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Confront your Assumptions

The controversy over differing nutritional theories arises more from semantics and the limitation of language than it does from scientific principles.

These may sound like sharp words that admittedly could almost seem elitist, so let me try to explain…

The argument that a ‘calorie is not a calorie’, or that ‘not all calories are created equal’ is an error in language. Either that or an illustration of a gross lack of understanding.

(Adding funny pics that people can relate to doesn’t make an assumption more valid)

A calorie is a measure of energy. So a calorie by definition must be a calorie, just like an inch is by definition and inch and a pound by definition is a pound.

What is typically meant when someone says “not all calories are equal” is “not all macro-nutrients are equal” which is a valid statement.

The problem arises again in language… someone is thinking “Not all macro-nutrients are equal”(which is true) but says “Not all calories are equal” (which is not true)…and you can see where the confusion arises.

Entire online debates rage on because each side is arguing a one-sided argument… A calorie is a calorie (true) and no all macro-nutrients are the same (also true).

The language confuses people..and since both sides are technically right, the only logical conclusion is that the people arguing the other side are simply crazy, or jaded, or delusional.

This is similar to me arguing that car tires are round, and you vehemently denying that they are round, because they are made or rubber. We can argue all day, but we’re not going to get anywhere until we realize we’re both right, and we’re talking about to different properties of the tire (its shape and what it’s made of)

The other issue with nutrition is one of critical thinking… of trying to figure out what is, and is not an absolute.

We tend to mistake our assumptions for absolutes. This leads to faulty logic…or even extremely sound logic just based on incorrect assumptions.

An assumption is something we take for granted or presuppose. Usually it is something we previously learned and do not question. It is part of our system of beliefs.

We all make hundreds of assumptions every day without thinking about it. Many assumptions are sound and justifiable. Many, however, are not.

Daily assumptions are necessary to simply navigate the world. For example, you only feel safe driving through a green light assuming that the cars waiting at the red light are in fact going to wait and not just charge headlong through the intersection on a red.

In research Assumptions are the things we take for granted in the study: statements by the researcher that certain elements of the research are understood to be true.

Here are some examples.

The Atwater factors…you know, our estimated (and rounded) amount of calories per gram of Protein, Carbs and Fats (4,4,9 respectively) These are in fact estimates.

They were set more than 100 years ago, and are estimates based on the average of a large number of foods, then rounding those numbers so they’re nice and even.

But if we assume the Atwater factors as absolutes it can skew the rest of our logic.

As an example, protein at 4 Calories per gram is an extremely rough estimate…and at times the measured number can be closer to and even at extreme times, below 3 Calories per gram, Depending on the amino acid make up of said protein.

Why does this matter? Because if we assume that calories at 4 are an absolute, but then see weight loss  or weight gain that is unaccounted for in our math…we are left with no choice but to theorize at other possible reasons for the additional weight loss.

The other problem with the Atwater factors is the secondary assumption..that all of the energy that is estimated to be contained in the food makes it into our blood stream and thus incorporated into the systems of our body. In other words, not just into our mouths or gut, but actually into our bodies.

This is also an incorrect assumption as shown by the recent research on Almonds.  But if you ignore the concept of ‘metabolizable energy’ (the energy that is actually available to your body) then you must come up with other possible explanations for the discrepancy…

Another example is the suggestion that ‘obese people eat the same amount of calories as non-obese people’.

This was once proven in research, then later invalidated in follow up research. But, if you are unaware of the invalidation that occurred (or just choosing to ignore it), then what are you left with?

If you assume that a greater calorie intake is not associated with obesity under this assumption you have no choice but to theorize at other possible reasons for weight gain other than an excess calorie intake over calorie needs.

In both of these examples we let assumptions override our logic or critical thinking.

In a recent paper on the metabolic adaption to weight loss it was found that metabolic rate dropped by as much as 500 calories per day more than predicted with weight loss. Interestingly at the end of the trial the subjects metabolic rate was exactly where we would expect it to be given their lean body mass. So in this case it wasn’t a 500 calorie adaptation as much as it was a 500 calorie discrepancy. The discrepancy was between their actual measured metabolic rate and the estimated metabolic rate

In this case the assumptions were that A) the elevated metabolic rate of the subjects was normal (even though it was as high as 2,700) and that B) the predictive calculations were correct.

