diet to do this. Consuming some healthy starches from things like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, wild rice, quinoa, etc, can all help you boost everything back up.

Don’t give up on everything when your body is telling you it’s been in restriction long enough and needs more energy. It’s NOT telling you that it needs a Reese’s cup or Big Mac…it simply needs more fuel.

Also make sure while you’re in a lower-carb state (notice I didn’t say “no-carb), to slightly increase your consumption of healthy fats. As weird as it may sound, consuming more fat can actually help you loose body fat, plus it will help curb hunger and provide needed energy. I won’t get into all the details now as I’ve got to wrap this up, but just remember the following:

Carbs down – Fats up

Carbs up- Fats down

I hope this has helped you to think big picture with your weight loss and nutrition strategies. Listen to your body, give it what it needs and apply regular physical activity and adequate rest and things will fall into place.

Don’t get married to any one idea or philosophy no matter how convincing the intellectual argument or reasoning is. The only gauge you need to follow is how your body performs, looks, and feels. It won’t steer you wrong when things are in balance.

Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Fitness Training Studios. If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Charleston, you can receive a no-obligations personal training trial and consultation without risking a dime. Over 1000 Charleston area residents have transformed their bodies following our unique burst training workouts and simplified nutrition programs. Experience the Shaping Concepts difference today.

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