Your Cyclical Fat Loss Plan: Carbs, Calories and Fats!

Crawl Before You Walk

Before we get into calorie cycling I wanted to address some initial fat loss tips if you are getting started. Your initial fat loss plan should be simple.

Just because something is simple doesn't mean it is going to be easy though. Stay on course and be consistent with your fat loss efforts. The imperfect nutrition plan you follow is better than the perfect one you don't follow. Keep that in mind! 

Focus on high quality whole foods that come from nature and avoid man made processed foods. Make sure you are eating enough protein  (0.8-1g/lb) and train hard in the gym.

Also make sure you are getting at least 8-9 hours of solid sleep per night. Create a nutrition, gym and lifestyle game plan you can realistically stick to and use until it no longer works.

Squeeze every last ounce of fat loss you can out of this simple approach before you consider moving on to something new.

If you are above 20% body fat, stop reading this blog post and start doing the above steps. Don’t over complicate things and get paralyzed by trying to overhaul everything at once. Make a plan, be consistent and start seeing progress.

Nature Is smarter than us

When it comes to cycling whether it be nutrients or calories, we have instinctively done this since the beginning of time.

Calorie and nutrient cycling are not a new method, and has been done by our ancestors for many years without thinking about or giving it a name. Cyclical eating is what it is called these days.

From an evolutionary perspective when we ate before grocery stores, we had to eat what was provided by nature.

When eating with the seasons we would have times of greater caloric intake, and times where we would consume less calories because food was scarce.

When eating cyclically different foods and nutrients would be available, or not available depending on the time of year.

This dictated how we ate back then, and it just so happens nature is pretty good at giving us what we need.  

With grocery stores on every corner and imported foods stocked on the shelves we have moved away from local and seasonal eating. We are now able to eat our favorite foods year round, regardless of the season.

Calorie Cycling Vs.  Linear Dieting

For those who are are looking to achieve fat loss you can achieve it multiple different ways that all work. A common method used  to achieve fat loss is a daily calorie deficit.

A person will find how many calories they need to maintain their weight and then eat below that every day.

If someone needs 1800 calories to maintain body weight, but eats 1500 calories seven days a week this is a 300 calorie daily deficit.

Another method is to have more calories or carbs on days when you're more active and work out, and less on days where you are not training or working out. This second method is calorie/ carb  cycling.

Calorie and carb  cycling are methods of raising and lowering calories and carbs on certain days to make sure you keep losing fat, but don’t let the metabolism slow from under eating for too long.

Problems With Linear Dieting

The closer someone gets to their ideal body composition the more detailed their plan will need to be to hit those specific goals.

With less body fat  you have less room to make mistakes, and can compromise the lean muscle you have worked hard for while slowing down your metabolism.

Simply cutting calories until you reach your goal works for a short period of time, but can make you pretty miserable along the way.

Assuming you were able to starve yourself into an ideal body composition it rarely works long term, and generally causes extreme weight rebounds.

Our bodies are efficient machines, and very adaptable. When the body adapts to a calorie deficit it intelligently respond by burning fewer calories.

Because fewer calories are being consumed, the body slows the metabolic rate down to ensure fewer calories are burned. This keep you at an even energy balance and ensures that fat loss doesn't happen for a number of reasons. 

During long periods of caloric restriction a master hormone named leptin is reduced. The reduction in leptin causes a slowed metabolic rate, increased hunger and reduced energy expenditure, a recipe for fat loss disaster and frustration.

Because leptin is such a big player in the hormonal game the reduction causes a lot of downstream impacts with other related hormones.

Leptin affects testosterone, thyroid and growth hormone which all regulate fat loss, muscle growth and many other mental and physical functions.

Advantages of Calorie Cycling

Calorie cycling promotes metabolic flexibility by causing the body to adapt a different amount of calories and carbs.

It keeps the body guessing when there is a caloric deficit one day, and then a caloric surplus the next. The different days of different calorie intake provides a different stimulus for the body to adapt to.

With days that differ in caloric intake it allows people to break the routine of dieting and avoid eating the exact same foods day in and day out.

You are able to switch up food choices and keep variety in the diet instead of eating the same foods daily it also allows a mental break from the grind of linear dieting. 

As mentioned above both calorie and nutrient cycling are a natural way of eating for us as humans. Before grocery stores we naturally cycled both calories and nutrients depending on the season and what foods were available.

