We all share basic nutritional needs — required amino acids, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins — but we can ingest and absorb them in different ways. So most diets will work for someone, but some diets work better for most people.
I encourage every new weight loss client to try a paleo/primal lifestyle. Until they get most grains and sweeteners out of their life, no amount of portion control, calorie counting, or exercise will increase lean body mass or keep the fat off.
I have some clients who decide to keep eating empty carbs because they like them, but with the realization that they have to live with those consequences. I don’t argue this. That’s a rational decision.
But I will argue when I have someone who wants to get lean but doesn’t want to change what got them fat. They complain about their metabolism or dispute the science with me. They believe in magic through supplements or programs. They tell me about a celebrity or friend who lost weight on some diet that requires you buy something you can’t get at your local grocery. They’re willing to pay for this miracle ingredient or process, and that’s why the supplement and weight loss industry makes billions of dollars a year. The industry is not rich because these clients are successful following a plan that uses a rainforest plant, calorie counting, or the term “healthy whole grains.” The industry makes money because these clients fail over and over and keep paying over and over.
Trust Me, I Was Fat
However, as a trainer and a formerly obese person who “tried everything,” I can tell you people lie to themselves. All the time. And they lie to you. All the time.
They lie because they minimize, prefer magical thinking, or they like a particular label. I see a trend in teenage girls becoming vegetarians. It’s cool. They also think they’ll stay thin like some celebrity who claims to be vegetarian. Celebrities also do the “cool” thing, too. Whatever product or process they say dropped their 30 pounds or the work out they say stoked their muscles in 12 weeks is likely more about sales and image than fact.
And those local friends of yours?
- That woman who tried paleo and says the diet is a fad because she’s still fat is eating lots of fruit and having “just a few pieces” of candy at work.
- That vegetarian who looks lean and muscled is finishing the hamburger his kids don’t eat.
- That Weight Watchers point counter who claims she has a poor metabolism and just needs to exercise more doesn’t count those “tiny” pieces of cake and the drinks after work.
If you want to know what diet works:
- talk to those who ate one way and changed
- try a different way of eating than what got you fat — not just less of the same
- read the science and examine its methods
After years as primal and paleo, I eat carnivore most days. The carnivore diet is also called “zero carb” and “plant-free”. Those who come to this diet are often chronically ill, obese, and/or having trouble with salicyclates. There are many who have moved from ketogenic to carnivore for increased fat loss. I did it as an experiment, and I stayed because I love how much energy I have, how lean I am, and how simple it is.
Some carnivore eaters claim they can’t lose weight. They think they’re eating too much fat; hence, they say they need to cut portions. That is, they are carnivores yet they have bought into the calories-in-calories-out logic. It’s a contradiction. Those who are low-carb, ketogenic, primal, paleo, or carnivore are going against the mainstream advice, so they often have done a lot of research on their own. This is good. However, they still have ingrained the idea of eating fat = getting fat. They think they can eat too many calories even if all they are eating is meat and water. Not possible.
No, I’m serious. It’s not possible to overeat unless you eat carbs. If you are really eating only meat and water, you won’t be able to get or stay obese. You will be full. You may hold a few more pounds than you desire, but you cannot be obese.
Cutting calories rather than cutting carbs sounds logical only if you ascribe to the calories-in-calories-out theory of metabolism. Problem is, metabolism is more complicated than that. The carbohydrate-insulin theory is what describes metabolism. Obesity is all about your fat storage and hunger hormones. Calories are the energy a macronutrient creates, but macronutrients do more than create energy; they build, stimulate hormones, and interact with metabolic enzymes.
When you eat more fat and protein, your metabolism actually speeds up. It’s difficult to convert ingested fat to stored fat. You need to eat fat in the presence of carbs to store it. And when you eat whole foods that contain natural protein and fat, you get full and stop eating. Only carbs stimulate us to eat more.
You can’t be obese as a carnivore. Nope. Obesity requires carbohydrates, especially in the form of grains and sweeteners.
So if you’re still obese, but you’re eating as a carnivore, primal, or ketogenic, you are lying about what you’re eating. It’s time for you to write down EVERYTHING YOU EAT. Don’t rely on memory. Sauces, restaurant food, boxed food all have hidden carbs. Every bite, especially those consistent, if small, nibbles and sips really set things back because they stimulate insulin release which prevents your body from burning fat. Insulin makes your body build and store.
The amount of carbohydrates you eat determines how much fat you store. It’s that simple. Carbohydrates that are not used are stored as fat. Fat in the presence of carbohydrates will be stored as fat.
Weight loss and weight maintenance is simple:
- Eat whole foods like meat (and for those who choose no meat, eat beans but be aware that these have carbs you do not need and weight loss will be more difficult) that you cook yourself – because this keeps grains, added sweeteners, added oils, and added chemicals out of your food
- Eat local foods and only seasonal produce – because this limits the amount of fruits, which few of us need but we all love
- Fast at least 12 hours overnight and more if possible – because this allows your body to clean and heal itself through autophagy
See my Ketoholic Blog for the relevant research.