The problem gets even more convoluted when you realize that the original erroneous assumption gets buried in a sea of theory… some that make sense, some that do not. The issue is it becomes harder and harder to trace the issue back to the original erroneous assumption.

So what can you do?

Identify and challenge your assumptions, and be aware of the assumptions of others.

In the middle ages the implicit belief was that the Earth was at center of the universe.

The atom was originally defined as the smallest indivisible unit of matter. The assumption was that an atom could never be subdivided. This belief hampered the advancement of science until eventually J.J. Thomson discovered the existence of a sub-atomic particle, the electron, in 1887.

So things that we are absolutely positively 100% sure are right… sometimes aren’t.

There’s nothing wrong with assumptions, they’re a central part of how we function as a species. We automatically make inferences from our assumptions to gain a basis for understanding and action. We do this so quickly and automatically that we’re often unaware of their origin. We see dark clouds and think rain. We see a fit on-line guru with a 6-pack and infer that their diet or exercise program is what made them lean.

The problem arises not from assumptions but from not being aware of our assumptions. We need to realize that the inferences we make are heavily influenced by our point of view and the assumptions we have made about people and situations.

Here are some tips:

  • Start by recognizing that you and everyone else have ingrained assumptions about every situation.
  • Ask plenty of basic questions in order to discover and challenge those assumptions.
  • Constantly ask yourself “What would happen if we deliberately broke this rule?”
  • Pretend you are from a different planet and challenge assumptions from the most ignorant of vantage points –> “Why are we doing this?”
  • Reduce a situation to its simplest components in order to take it out of your environment.
  • Try to think of the exceptions. Does this assumption apply universally?
  • Restate a problem in completely different terms.

We need to take command of our thinking, not let others do it for us.

Case in point – We have lots of reproducible evidence that the bodybuilding lifestyle gets people lean and muscular looking. If followed successfully, most people can get ready and look great for a fitness/bodybuilding contest. They may not win, but they will look great.

That’s a fairly easy observation to make.

The hard part is teasing out which parts of the bodybuilding lifestyle is responsible for this effect, and which are not.

This is where our inferences are skewed by our assumptions and our point of view. So we need to be careful.

Look at all the available information and evidence. World wide.

Have there ever been people who became exceptionally lean while still eating carbohydrates? Have there been a group of people to build impressive amounts of muscle without eating copious amounts of protein? Have we seen young and old, men and women get in shape? These are the type of questions we need to ask to challenge our assumptions.

My favorite assumption right now is that male gymnasts get their amazing physiques from doing gymnastics. You see this used as evidence for body weight training right now.

(Probably not made from only doing chin ups a couple times a week)

The assumptions are that:

A) Male gymnasts are like the rest of us (no genetic advantage)

B) That they ONLY do gymnastics (no weight training)

C) That the body weight exercises available to the average man or women are similar to those that the gymnasts uses.

D) That the time allotment (gymnasts start as early as 4 or 5 years old and are specialized by 8 or 9) is not relevant, we can ‘catch up’.

E) That an hour of training 4 or 5 times a week is similar to the 3 to 4 hours 5 days a week most young gymnasts endure.

Now, I’m not suggesting that all of these assumptions are wrong, but they are things we need to constantly challenge in order to make the best use of our time in the pursuit of having a lean fit body.

The best way to simplify your approach to getting the body you want, and to avoid or identify the roadblocks (brakes) keeping you from your goal is to constantly challenge your assumptions.

It’s also what will keep you from falling victim to the relentless and never ending parade of fitness and nutrition scams that arrive in your in-box every morning.

 

What are the assumptions made in these commonly used Fitness Memes?

 

*These are different women

*they are the same age

*Poses are similar

*They are the same nationality

*Woman on right squats

*Woman on left does not

*If woman on left squatted she would be able to look like woman on right

*There are no other factors at play

*Photoshop

 

 

 

*She Squats (She could be a 17 year old cross country runner)

*She’s strong at squats

*Squatting gave her large leg muscles

*Squatting has something to do with her leanness and beauty

*If she did not squat (assuming she does) then she would not look like this.

*photoshop

 

 

 

Your full plan to get in shape for summer 2019

I’m about to arm you with everything you need to get in shape…

And yes, it involves counting calories 😉

As you know, I don’t usually count calories. But honestly, you can tell.