From a social standpoint calorie cycling allows more flexibility. You are able to go out and enjoy food and great company while not stressing about caloric intake or eating too many carbs.

Getting lean isn’t worth it if you can’t enjoy time with loved ones, and kick your heels up from time to time.

Hormonal  and Metabolic Health

Maybe the largest benefit people get from calorie cycling is the positive impact it has on hormones. Specifically the hormones leptin, thyroid hormones , Growth hormone and testosterone.

By spiking calories on higher days you up regulate these hormones making sure to avoid the hormonal pitfalls that many people experience when they put themselves into a large calorie deficit for too long.

You also keep your metabolism from slowing down dramatically, which allows you to make greater long term fat loss happen and greater overall hormonal and social health. 

 Manipulating The Macros

On higher calorie days the extra calories should be coming predominantly form carbohydrates as they have the greatest effect on thyroid, leptin and metabolic function. 

Protein and fats can be kept constant to make life easier, and if there is a small rise in fast it is not a huge cause for concern but carbohydrates need to take priority for this to be effective. 

Keeping  protein at a constant level is very useful for protecting lean muscle mass and  remaining satiated on lower calorie days.

Protein is a very high satiety food that leaves us feeling fuller for longer. It also breaks down into  the amino acids that make our neurotransmitters responsible for our moods and ability to focus.

The two macronutrients that will be manipulated on high and low calorie days are carbohydrates and fats.

On higher days when you are more active the majority of the extra calories should come from carbohydrates to build muscle,promote recovery and keep hormones healthy.

On less active days fats will be the main energy nutrient allowing you to keep insulin low and tap into dietary and  body fat as fuel, while staying in a caloric deficit.

The constant protein and high fat intake on these days will keep people fuller for a longer period of time allowing for lower calories.

During lower days it is better to avoid the starchy carbohydrates, and go higher on fats and non starchy veggies while keeping protein constant. 

How Many High and Low Days ?

The specifics of how many high and low days you have per week will come down to a few different factors. One of the biggest ones will be how much body fat you realistically have to lose.

For someone who is obese they should have more lower calorie days, as their body will be able to hand that deficit with slowing down the metabolic rate. 

However someone who is already lean will likely need more high days to prevent metabolic slowdown as they have less fat to lose, and can likely handle carbohydrates very well. 

Another consideration is your training style and how many days per week you train. Ideally your higher calorie and carbohydrate days would be on the same day that you hit the gym, and lower calorie days would be on rest or less active days. 

There are definitely outlined strategies that work for people, but don’t forget the most important principle of nutrition is to experiment and see what works best for you.

If you are not losing any fat after three to four weeks, it could be that you need to exchange a high carb day for a lower carb day until fat loss resumes.

If your training is going poorly and you are having a hard  time recovering you might require another higher carb or medium carb day. You’ll have to tinker a little to see what  fits you best.

5 low days - 2 high days

If you have a lot of weight to lose and could be considered obese or very overweight, this is going to be the method for quicker fat loss.

By spending most of the week in a lower carb and calorie state it will allow for rapid fat loss, but the higher days will keep leptin high and your metabolism humming. 

Because carbohydrates have a greater impact on leptin,  the majority of your extra calories on the high days should come from carbs.

3 low days - 1 high day

This a very typical way to cycle for fat loss. You will do three days of low carb and then have a one day spike in calories coming mostly from carbohydrates to help with recovery and hormonal function.

This is a good  strategy for someone who is in the 15-20% body fat range. For those who train really hard and do a decent amount of metabolic conditioning this may be difficult on lower carbs and the option below would be better to use.

1 low day - 2 high days

This is a good option for those who are below 15% body fat and are looking to preserve or build lean muscle as their priority, while dropping some fat is secondary.

Because there are more  high calorie and high carb days compared to low days, fat loss may be slower. However as someone gets closer to their ideal level leanness it will be a slower process.  

Because this person has less  body fat they will be more insulin sensitive and able to handle more carbs without  gaining much fat.

If you are performance driven and mainly concerned with gaining muscle, and willing to lose fat at a slower rate this is a good option.

If you are training four days a week  lifting heavy combined with some metabolic conditioning or sprints this will be your ticket.

You will get in enough carbs and calories to promote muscle growth and recovery on training days, and be in a deficit on recovery days.

  • Use the basics first, and ride that train until it breaks down and stops working.  Use carb/calorie cycling as a strategy once basic stops getting results. 
     

