If you didn’t recognize that the title is dripping with sarcasm, shame on you. Needless to say, I am not a fan of people whose sole fitness goal is to get a six-pack. Take notes Situation–for any girl with even a marginal amount of self-respect, flashing your abs is not going to get you anywhere.
There is one thing that we can take away from people like this, however, aside from the fact that we live in a world of materialistic, narcissistic boneheads: once again, we see the trend that people are woefully misinformed when it comes to health and fitness. Newsflash: going to the gym and pounding out hundreds of crunches is not going to get you “hawt abz”. Having abs is almost entirely a function of body fat–if you are lean and have low body fat, you will have abs. Period.
Sticking with this theme, let’s discuss getting “shredded”, as it’s called, which is a more reasonable goal to have. Low body fat, for the most part, is conducive to good health, with the exception, of course, for those who are underweight, malnourished, etc.
Note: Most of this stuff I was turned on to by Palmer, so I must give him his due. Despite what he (and a lot of other people) might tell you, he’s actually a pretty smart guy.
Very innovative, but still not the best way to lose weight.
Quick, pop quiz: what’s the best way to lose weight?
If you said hours on the elliptical, put your dunce cap on and go sit in the corner. This is going to raise some eyebrows and get some rotten fruit thrown at me: cardio is not necessary, nor helpful for weight loss. Typical cardio has no magical fat-stripping properties. Why is this the case? Because your body is built to survive. If you burn calories, then your body is going to tell you to consume more calories. Thus, you can run on the treadmill all you want, but your body is going to beg you to compensate by taking in more food. There is one type of cardio which has been shown to be more conducive to weight loss and health, which is interval training, which I have discussed in the past. Furthermore, cardio may actually have some negative effects. Check out this article by Charles Poliquin to learn more.
By all means, be active and play sports because it is great for the body and brain. However, don’t be disillusioned into thinking two hours on the stairmaster is what you need to lose fat. As I’ll discuss, diet is the most important factor for weight loss.
What should you eat? (Hint: it rhymes with Maleo Schmiet) Yep, the Paleo Diet! As stated, the key to weight loss is creating a calorie deficit. As such, you’re going to want to eat foods that keep you full the longest and control your appetite. What foods are these? The correct answer is foods high in protein. Some fun facts about protein:
- It keeps you full more than fats or carbs. Less hunger = less eating.
- It helps maintain muscle mass. Protein is crucial for muscle building, and also preserving muscle.
- Protein has a high thermic effect of eating. In layman’s terms: if you eat 100 calories worth of protein, your body expends 30 calories to digest that. The TEF of fat and carbs are much lower.
It’s clear that protein is critical for fat loss, so how much should you eat? The general recommendation is 1g/lb. For example, I weigh about 160lbs, so I should eat 160g of protein a day. And no, your kidneys will not shut down and your bones will not disintegrate. This is some inaccurate dogma that still hasn’t gone away. Where to get your protein from? Meat, whole eggs (the yolk is good for you), fish, and various protein powders. In general, it’s best to chew your calories, but a protein shake after your training session will not hinder your weight loss. Would eating whole foods post-workout be better? Maybe, but I don’t think it’s critical.
***Cool study: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/09/paleolithic-diet-clinical-trials-part.html It found that diabetics eating a caveman diet consumed fewer calories than people who ate a standard diet recommended by doctors for people with diabetes. In 3 months they lost an average of 13 pounds of body fat and improved a bunch of other health markers.***
What should you eat? Plenty of fibrous vegetables (eat your damn broccoli), some nuts, and some fruit. Vegetables are great for controlling hunger. I don’t think there has ever been a person that got fat by overeating spinach or broccoli. Plus, they have lots of important vitamins and minerals and have a beneficial impact on gut health. I’ve discussed gut flora before with regards to probiotics, but vegetables can have similar effects. It’s also important to eat some fat with vegetables because it aids in absorption of the vitamins. Olive oil is a great way to go.
Note: peanuts are not nuts, they're legumes! Stay away.
Nuts can be good in moderation. They have some fiber and protein (not high quality though), but there is some concern about the high amounts of omega-6’s. They can serve as a decent snack, but don’t gorge on them. A few servings a day (1-3) is good.
Fruit is also good in moderation. A lot of fruit these days are genetically modified to have more sugar and thus taste sweeter. Limiting sugar intake is important for weight loss and general health. Too much fructose also causes glycation, which I’ve also discussed before. That being said, fruit is not evil. Low glycemic carbs are generally best (they spike insulin the least) except after a workout, when high glycemic carbs are best (spiking insulin post-workout helps drive any protein you take in into the muscles). For weight loss, a few pieces a day is acceptable.
What not to eat? Basically what everyone else is eating: breads, pasta, juices, milk, cereal, desserts, etc. Some people can be lean and eat lots of processed carbs and that’s due to reasons that are mostly outside of their control. High intake of processed carbs can lead to a whole host of problems: high fasting blood glucose, type II diabetes, carbohydrate addiction, lack of energy, poor sleep, lack of bacteria in the gut, inflammation, etc. Grains also contain anti-nutrients, which can lead to vitamin deficiencies. The fact that cereal companies claim their product is good for you because it has 13 essential vitamins and minerals is laughable. As I said, you want lower insulin levels and carbs raise insulin levels. This is not to say that carbs are evil. You can eat carbs and still lose weight, but it’s best to get them from good sources like sweet potatoes and fruit. You don’t need to go to the extreme of eating no carbs at all, and I especially wouldn’t recommend this if you are physically active.
I’ll write part 2 soon (I’ll refrain from defining soon, as it’s subject to my laziness and how busy my schedule is, but mostly my laziness), which will cover other topics relating to weight loss: supplementation, mindful eating, intermittent fasting, weight training, interval training, leptin, carb refeeds, and other goodies. I can feel your excitement. Now, I know you can’t wait to see part 2, but try to restrain yourselves.