I’m lean, but not ultra lean.

This is because if I wanted to get ultra lean, I would need to count calories.

This is how I would count them…

Firstly, when counting calories, I do NOT count the calories from protein.

It’s not that protein doesn’t count, it’s that I don’t count protein, there’s just no need.

Now, this doesn’t mean that all protein foods are FREE! You still have to count the OTHER calories in that food.

Your tofu scramble still has carbs and fats you have to count, as does your top sirloin and even your whey protein.

***This is a bit annoying at first, as you have to learn to calculate the protein calories (grams of protein in your food multiplied by four) and subtract it from the total calories.

[[ This takes some mind space, but it’s worth it. Alternatively, you could just use an app like MyFitnessPal and call it a day. ]] 

Based on this when I say “count calories” we’re really counting calories from fat and carbohydrates; and to be truthful, I don’t care about the mix…

Eat as many or as little carbs as you want, eat as much or as little fats as you want.

In the past I’ve given recommendations that reverse taper calories, and my recommendations largely relate your height.

I realize that can be complicated for some, so I’ve simplified it down to this…

FOR MEN:

1,500 Calories per day. Minimum 100 grams of protein.

If you’re very tall (over about 6’2) you can try 1,750 cals
If you’re shorter than average (under 5’6”) you can try 1,250 cals

FOR WOMEN:

1,250 Calories per day. Minimum 90 grams of protein per day

If you’re very tall (over about 5’9”) you can try 1,500 cals
If you’re shorter than average (under 5’3”) you can try 1,000  cals

[Remember that straight protein calories do not count for this total; so, 100g of protein is roughly 400 additional calories! ] 

Now, here is the trick to making this all work: you must eat AS CLOSE to this number as possible.

As an example, for men 1,500 isn’t the max, it’s the goal.

That 1,500 can be eaten in any pattern you wish, just remember, you don’t count the protein calories, but you DO count the carbs and fats that are still present in your typical protein foods.

With this plan you still fast once or twice per week, however now nothing changes on your fast days. You still aim to get as close to your calorie goal and protein goal as possible… Remembering of course the you still eat every day, since your fasts are always divided between two days (ie 2 pm to 2 pm the next day).

[[ Again, this post is simply about what works, and we’re not going to dive into why… ]]

Next discussion is your protein; these are minimums you must hit every day.

The minimums are pretty much inline with the amount I recommend in How Much Protein for muscle growth. However, because you are eating in a deficit and trying to lose weight, feel free to eat more protein, really as much as you want. It’ll help with hunger… And yes, it makes a difference.

[[ Again, no point in going deep into the arguments for or against, just remember to eat protein, hit your minimums, and don’t be afraid to go over… Double the number if you want. ]]

Next are your workouts.

Workout 3 to 4 times per week, following Progressions.

Because of the progressive nature of Progressions (I know, bad sentence), they allow us to properly track your energy levels.

Even under a slight energy deficit, you should be able to make progress and increase your strength with these workouts.

If you get stuck at a progression for an exercise for more than two weeks and are not injured, then increase your calories by 200 calories per day and try again.

[[ The easiest way to do this is to add 200 liquid calories to your day. I like using coconut water, but you can use anything, just make sure it’s only 200 and not giving yourself permission to eat A LOT more. ]]

In other words we use your strength to assess and regulate your calories needs and whether you have gone too low with your calories.

Here you may be thinking, “But Brad, I thought it was impossible to go too low on calories? After all, don’t you recommend fasting?”

And my answer is there is a big difference between being very low in energy for 24 hours, and being very low for months on end… One is doable, one will cause you to fail.

So this is the total plan. You track NON-PROTEIN calories, and TOTAL protein intake.

You try to get as close to the goal as possible for calories. You try to always exceed your minimum on protein.

You workout. If your Progressions workouts stall, you slightly increase calories.

You keep doing this until you get the body you want, or until you get sick of counting calories and want a break.

On this approach you will lose weight SLOWLY but consistently. It will be steady improvements.

It will not be LIGHTENING FAST weight loss… But it will be really effective long term weight loss.

[[ Usually between 1.5 and 0.5 pounds per week, with the larger drops happening after your fast. ]]

That’s it, that’s the entire plan.