  • Cycling calories and nutrients is an age old practice that our ancestors did by eating with the seasons.
     

  • Cyclical eating is  an effective strategy for helping people to lose body fat, and achiever more specific body composition goals. 
     

  • Pick a calorie/carb cycling strategy based on how you react to lower carbs, muscle mass, workout volume and intensity and the amount of  body fat you have to lose. 
     

  • Set your calories and macronutrient goals for the high and low days. There are carb cycling calculators online you can use. 
     

  • Keep protein constant each day at .8-1g/lb of body weight
     

  • Keep fats lower on higher carb days
     

  • Keep carbs lower on low calorie days, increase fats a little for energy. 
     

  • Ultimately you will need to do some self experimentation to see what works best for you personally based on your own needs. Be your own guru and go with what works best  for you!

Fill out the form below if you’re looking for a coach who can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health, fat loss or muscle building goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained, while keeping you accountable along the way.


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Why We Overeat Part 1: Feast & Famine

We have all found ourselves excessively full in front of an empty plate after a meal that we barely remember eating.

We will reach for more food even though we are no longer hungry, the chip basket at the restaurant keeps getting refilled and we keep grabbing more.

It's  not that the occasional over indulgence will lead to chronic health problems and weight gain, but overeating on a daily basis is a direct contributor to many of the health problems. Those health problems include obesity, Type 2 diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, hypertension and metabolic damage.

We all have the same mechanisms  that help us regulate the amount we eat on a daily basis. When we have eaten enough nutrients, our gut signals our brain to turn hunger off  because we are well nourished this system works efficiently for most folks.

The question begs to be asked what causes some people to eat way more than their body needs while others can push the plate away when they are full ?

The first of this three part blog series I’m going explain how hunger works, how we are hardwired to overeat at times and how modern foods impact overeating.

How Hunger Works

Before we can talk about what might be going wrong in the hunger and satiety system it is important to get some context  of what hormones are at play, and how hunger is designed to work for people to balance the amount of food we eat.

Your stomach is empty and you have used up the fast acting energy. The stomach recognizes that we need fuel, and in response releases the hormone Ghrelin.

The hormone ghrelin interacts with the neurotransmitter in the brain neuropeptide Y (NPY). NPY turns on the desire  to eat and  we feel hunger signaling that we should eat.

After we eat a meal to satisfy our hunger ghrelin levels drop and Leptin is released from the stomach and fat tissue.

Leptin decreases the desire for food even further, and makes you feel full and well nourished. In a perfect world this is how our hunger and satiety is designed to work, however we do not live in a perfect world.

Primal Brains and Modern Foods

With this well developed system in place to help us regulate our energy balance in the body why can it be so easy to have a second bowl of ice cream or another handful of chocolate almonds even though we are full and satiated ?

To gains some insight into this questions lets take a look back in time. It is helpful to understand how our very distant relatives navigated their environment to ensure survival, and how that impacts us today.

When it comes to how our ancestors used to eat they regularly encountered feast and famine scenarios seasonally. When food was available they knew to gorge and eat as much as they could because those resources would not be available in the future.

We are hardwired to crave the taste of  energy dense foods to promote gorging.This was our way of knowing we needed to eat as much as possible to gain fat in preparation for famine.

From an evolutionary perspective we are hardwired to crave and gorge on these energy dense foods while they are available to ensure survival through  famines.

Using An Evolutionary Lens

Here is an example of how it worked in nature for our ancestors. When you saw a dense source of carbohydrates like fruit it meant it is late spring or summer and it is time to overeat and reproduce.

You eat lots of that fruit because the sweet taste signals this it was a safe and energy dense food. The sugar content of the fruit raises your blood sugar and the pancreas responds to the surge in blood sugar by releasing insulin.  

Insulin makes sure immediate energy reserves are met, and the rest of the sugar is sent to short term storage in your liver and muscles.

The short term storage is limited, and the extra sugar is converted to cholesterol and body fat as long term storage. Your body knows that with these energy dense foods available winter must be around the corner and it is time to prepare for a famine by gaining weight.

You have enough in short term and long term storage to get through tomorrow. This cycle is repeated on a daily basis while supplies last as an evolutionary advantage for times of famine.

The carbohydrate rich diet that we have adopted along with the low fat craze has dramatically tipped the macronutrient scale going against our biology.

