Lose weight once
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1. Lose weight quickly and get it all back
2. 5 healthy habits and lose weight once
3. Fix your metabolism
4. Seriously, you need to eat
5. How much should you eat?
6. Protein Carbs Fats
7. What should you eat?
8. Avoid these foods.
9. Are you going to get shredded?
After years of experience with different diets, we feel it is of little use to exercise or eat in a way that is not sustainable long term.
The principles of the plan outlined here apply to everyone, and without these in place first, you will be wasting your time and money on more complicated and specialized plans.
*Depending on the severity or uniqueness of your health, you might need an individualized plan, but most will do well with just these principles.
You can lose weight quickly by following any kind of low calorie diet and/or beginning to exercise hard. Here are 6 of those diets and Paleo is one of them.
However, studies have shown consistently a 85%+ failure rate long-term from doing this! That means the weight comes back, and often more than what you had when you started. You may have experienced this yourself, maybe even a few times.
In a low calorie diet, you will have weight loss for a while, followed by a plateau, then fatigue and loss of motivation, then weight re-gain. The weight re-gain often happens even if you try desperately to stick with it and eat even less calories.
This happens because the root causes were never addressed, and the diet served only to worsen the underlying issues of chronic stress and a low metabolism.
Building your foundation starts with these 5 lifestyle factors and they are of great importance. They are every bit as important as what you eat.
I repeat – if these 5 points are not addressed, you will be disappointed by the lack of results from your nutrition or exercise program.
1) Sleep 8 hrs/night or more in a very dark room. Ideally be in bed by 10pm or earlier.
2) Minimize the time you spend sitting each day. Get a standing workstation and frequently stand and move around throughout your day.
3) Go for a walk outside nearly everyday – regardless of weather. Just a low intensity walk outside, you do not need to push a tough pace or hike steep hills. 15-20 minutes minimum. More short walks is even better.
4) In season, get healthy sun exposure to optimize vitamin D and hormone health. Ideally, no sunscreen and more bare skin the better, but ease into this progressively.
5) Restore your metabolism.
Fix your life style factors first, one at a time. Do not worry about dietary minutiae – it is just a waste of your time and money.
For example, trying to decide on the best brand of protein powder is totally useless if you do not sleep 8 hours per night, if you do not move your body besides going to class, and frequently are too busy to eat.
There are many factors that contribute to a slow metabolism. Lets start with the fundamentals and make sure you have those covered first.
1. Ensure that you are eating enough calories! Too few calories is the number one problem I see for a slow metabolism.
2. Build your foundation for health. See the 5 points from above.
3. Eat through out the day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus snacks as needed. Do not skip meals!
Exposure to stress hormones decreases the metabolism and research has shown that skipping breakfast and other meals leads to higher stress hormones through the day.
4. Do not restrict any one macronutrient – eat protein, carbs, and fat at every meal.
5. Reduce or eliminate highly processed foods from your diet. Ask yourself if you could have eaten this form of food 100 years ago? If not, then ditch it!
For this example, take an active female that weighs 135 lbs. She can be 135lbs eating either 1500 or 2500 calories per day!
In the 1500 calories case, your body ramps down all kinds of essential processes down to a bare minimum so it will have enough energy to keep you alive. The result is poor digestion, low heat production, poor liver detoxification, low sex hormones, poor skin quality, and little vigor or daily energy.
At 2500 cals/day, you can have enough energy to do all those things well and you actually feel good and energetic.
Just as bad as never eating enough is the very common practice of eating little to no breakfast and a very light lunch. You have spent all day making your body work hard on very little fuel, so it is primed to store fat at the first possible opportunity.
If you make up for this with a big dinner, your body keeps your metabolism slow since it is starving for about 21-22 hours of every day. Your body may even store some fat to make up for the starvation environment.
It depends a lot on many things, but the Harris-Benedict equation is a pretty good starting point.
First, find your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is how many calories you need just to perform basic body functions if you were on bed rest ALL day.
Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
I have run into many people who look at even this BMR minimum of calories and say “I could never eat that much!” This just shows how far we have fallen from what is healthy.
Since you do not spend all day in bed, we need to find your actual daily caloric needs. Multiply your BMR by the following activity factor:
BMR x 1.2 – If you are sedentary (little or no exercise)
BMR x 1.375 – If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week
BMR x 1.55 – If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week –
BMR x 1.725 – If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/week
BMR x 1.9 – If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2 x daily training
If you are very muscular, you will need even a bit more calories! If you are very obese, you will need a little bit less.
So, I will use myself as an example, 47 year old male:
BMR = 66 + (180×6.23) + (12.7×72) – (6.8×47) = 1782 cals.
I would say right now, moderately active is probably most accurate, so 1782×1.55=2762 cals per day to maintain my bodyweight – and this is critical – with good energy and all of my metabolic and hormonal processes working normally.
The only time I suggest you track and count your calories is to make sure you get up to this base number over time.