Finally, remember you do not have to count calories – you can still lose weight without this effort, but if you are having problems losing weight, or are planning on getting very lean for the summer, then this is the plan I would recommend.

If you paid me thousands of dollars for coaching this is what you would get. I would give you this exact plan, then remind you EVERY WEEK that your calorie goal is a goal, something you should strive to hit every day. Your protein is a minimum that you should go over every day, and that that precise time you eat your calories is up to you.

What I Eat

I’ve been asked to do a “day in the life of Brad” and track all of my eating, so I recorded 2 days of regular eating, then the two days surrounding a fast for you.

I’ll warn you right now that my diet is not overly exciting. In fact, I generally follow my own advice…

I fast twice per week, and eat around 100 grams of protein per day like in How Much Protein. I’m not trying to diet so my rough maintenance calorie intake is my height in centimeters multiplied by 15. I eat a lot of fruit, specifically berries (Good Belly, Bad Belly) and my workouts are Progressions three times per week (Progressions)…

Alright, let’s begin with Friday:

 

– FRIDAY –

7:15 AM –  Glass of water

7:30 AM – A half cup of raspberries and a half cup black berries with two tablespoons coconut milk (about two tablespoons) (2 g protein, 70 Calories)

8 AM – Three scoops protein powder, 1 cup water, 1 cup mango juice ( I normally have this later, but I had to go to a meeting and I knew there would be coffee at the meeting.) (30 g protein, 400 Calories)

9:15 AM – One espresso

9:45 AM – Another espresso

11:00 AM – 200 g watermelon (1 g protein, 60 Calories)

Noon: Progressions workout

1:00 PM – Three scoops protein powder, 100 g of strawberries, 5 g creatine, a cup of mango juice, 1 cup water (30 g protein, 500 Calories)

3:00 PM – Half cup snap peas, BBQ jackfruit in mini pitas (17 g protein, 400 Calories)

5:00 PM – Two chocolate dipped Oreos (2 g protein, 150 calories)

7:30 PM – Loaded sweet potato – 300 grams sweet potato, half cup black beans, two tablespoons avocado, two tablespoons Veganaise, Bajan hot sauce, garlic, green onions. 1 pint Guinness  (25 grams protein, 800 Calories)

10:00 PM – 1 cup soy milk, half cup pistachios (20 g protein, 370 Calories)

Total for Friday: roughly 125 grams of protein, 2,700 Calories

 

– SATURDAY –

8:00 AM – Glass of water

8:30 AM – Espresso

9:15 AM – Second espresso

9:45 AM – A half cup of blueberries, half cup strawberries, 2 tablespoons coconut milk (2 g protein, 80 Calories)

10:00 AM – Three scoops protein, 1 cup water, 1 cup of OJ (30 g protein, 400 Calories)

12:00 PM – Two peaches (3 protein, 100 Calories)

2:00 PM – 1 Cup hot apple cider (150 Calories)

3:15 PM – Glass of red wine (125 Calories)

4:00 PM – Handful of chocolate chips (150 Calories)

6:00 PM- Boon Burger Buddha Burger and fries… and a brownie (35 g protein, 1,000 Calories)

8:00 PM – Two scoops protein, 200 g blueberries, 100 g of strawberries, 1 cup orange juice (30 g protein 400 Calories)

9:00 PM – A beer (150 Calories)

9:30 PM – And another beer (150 Calories)

Total for Saturday: Roughly 100 g protein and 2,700 calories

 

– SUNDAY –

7:30 AM – A glass of water

8:00 AM – Espresso

8:45 AM – Another espresso

9:00 AM – 1/2 cup strawberries, 1/2 cup blackberries, 1 peach, 3 tablespoons coconut milk (100 Calories)

10:00 AM – 3 scoops protein powder, half cup blueberries, half cup strawberries, water (30 g protein, 300 Calories)

10:30 AM –  1 cup of pineapple chunks (100 Calories)

11:00 AM – 2 cups soy milk, 2 pita pockets with peanut butter,  (25 g protein, 300 Calories)

Started Fasting

Total for Sunday – Roughly 60 g Protein, 800 Calories

 