Our hunter gatherer ancestors thrived on a seasonal diet for many years. The low fat craze along with the adoption of processed carbohydrates is a perfect recipe for more sugar we are designed to handle and in turn overeating and disease states as an adaptation.

We can use fat and carbohydrates for energy, if you remove one from the diet it means that we must rely on the other for all your energy.

Carbohydrates are fast acting source of energy but fat is a much longer burning source of energy. Fats help us to regulate our energy and keeps us feeling much fuller for longer. When fat was removed our foods we were forced to depend of processed carbohydrates as our source of energy all day long.

All Feast And No Famine

Our modern lifestyle is a mismatch with the hardwired feast and famine mentality. Today there is no famine, we are missing an important part of the equation that helps us to keep our energy balanced and prevent year round fat gain.

Energy dense foods were only available for part of the year as hunter gatherers, then they were gone until next year.

We now have energy dense foods  available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Our ancestors energy rich foods  contained nutrients, vitamins and minerals that satisfied and nourished them.

Our modern energy dense foods, provide many calories with very few nutrients.

Nature is smarter than we are and provides cyclical eating to help us manage our energy balance. It is an evolutionary advantage to get fat for certain parts of the year, but because our energy is out of balance we stay fat year round.

Not only have we abandoned cyclical eating, but we eat  processed foods that hijack the reward center in our brain because of how they are designed to taste.

The man made foods that hijack the reward center in our brain are very addicting as well. That addiction leads to overconsumption of foods on a yearly basis keeping us much fatter and sicker than we are supposed to be.

The addiction and food flavor design is a rabbit hole for another part of this series though.

Quality Impacts Quantity

The quality of foods that we eat have a large impact on the amount of food we are going to eat. The calories from foods that stimulate the dopaminergic pathway such as bread, pasta, grains, sugars and other processed can promote overeating.

These processed foods block the leptin signal turning off hunger and  cause people to overeat. On the other side foods such as healthy fats, veggies and protein are all high satiety foods that leave people feeling fuller for much longer.

The quality of food that you consume have a different metabolic effect on the body and hormones. Two meals with identical calories but one highly processed and the other from natural whole foods will interact with hormones and satiety very differently.

When we eat meals that contain processed carbohydrates it causes a surge in blood sugar, and the hormone insulin is released to store the extra sugar.

Excessive insulin in the body will block the signal of leptin telling the brain that we are full and satiated. Therefore the hunger signal stays turned on. This allows us to overeat foods that are designed to help us store fat, when we overeat like this on a daily basis it is a recipe for obesity and disease.

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health, fat loss or muscle building goals. 

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained, while keeping you accountable and supporting you along the way. 

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around. 

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals than before, nothing to lose. Everything to gain!


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How Break Fat Loss Plateaus

How To Break Fat Loss Plateaus

When it comes to fat loss we have been lead to believe it is a straight line towards your ideal body. Just change how you eat, sleep and exercise to look like the cover model, right ?  

Changing how you eat,sleep and exercise will absolutely lead to initial fat loss, but adjustments will need to be made.

At some point fat loss will stall, and what worked previously will no longer work. At this point it is time to make changes, not abandon ship altogether. Fat loss is a zig zag for most, not a straight line.

In response to stalls in fat loss many people begin to feel frustration and desperation. When you feel this way it is easy to look at common advice to just diet harder and exercise more.

Because a moderate amount of something works well doesn’t mean that more is better, this can apply to exercise and caloric deficits as well.

 

Basics First

When it comes to reducing food intake the body is intelligent, and attempts to keep energy balanced. Less calories in means less calories out.

This translates into a slowing of the metabolism, and less fat being burned. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and running to the next diet, we are going to tinker in the margins and make some smart modifications.

Here are some areas I have people get honest about where they are currently are:

  • Eating too few or too many calories  

  • Not getting adequate protein intake

  • The amount of stress in your life (sleep, calories and exercise can all be stressors)

  • The amount of sleep you are getting consistently (8-9 hours, black room)

  • Lifting heavy and sprinting a few times a week

  • Frustration with fat loss and scale obsession

  • Track your food intake for a few days and double check your numbers

  • Daily non training activity (walking,hiking, mobility, yoga)

  • Stress reduction practice

After looking the above areas over, and being honest about where you are at if there is one you are not currently doing work on that before adopting the habits later in the post. The above areas will need to be addressed before moving forward.

