How to Lose Weight and Maintain – A Success Story
In the same way that the best exercise is the kind you do, the best diet is one you stick with. That said, there are only 3 ways to lose weight:
You can limit the amount you eat.
- Pro: the world and its products are set up to help you track calories.
- Con: a calorie is not just a calorie so this choice sounds logical but doesn’t account for hormonal effects of different macronutrients
You can limit what you eat.
- Pro: removing processed foods has all the good research behind it
- Con: politics drowns out the science by virtue signalling for the vegan and creating social stigma for high-fat and meat diets
You can increase activity to utilize what you do eat.
- Pro: exercise can reduce visceral fat so it’s good for your heart
- Con: the jiggly stuff won’t be touched
Each of these has worked for someone you have heard of. Only one worked for me. And only one is showing a consistent track record for long-term success. You must limit what you eat. WHAT not HOW MUCH. Quit the processed food. Simple. Except…do you really know what processed food is?
Flour is a processed food. Sugar is a processed food. Any food that has parts removed or added is processed.
Food has a thermogenic effect (calorie) and a hormonal effect (stimulating insulin or reducing ghrelin, for example). Eating 100 calories of a donut is not interchangeable with eating 100 calories of steak. The hormonal effects of the donut will give you a high, then cause you to be hungry fairly soon afterward. Additionally, the simple carbohydrates (sweetener and flour) will weaken your immune system and your body will be starved for any nutrients with which it can build. The hormonal effects of the steak will satiate you longer. Additionally, the nutrients in the steak (amino acids, saturated and mono-unsaturated fats, and vitamins) will build your body, providing substrate for cells, hormones, muscles, brain tissue, etc., and enhance your immune system.
All this preamble is to point out that the bulk of your diet — the bulk of nearly every American’s diet — is processed grains (flour) with added sweetener (sugar, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup). Few of us are making meals from whole foods. We’re microwaving meals, opening boxes and cans, and all of these things have as a base or as a filler sweeteners and flours. (To limit this post length I won’t discuss the other serious problems from processed foods like inflammation from PUFA oils — soybean, corn, vegetable, canola).
How I Lost Weight and Keep It Off
Here’s the thing.
I’ve tried many diets in my life and made many attempts to lose weight at different times. Over my 53 years, I have:
- increased cardio exercise
- drunk lots of water
- brushed my teeth before meals
- used small plates
- eaten at certain times
- chewed slowly
- chewed gum
- eaten many small meals
- consumed a few big meals
- added fiber to feel fuller
- cut back on fat
- counted calories
- relied on natural sweeteners
- relied on fake sweeteners
- cooked with nut flours
- used tedious food trackers
- paid for meal planning…
The only thing that worked and continues to work for me is meat.
The more meat I eat, the better I feel and the easier it is to stay lean. I gained weight as a vegan (6 months) and vegetarian (3 years) and when I tried simply counting calories (2 years). Over the past decade I lost 90 pounds as I progressed from primal (paleo + dairy) to paleo (meat, veggies, some nuts and fruits) to keto (primal but added fats) to carnivore (only meat). I have celebration times when I indulge in sweets with my kids or have a beer with friends, but few days have been anything but meat in the last year.
Keeping the weight off is effortless.
Additionally, I have varied my exercise based on my interest not my waist size. I’m currently back into Crossfit and loving it. You might think a lack of carbohydrates would make it tough, but high intensity works fine for those of us who are fat-adapted. Research is forcing the metabolic textbooks to be rewritten, even for extreme athletes working at lactate threshold.
I’m not a carnivore activist. I support friends, family, and clients in their choices that vary greatly from mine. We humans can live on many different diets and there are ranges for health and fitness that satisfy us differently. Still, I have the science from nutrition, ecology, and anthropology to share when activists come to argue, but there is SO MUCH good information available now that I no longer feel compelled to add to it.