– MONDAY –

7:15 AM – Glass of Water

8:45 AM – Espresso

9:15 AM – Espresso

11:15 AM – 1/2 cup raspberries, cup of blackberries, 1/2 cup mango, 2 tablespoons Coconut Milk (100 Calories)

12:00 PM – Progressions workout

1:00 PM – 3 scoops protein powder, 5 grams creatine, 1 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup strawberries, handful raspberries, water (30 g Protein, 300 Calories)

3:00 PM – 1 cup hot apple cider (150 Calories)

5:00 PM – Buddha Bowl – Quinoa, almonds, black beans, sweet potato, avocado, green onions, red peppers, cucumbers (40 g protein, 700 Calories)

7:00 PM – Two Oreos (120 Calories)

8:00 PM – 2 pieces toast, peanut butter, blackberry jam (12 g protein, 350 Calories)

10:00 PM  – 3 scoops protein powder, 1 cup blueberries, 1/2 strawberries, handful raspberries, water (30 g protein, 300 Calories)

Total for Sunday – Roughly 115 grams protein 2,000 Calories

 

NOTES:

*Tuesday would look a lot like Friday…

*My non-fasting days are roughly 2,700 Calories, my fasting days would combine to be roughly 2,700, usually a little bit more.

*If I were trying to lose weight, I’d reduce my calorie intake to somewhere between 12-14 x my height in centimeters, mostly by cutting the juice out of my shakes.

Can Diet Shakes and Meal Replacements Really Help You Lose Weight?

Nutritionists call diet shakes “meal replacements” because one shake is supposed to be the equivalent of one meal. Meal replacements also come in the form of nutritional bars and pre-packaged entrees. But do they really help you lose weight?

Steven Heymsfield, MD, of Columbia University, conducted a study which seems to prove that they do. Heymsfield and his colleagues looked at the findings of six studies of different types of meal replacements. They discovered that overall weight loss for the 249 individuals on meal replacement diets was greater than the weight loss experienced by the 238 individuals who followed low-calorie diets.

A study of United States Army volunteers showed that soldiers following a meal replacement program experienced greater weight loss over a six month period when the use of the meal replacements was combined with education-based weight management. Only 59% of the volunteers in the study, however, continued with the diet for the entire period.

Another study of 90 obese men and women also found that meal replacements resulted in more weight loss than those on a food-based diet. The participants were randomized to either a meal replacement program consisting of 3-5 meal replacements plus one meal daily or to a 1,000 kcal/daily food diet. After 16 weeks, the study showed that the group of individuals on meal replacements experienced a much greater rate of weight loss (93%) than those who were on the food-based diet (55%). Again, many people participating in the study dropped the diet. Only the people who continued were counted.

Losing Weight

Weight loss seems as if it should be very easy. In order to lose a pound a week, simply eat 500 fewer calories every day. But in the real world, busy schedules and a wide array of food choices makes losing weight very hard.

Meal replacements work on the premise that many of us don’t know how many calories we actually consume in a day. While packaged foods usually list calorie content, most of our meals do not. In many cases, we can eat a 700-800 calorie meal without realizing it. If we eat three 750-calorie meals in a day, we’ve consumed 2,250 calories.

An average woman only needs 1,800-2,200 calories per day, and an average man only needs about 2,000-2,500 calories per day. Add in snacks, sweets, alcohol, and soda, and most of us consume many more calories than we actually need.

If you replace one or two meals per day with something with a known amount of calories, you will likely reduce the number of calories you consume. Instead of eating a 750-calorie meal, you’ll drink a 250-calorie shake – reducing your calorie intake by 500. Do that every day for a week, and you should be able to lose one pound.

David Allison, PhD, obesity researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has studied meal replacements as a means of losing weight.

“I think they are a reasonable approach and can play a valuable role in weight loss,” he said.

Allison evaluated 100 people who were randomly chosen to use either a soy-based meal replacement or a low-calorie diet for three months. He learned that those who were on meal replacements lost more weight and lost more inches around their waists than those who were following a low-calorie diet.

Another study, conducted by Dana Rothacker, PhD, assessed the long-term effectiveness of diet shakes on women who used them for one year. After three months, women who drank diet shakes had lost about the same amount of weight as women who followed low-calorie diets. But after a year, the women on the meal replacement plans were more likely to maintain their weight loss, while those who were on the low-calorie diets had regained much of their weight.