For those who have a check mark next to each area above I am going to give some basic recommendations on where to start to help you get back on the fat loss train.

I do not know what will work for you you individually so you will have to tinker and see what fits, and what doesn’t. I am here to offer the ideas and what has worked for my clients.

Do not try to adopt all these habits at once, that is going to be another added stress. Pick a few that seem like they fit and work on them until fat loss picks up again.

Zig Zag Calories:I know it seems counterintuitive to increase the calories, but when you have been in a caloric deficit for a long period of time the body adapts to burn fewer calories, because less are coming in.

Start increasing your calories by 100 the first week. Next Week bump up the calories by another 50-150 calories making sure that you're not gaining significant weight.

You should  begin to progressively lower calories again after 8-12  weeks of more calories, or if fat loss begins again.

Protein Priority: With the increased activity and training your need for protein will also increase. Most people do well in the one gram per pound of bodyweight.

A simple action step is to have 1-2 palm sized portions of protein at each meal. An added benefit is that protein is a high satiety food keeping you feeling fuller for longer.

Protein also requires more energy for the breakdown and absorption than fats and carbohydrates, this is known as the thermic effect.

Chew  Your Calories: Look at what you are putting in your coffee, alcoholic drinks per week or the green smoothie you are drinking three times a week.

Calories that we drink add up very quickly without us realizing it. This includes the green juices from health food stores, look at the calories, sugar and carbs it contain. When anyone is looking to reduce body fat or break a plateau I have them chew all their calories. Simple and easy!

Carbs post workout: I’m not talking about the doughnut and ice cream pints you see on instagram. A few potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro or a bowl of fruit post workout will help with recovery , but also by lowering cortisol you will be able to burn a little more body fat.

I would encourage someone to increase post workout carbs by 25-30 grams until you notice progress again. Everyone has a different tolerance to carbohydrates and a great guide to help is Mark’s Daily Apple carb curve.

Take A Deload Week: Instead of being completely inactive for this deload week I like to see folks walking 45-60 minutes a day or going for a few hikes.

Get outside, play and have fun! Dedicate 15-20 minutes to mobility and restoration. This would be a time to address any nagging injuries or mobility issues. Take the dog for an extra walk every day or decide you are finally going to learn slack lining.

Relax : Stress is a true killer of both building muscle and losing fat. Start by dedicating 5-10 minutes to some form of stress reduction. This could be a morning walk, yoga, or meditating.

There is a great guided meditation app for the iphone named Head Space that takes about 10 minutes and is perfect for beginners.

Make Sleep A Priority: 8-9 hours in a pitch black and mildly cold room. Guard it religiously and develop a routine around it. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep read my post on ways to improve your sleep.

Avoid Chronic Cardio: I’m not talking about a few short 20-30 minute recovery runs, but the folks who slog away on the treadmill for 60+ minutes in an attempt to burn more calories.

While you will burn calories you are also pumping out the stress hormone cortisol which causes fluid retention and inflammation.

This long distance running will also dramatically increase appetite, especially for those denser carbs that you burn running.

Sprints: Once you have returned from your deload week begin incorporating 1-2 sprint sessions per week. These are ideally done on the same day as a weight training session.

You can hit a track, hill, rower, exercise bike or prowler for these sprint sessions. They should be 30 seconds of all out max effort combined with active rest for about one minute. Start with 5-7 rounds of sprints per session and increase as you adapt.

Consider Intermittent Fasting: Intermittent fasting (IF) does not work well for everyone, however there many folks  that it seems to kick start their fat loss.

IF is purposely engaging in periods where no calories are consumed and eating your food within a certain time frame. It can be especially helpful for those who are stuck in a fat loss plateau.

There are a number of methods to choose from but most include not eating for a period of 16-24 hours. This time includes when you are asleep.

Typically people stop eating after dinner  around 8pm and go to sleep.When you wake instead of eating breakfast have coffee or tea and eat for the first meal of the day at lunch.

This would be the normal 16-18 hour fast. Other folks go a full 24 hours without eating, this could be a 2pm Tuesday to 2pm Wednesday fast that allows you to fast for 24 hours, but still eat every day

Closing Thoughts

The above tips are a great start for anyone who has a good start on fat loss but it has since hit a wall with fat loss.

Remember that the common idea that you are not working hard enough and need to restrict calories further and exercise more, not only doesn’t work but can wreck your metabolism as well.