If you are way below this, increase slowly by ~500 cals/per day and do this for a week. Then another 500 (or whatever is left) for another week. Keep going until you reach your calorie target. Gradually, slowly, patiently!
After you calculate your total caloric needs, your macronutrient breakdown will be similar to these amounts.
Protein: .8-1.0g per pound of bodyweight. This is the most important one to achieve and ends up being 20-25% of calories.
Carbs: 200-400g for most, the higher end for more active or muscular individuals. This ends up about 40-50% of calories.
Fat: the remainder of your daily calories. About 20-30% of calories.
Our approach is born from years of practical experience. In our initial years of coaching, we recommended a Zone diet and then a low carb/Paleo diet. Like most CrossFit gyms, we originally bought into this concept which sounded good on paper. We have spent years teaching and testing the Paleo diet, ultimately concluding it was lacking in some key areas.
While the Paleo diet is great for bringing awareness to the value of cooking and eating “real” (non-processed) foods, it is also overly restrictive to work long-term for most people. Additionally, many in the Paleo movement have an irrational fear of carbohydrates while having a reverence for fat. Yes, the low-fat fad of the 80s and 90s was very misguided, but going 100% the opposite way is no less foolish. What many in the Paleo movement miss is that the great health of hunter-gatherers is probably more related to the lifestyle they lived rather than the foods they ate.
With that said,
1) Eat quality protein at every meal.
This does not mean you need to eat meat or follow a high protein diet, but protein at each meal will improve your metabolism and speed your recovery.
Research shows very little difference between low fat and low carb diets in relation to body composition. However, low protein diets are consistently shown to lead to lower muscle and higher fat mass. .8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight is a good starting point, spread across the day.
2) Eat plenty of carbohydrates.
They are very important to reduce stress hormones and to have a good metabolism. They help keep good levels of thyroid hormone, testosterone, and progesterone. The more often or harder you train means you will need even more carbohydrate.
There is a lot of unfounded fear of carbs in popular culture today. Carbohydrates serve many important roles in health and having good body composition. 200g/day would be the absolute minimum, with anyone exercising intensely needing more. Eat some carbs at each meal.
3) Eat quality fats.
The fat from grass-fed animals, coconut oil, butter, and some olive oil are good choices. Nuts/seeds/pork fat are ok in moderation.
Vegetable oils of all kinds, (including canola oil) are definitely things you want to avoid.
Do not avoid fat, but it is not a free-for-all like some diet authors suggest. The calories still count!
While we do not feel that suggesting a heavily restricted diet is something sustainable long-term, there are some foods that would be very wise to avoid if you want to lose weight or be healthier. Briefly:
• soy – heavily processed, may cause hormonal imbalances
• vegetable oils – what you eat is incorporated into your tissues. With a lot of this type of fat, you will have higher levels of inflammation and more oxidative damage at all times, not just after you ate.
• gluten – may cause gut irritation among other problems
• most chemical additives – basically, just eat real food and you will be safe.
5) Have a meal of whatever you want.
Those who can do this once a week will have a better chance of succeeding long-term. Eating one such meal per week will not derail you.
6) Do not obsess about food!
If you become stressed anytime you think of food, then you have a much more important issue to address first than what is in this guide.
We are defining “shredded” as male <10% body fat and female <20% body fat. This is one of our favorite infographics explaining different body fat levels and the benefits and consequences of those levels.
Only a very small percentage of genetically lucky folks might reach these body fat percentage levels following the principles outlined here.
The reason for this is because your body does not want to be that lean! Having a great deal of expensive muscle but few reserves of body fat is a poor situation for survival and puts your body in a state of chronic stress.
The super-lean are not always the super healthy. Many of the systems of the super lean body (nervous system, hormonal balance, metabolism, immune function, and more) are out of balance, just like a stressed-out, overweight office worker. In both cases, the cause is chronic stress.
Overzealous approaches to diet or exercise fail very quickly in the real world, as burnout, injury, or loss of motivation soon follow. Most programs blame the client for not sticking with it when this happens, and the client usually blames themselves as well. But what really happened is that the client finally listened to their body!
The most infamously influential program for perpetuating weight loss as the only meaningful measure of health is the Biggest Loser television show. You might have seen this revealing article from Kai Hibbard, Biggest Loser Finalist. She peals back the illusion of television and exposes what the training, lifestyle, and nutrition program has really done to her health and body.
For most people, especially those in their 30s and 40s or beyond, getting super lean will require intense discipline and commitment. All of the nutrition and training responsibilities of reaching this level will be like taking on a part-time job.
Deciding to reach this level of body fat should be weighed against the reality of extensive time and energy put into training, nutrition planning, and counting/tracking each meal. Also, you will very likely feel chronically tired, have a low libido/function, poorer digestion, and lower sleep quality.
If you want to reach this level of leanness, we can help you do it. However, you must understand and accept the commitment required and the potential consequences.