No Magic Bullet

Meal replacements aren’t magic. People who stop using meal replacements regain their weight when they return to a higher-calorie diet. And some critics say meal replacements don’t teach people how to make healthy food choices.

“People [on meal replacements] haven’t learned how to deal with real food,” Allison said. When they stop using the meal replacements, they often return to an unhealthy diet. In order to maintain a normal weight, one must either learn lifelong healthy eating habits or stay on the meal replacement plan indefinitely – and not many people want to do that.

Buyer Beware

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate meal replacements since they are only dietary supplements, so advertisements for them may make claims which aren’t supported by scientific research. There are also no standards for the ingredients of meal replacements. While some diet shakes may be nutritionally sound and even include vitamins and minerals, others may contain very few healthy nutrients and are no more healthy than replacing your meal with a can of soda.

Allison recommends that anyone considering using meal replacements get nutritional advice from a health care provider.

Reliance on a manufactured product may deprive you of the variety that is normal in day-to-day meal planning. Meal replacement products could also provide you with a high intake of foods that you might otherwise rarely eat. For example, scientists are still studying whether heavy consumption of soy may influence the development of some cancers, so you may want to beware of soy-based meal replacements.

Diet shakes or meal replacements will help jumpstart weight loss in many people. Reaching a short-term weight-loss goal can be very satisfying and can provide the encouragement necessary to make permanent changes in the way you eat. Meal replacements can promote weight loss especially if they are used along with the goal of learning lifelong healthy eating choices.

If your goal is long-term weight loss, then you need to find a diet that will help you simply eat less food to shed pounds and then easily maintain your new body weight. Usually, this is a diet plan that allows you to eat your favorite meals and naturally fit to your lifestyle.

RESOURCES:

American Dietetic Association
http://www.eatright.org

National Institutes of Health
http://www.nih.gov

Canadian Council on Food and Nutrition
http://www.ccfn.ca

Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology
http://www.csep.ca

More Sleep = More Weight Loss

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about sleep.

I’m sure by now you’ve had someone tell you that not getting enough sleep could be slowing down your weight loss efforts.

I’ve heard this a couple times myself, in the news, on the radio, and most recently, while eaves dropping on a conversation while sitting on a patio at Starbucks (I know its rude, but I can’t help it. The minute someone starts talking about nutrition or weight loss, my ears go into super human radar mode…)

The idea that sleep can affect fat loss sounds pretty far fetched, but there is research to support this theory.
A 2005 survey by the National Sleep Foundation reports that, on average, Americans sleep 6.9 hours per night. This data is almost a decade old, so I’m willing to bet this number is even lower for many of us. Possibly approaching the 5 or 6-hour per night mark.

This is a far cry from the 8-10 hours that is typically recommended.

Of course, with this little tidbit of information researchers have gone into overdrive examining intricate relationships between sleep and hormones like Leptin and Grehlin, hoping to find some complicated metabolic process to explain the connection between sleep and weight.

While I am sure they will find a link, I have a much simpler explanation.

While we are awake we spend almost every hour in the fed state. Most of us are constantly eating little meals from the minute we wake up until we finally go to sleep. Because of this, the simple math suggests that the longer we are awake, the more time we spend eating.

Staying up a little later means eating your last meal a little later, and getting up a little earlier means eating breakfast just a little bit earlier.

If you are having a snack and then going to bed at midnight, only to get up at 5:30 to grab a bite before starting to get ready for work, you may be spending a full 22 hours in the fed state and only 2 hours in the fasted state, depending on the size of your last meal.

Sleep experts recommend the following: Go to bed when you are tired, and allow your body to wake you in the morning (no alarm clock allowed).

Now, I’m not going to suggest this approach for two reasons. Firstly, it would make me a giant hypocrite (I’m writing you this email at 11:30 at night) and secondly, I’m pretty sure that following these recommendations would get some people fired from their job pretty quickly.

So here’s my take:

It is a common nutrition ritual to avoid eating after a certain time at night. Many people don’t eat after 7 or 8 pm at night as a way to cut back on their calorie intake. Whenever I find myself in the kitchen late at night (anytime later than 10 pm), I don’t ask myself ‘should I be eating?’ I ask myself ‘Should I be awake?’.