By slowing down the metabolism it will make breaking your next fat loss plateau even more difficult.

Instead choose to tinker in the margins and make sure your body is nourished and healthy enough to begin losing fat again.

Once someone approaches their ideal body composition it will require a lot more work and exact science to hit certain marks.

Before you get too down on yourself for not being as lean as you want ask if you have been putting in the work to get there ?

If not, realize that fat loss is not always easy and like anything worth while take consistency and dedication. To achieve sustainable fat loss you need to adopt sustainable habits to get you there.  

Paleo and Vegans: More In Common Than You Think

My journey into nutrition and a healthier lifestyle began with veganism. I saw the documentary “Forks Over Knives” and it opened my eyes to the poor foods I was eating on a daily basis.

I felt much better as a vegan than I had in the past, but I experienced some drawbacks too. This was a vast improvement from how I had eaten my entire life, but knew that I could feel better.

As I learned more about nutrition and wanted to improve how I felt. I decided to switch to vegetarianism with a lot more fish and eggs in my diet. This was another improvement and I felt much better than when I was vegan, but knew that I was not done tweaking.

I heard about the paleo/primal lifestyle from a few different people who had great success. After learning more about the paleo principles I decided to give it a try.

When I removed grains and processed carbohydrates from my diet and ate more vegetables and healthy fats, it was the best I ever felt. I no longer required that afternoon coffee and was able to finally drop the excess body fat I struggled with since an early age.

Even within the ancestral template I am still tweaking how I eat on a daily basis these days. I have experimented with a very low carb ketogenic diet, and a higher carbohydrate with white rice and white potatoes. I continue to make switches in my nutrition and lifestyle on the quest to improve how I look, feel and perform.  

Everyone has their own journey into a healthier lifestyle and it requires tweaking and experimenting to see what works for them.

Many different factors including goals and genetics, climate and stress dictate how a person can optimally fuel themselves.  What could be perfect for one person is a disaster for another, nutrition is highly individualized.

Paleo, Vegan, Primal, Weston A Price, Vegetarianism - everyone has a dog in the fight for diet supremacy. Anybody who is dedicated to a diet is looking for dramatic changes in the food industry.

For the whole foods movement to gain steam the diet dogmatic folks will need to put aside the differences, and focus on what we can all agree on. Only by banding together can we actually make a difference in our broken food system.

Whether Paleo or Vegan the only way we are going to make a ripple in the food industry is if we realize together we are much stronger  than we are separated. We are going to need every comrade possible to go against the food industry and elicit any change.

We all have a roadmap to optimal health, and similar goals at the very end of the path. How we get there may differ, but we’re all going to the same place and face the same struggles along the way. This blog post is going discuss what vegans and paleo folks have in common.

Let Hunger Guide You, Not Calories

To get rid of the obsessive nature around food, we need to get back in touch with our innate hunger signal.  People worry too much about counting calories and grams of fat.

When people are are eating a healthy diet with adequate protein, fat and lots of vegetables chances are pretty good you will naturally be in a caloric deficit.

In both the vegan and paleo camps there is a an emphasis on eating when you are hungry and not eating when you are not, pretty simple. 

We have built in mechanisms that regulate our food intake.  This way of using hunger allows us to eat until we are full and not overeat.

Excessive Sugar Intake Is Unhealthy

There is no debate that excessive consumption of added sugar is bad for us all. Sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane sugar and agave are very harmful and are widely used in packaged foods. Sugars are empty calories, and a metabolic toxin.

Most people are not going out of their way to consume excessive amounts of sugar, but because it is a staple in processed foods, people are consuming more than they think.

The best way to ensure you are avoiding sugar is to eat foods that come from nature, no package or label necessary. Also make sure to read labels and become learn the different names for sugar there are over 56 names!

Fermented Foods and Gut Health Are Important

The importance of having a healthy gut is really on the home front of health these days. Having a healthy gut biome is crucial to the overall health of everyone!

One of the best ways to support the healthy bacteria in our stomach is to consume probiotic rich fermented foods such as kraut, kimchi, beet kvass, fermented vegetables and kombucha. There has been some interesting information about eating prebiotic rich foods.

Prebiotics give your body the necessary terrain to grow these beneficial bacteria. These prebiotic foods are rich in resistant starch which is resistant to digestion in the gut and passes through to the colon undigested to feed the healthy bacteria.

The microorganisms in our gut have far reaching impacts on the body from our moods, energy and cravings to immune system health.

Processed Carbohydrates Should Be Reduced

There are plenty of healthy cultures from around the world that consume a  diet consisting mostly of carbohydrates, however those carbohydrates are from natural sources, not a factory.

Carbohydrates are a hot button topic in nutrition, but even the low carb evangelists can agree that unprocessed sources are less detrimental to health than processed carbs.

There is a lot of debate about carbohydrates all over the internet, but no one can argue that processed carbohydrates are calorically rich, but nutrient poor.

On the other side vegetables and natural starches are nutrient dense and do not have a ton of calories. If you are interested in a more extensive discussion of carbohydrates check out my blog post:

http://www.evolvenutritionaltherapy.com/eat-to-evolve-blog/2015/1/7/are-carbohydrates-bad-for-you-

We All Need Healthy Fats

Fats play pivotal roles in cellular membrane composition, energy, neurological and blood sugar health - we can all agree these are very important. Whatever way you choose to eat, healthy fats are a basic requirement  for health.

Some of the largest sources of fat in the paleo and vegan communities are the same: coconut oil, avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds avocado oil and coconut products.

Obviously a vegan would opt to not consume some of the fats in the paleo community such as butter and grass fed beef, yet both  choose to avoid the highly processed man made oils such as: corn, soybean, canola, margarine and hydrogenated oils.

We can all agree the we need these natural fats that come from nature to make us healthy, and that the man made fats deteriorate our health.

Health Expands Beyond Just Nutrition

When it comes to looking, feeling and performing at your best certain aspects of life  are just as important, if not more so than nutrition.

Nutrition is a vital component of optimal health, but a healthy lifestyle goes beyond just food. To be truly healthy you have to have a healthy lifestyle, not just three nutritious meals.

We are designed to move frequently and at varying intensities. Exercise means different things to different people, but we all require and benefit from it metabolically and psychologically.

Sleep and stress management are other components that play a huge role in our health and are frequently looked over. I feel that sleep is the most overlooked aspect of health and the benefits of quality sleep are astounding when you read the research.

Another area that has been widely discussed in the health and wellness realm for the past few years is stress management.

You can have the best diet in the world, but if you are a stress ball your health will suffer. Too much stress can cause poor digestion, blood sugar problems, adrenal stress and sleep problems. Taking 20 minutes day to go for a walk outside, meditate or engage in some stress reduction will work wonders for your health.  

Coconut Is Back On The Menu

For a period of time everyone was avoiding coconut products because of the saturated fat content that supposedly caused cardiovascular disease.

We have since learned coconuts are among the healthiest foods on the planet, and do not damage our health or cause cardiovascular disease.

The medium chain triglycerides (MCT) and lauric acid from coconut have a wide variety of benefits  such as neurological health, joint health, energy, weight loss, heart health and also heart health.

Supplements Can Not Take The Place Of An Healthy Diet

With the current state of our soil and the way animals are raised there are certain nutrient deficiencies that we are going to have despite our best efforts.

Other nutrients are very hard to obtain in adequate amounts from whole foods. The smart use of supplements can be a good insurance policy for the hard to get nutrients.

When it comes to vitamins, minerals and other nutrients whole foods are the best option. Whole foods are very complex, and there are many enzymes and certain vitamins that play a crucial role in the effectiveness of nutrients.

Far too often the focus  is on an isolated nutrient while ignoring the other reactions in whole foods that make a nutrient useful. Supplements should be used to help with an already healthy diet, not in place of it.

Dairy Is A Grey Area Food

Dairy is one of the grey area foods that some people do fine with, but others react negatively.There are sects of vegetarianism and paleo/primal communities that have adopted dairy.

Those who are adhering to a more traditional paleo and vegan lifestyle will avoid dairy products. With the  widespread avoidance of dairy, many great dairy free alternatives have come to surface that meet the needs of paleo and vegans alike.  

Coconut milk, almond, cashew and rice milks have all come to be popularized

Vegetables Are Important For Optimal Health

Vegetables are universally accepted as a health food by everyone Paleo to Vegan. When it comes to nutrient density eggs and organ meats are two of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, but not everyone will eat grass fed liver.

People from every style of eating are far more willing across the board to consume vegetables to improve their health.