In other words, more often than not, ‘going to bed’ is the best cure for late night snacking .

You can also add the ritual of not eating BEFORE a certain time in the morning.

So instead of eating as soon as you wake up, why not push it back, even just a little. Start your day with a big glass of water, and take some time to figure out IF you are hungry, and what you are hungry for.

Combine the practice of not eating after a certain hour at night, with not eating before a certain hour in the morning and you can slowly start restoring your body’s balance between periods of being fed and being fasted.

In my opinion this one little ritual may help prevent the weight gain that is associated with lack of sleep.

What to do if you’re not losing weight

I am a firm believer in the role of food in weight loss.

Eat More food then you need = weight gain, Eat less = weight loss.

However, I’m also not blind. I know that different people see different rates of weight loss.

I know that in a research study when a group of people lose 10, plus or minus 3 pounds it means that not everyone lost 10 pounds, some lost more, some lost less.

I am completely aware of the variability of weight loss.

So what do you do if you’re not losing weight as fast as you think you should be?

First, check your diet – often times it’s the little things that have snuck into our routine… unnoticed little extras, miscalculations, and routine lapses in judgement. Or, hunger based rationalizations like:

“Well that was a really tough workout, perhaps I DO need this post-workout snickers bar to replenish my energy levels” – I do this one often 😉

So check to make sure a ‘slow creep back to average’ hasn’t happened with your diet.

Second, check your workouts. Make sure the effort is still there. If you’ve lost interest or motivation then switch it up and try something new. While I do not think your workouts DRIVE your weight loss, they do contribute. Keep the effort and motivation high.

Third – check your sleep. It’s important. Get sleep, do you best to keep it from being broken or restless.  Treat sleep like an important part of your life, not just the period of time where you ‘crashed’. Embrace a night time routine, respect your sleep time.

Lastly check your gut. After I completed my research for a book I was helping to write about gut bacteria (Flat Belly Forever) I began adding Kefir into my daily routine. I believe it has helped. Your gut bacteria play an important role in your ability to lose wight. Again, not a DRIVING force but it does contribute, to some people this can make a BIG difference.

If you’re not losing the way you think you should, consider adding more fermented foods into your diet (you can learn some more tricks here –> Flat Belly Forever).

Four little steps to getting your weight loss back to where you think it should be.

How to make bodyweight exercises work

I just made the decision to install some Stahl bars in my home gym.

They’re hard to describe (googling them is best) but if I had to describe them, I’d say they look like a giant floor to ceiling magazine rack.

The reason for this addition is because I’m relying on body weight exercises more and more in my workouts, and Stahl bars are a cool way to add in some extra variety.

Truth be told, the older I get, the more I love body weight training.

The best part about body weight exercises is that you don’t really need any equipment (the stahl bars are really just a treat for me), and you can do them anywhere.

Now, I’m not talking about just jumping jacks, pushups and squats – these are a great starting point, but I think that body weight exercises eventually have to become body MOVEMENT exercises… They should become more complex as you get stronger.

In fact, the big issue I have with Body Weight Exercises is if the movements don’t progress, then you end up doing a super high amount of reps in order to properly challenge yourself, and if you’re not careful this can lead to overuse injuries.

This is very similar to what happens with runners, only now it’s your shoulders, elbows or wrists. This is why you need a TON of variety in your exercise repertoire – You can’t just do push-ups, squats and chins.

But if you have enough of the RIGHT exercises – then your body is actually the BEST piece of home gym “workout equipment” in the world for helping you GAIN muscle and BURN fat without spending tons of money.

…and for a little extra money there is basically nothing you can’t do with your own body weight (my Stall bars are going to cost 1/10th of what I paid for my squat rack, and you can pick up a chin-up bar for dollars).

Here’s a quick example – the next time you do pushups, squeeze your butt and flex your thighs for the entire time you are doing your push ups. You can also try spreading your shoulder blades at the top of your pushup to make them even more complex, and you can play with your hand positioning.

People like to neglect bodyweight training, but when done properly you can get an impressive workout completed in around 20 minutes.

When it comes to making body weight exercises ‘work’ it’s all about execution – it’s how you do them that matters (actually, this is probably true for ALL exercises)

If you are interested in body weight training and / or body weight exercises you can check out BODYWEIGHT BURN (YES, it is a video infomercial… and an amusing one at that, however the product is excellent).

PROMOTIONAL LINK → BODY WEIGHT BURN

The WORST 8-week diet ever…

If I were to ask the average person to “Give me 3 reasons why people struggle to lose weight?” They would probably answer:

1. Food company marketing
2. Simple Sugars
3. Lack of Exercise

And this would be a good answer… but I have a different big three. The big 3 reasons why I think so many people struggle with weight loss year after year…

1. Halloween
2. Thanksgiving
3. Christmas

The reason this Big three is so devastating is that they all happen within an 8 week period.

An average person can get into AMAZING, picture-ready shape in 8 weeks following a good diet and workout program. So what do you think can happen in an 8 week period that starts with 5-6 days of eating way too much chocolate, followed by 5-7 days of turkey and leftover turkey and then capped off with 5-6 days of turkey AND chocolate and 1 special bonus night of way too much champagne (New Years Eve)?

That’s right – a great body can turn average, and an OK body can get really bad, really quickly.

No WONDER most people’s New Years Resolutions are about weight loss… they’ve just finished an 8 week food and drink bender!

Make no mistake, for most people the next 8 weeks are the hardest of the entire year. However, if you WIN these next 8 weeks, then you are setting yourself up for massive success in 2014.

So start now.  Promise yourself that by Sunday at midnight there will be NO Halloween candy in your house.

Next week, re-read Eat Stop Eat… get a ‘feel’ for fasting again as you head into this high-stress 8 week period…

Stick to your workouts,  because this is the time of year when people start to say “I just can’t find the time”. This cannot be you, you must find the time.

Enjoy your food, but be mindful of when it’s time to stop.

Look, there are no magic tricks. I wish I could tell you if you do a couple pushups before each meal then you’ll be fine and won’t gain any weight, but it doesn’t work that way.

Stay strong, these next 8 weeks are the hardest weeks out of the entire year for most people. If you win these weeks, you win the year.

The art of ‘Detach and Relax’

In past years I’ve had some trouble putting my exact thoughts on health and nutrition into words.

There was always something I just didn’t like about where health and nutrition was going, and I wanted to rally against it… Revolt if you will.

Eat Stop Eat was the result of this feeling. In a sense it represented my own personal health and fitness revolution.

But it was more than just fasting, it was the mind set.

I had grown tired of people promoting suffering as dedication, exhaustion as a virtue, and obsession as health.

It’s not that I don’t want people to workout, or make conscious decisions about what they eat, it’s actually the opposite.

I want you to work hard in the gym. Very hard. And I want you to be aware of your food choices. I do NOT want you to eat passively.

I also want you to learn to be patient and take breaks from eating. You don’t have to eat all the time, but you certainly don’t need to fast all the time either.

I needed a way to convey ‘dedicated but balanced’, instead of ‘obsessed and inflexible’.

Today, I think I figured it out.

It’s the art of ‘Detach and relax’

I want you to workout and workout hard, but when you are done your workout I want you to Detach and Relax. Don’t take it home with you, don’t obsess about it.

I want you to be aware of what and when you are eating, but once you are done making a food decision, I want you to Detach and Relax. Don’t obsess about your food choices, don’t let food control you.

Detach and Relax.

You simply can not be all health and fitness all the time.

Eat less, move more, don’t be afraid to break a sweat every once in a while, and remember to be balanced.

As much as some people may hate to hear it, there’s more to life than 0% body fat, blood and puke in the gym, and macronutrients on your plate.

How to lose even more weight this week

It’s ironic that looking for weight loss information on-line involves sitting in front of a computer, and sitting in front of computer involves expending very little energy and (more often than not) it also involves some amount of passive eating.

Going outside and going for a hike does not involve finding any new, fun, weight loss information to read, it also does typically does not involve eating, and involves the actual act of burning extra calories.

Even more interesting is that going to the gym involves burning calories, building muscle and not eating… UNLESS you’ve gone on-line and found some weight loss information suggesting you should eat something during your workouts

Funny how these things work.

One of the easiest things you can do to improve your weight loss is to find activities that you can do that do not involve eating.

Eat less, move more and don’t be afraid to break a sweat occasionally.

Sounds simple, but it works.