Vegetables are calorie for calorie some of the  highest foods in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The high nutrient content combined with fiber and being lower in calories makes them a perfect weight loss food and good for overall health.

Whole Foods Are More Nutritious Than Processed Foods

We have evolved over the ages eating real nutrient dense foods that come from nature. These foods are very rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and enzymes. these natural foods are alive.

A large portion of our diet in this day and age is not real food. Chemicals, preservatives, artificial flavorings, food dyes, processed oils, artificial sugars are not a food.Yet we eat an astounding amount of these "non foods" daily.

These foods are very nutrient poor, but calorically rich. Our body has a brilliant communication system between the brain and  gut that allows us to eat enough to be nourished, and turn off hunger afterwards.

The signal from the gut tells the brain that nutrient needs are met, and to turn the hunger signal in the brain off. But when we eat these “dead” foods our gut does not receive the nutrients it needs and keeps the hunger signal in the brain turned on.

This hijacking of the hunger signal makes overconsumption a regular part of the day. Over time this repeated over consumption of these high calorie low nutrient foods leads to obesity and metabolic problems.

There Are A Wide Variety Of Diets That Are Healthy

In nutrition dogma runs rampant and people become so entrenched in their personal  beliefs that they end up giving the one size fits all “magic bullet diet".

We all have different genetics, needs, goals  and stresses that should shape our nutrition. There is a lot of  debate about which diet is “the right” diet, but more importantly it needs to be asked what is “the right” diet for you.

When it comes to leading a healthy life it needs to be viewed as a  marathon not a sprint. The style of eating that you can do consistently, that makes you look, feel and perform your best is what works for you.

There are certain things that we all know are bad for health and should be avoided such as excessive sugar, hydrogenated oils and processed foods.

Hydrogenated and Man Made Trans Fats Are Harmful

Trans fats do occur in nature, but for our purposes I’m talking about processed man made trans fats. They are unnatural polyunsaturated fats that are chemically altered to resemble saturated fats, but without the benefits of saturated fats.

These polyunsaturated fats are chemically altered to become hydrogenated fats by exposing them to excessively high heats (damaging), pressure (damaging) and hydrogen gas with nickel.

By making these unnatural hydrogenated fats they resemble saturated fats in texture, and can last much longer on a shelf. Sounds like a healthy thing to consume right ? Rhetorical question folks.

These foods are highly inflammatory due to the unnatural omega 6 fatty acid content. The overconsumption of these fats has been linked to higher small dense LDL particles which are damaging, and lower fluffy HDL cholesterol particles which are healthy.

There have also been links to metabolic damage and adipose tissue around the abdomen. Avoid these oils at all costs.

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

Evolve Nutritional Therapy Strategy Session


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12 Reasons You're Not Losing Weight On A Low Carb Diet

There are many factors that go into sustainable fat loss. These factors go far beyond counting calories, macros or whether you are vegan or paleo.

The fat loss war is bigger than just the diet and exercise portion. It is about the signals you are sending to your body on all home fronts that need to be considered diet, exercise, stress, sleep, lifestyle, genetic factors and your hormonal profile are all contributors to the fat loss war. 

Many people see significant benefits in their ability to lose fat by reducing carbohydrates and sugars. It has proven to be very effective for a lot of clients I have worked with.

However just like any other piece in the health puzzle, what fits someone else and helps them attain their goals may not work for you. We are all bio-individuals and have a number of different needs and factors that make you unique, and one of  kind. A snowflake of sorts! 

The individual needs of each person reaches farther than their diet and exercise regime. Many of these individual factors need to be recognized and planned for when waging a war against body fat.

In this blog post I am going to explain the main reasons beyond lowering carbs that you are not losing weight, and what to do about it. 

Too Much Stress In Your Life

The reality for a lot of people is that a healthy diet and exercise alone are not enough to achieve the fat loss they are looking for. We live in a fast paced world packed with unnatural stress.

Our body recognizes stress as a stimulus which it responds to the same  no matter where it  comes from. Whether you are getting chased by a sabertooth tiger or getting reprimanded by your boss, the body reacts the same way.

This stressful lifestyle puts our body in a constant state of fight or flight causing the release of the stress hormone cortisol.

Chronically elevated cortisol can increase unhealthy food cravings, muscle breakdown, fat storage and makes insulin resistance much worse. Sounds like a recipe for fat gain huh ? 

The Fix: Take a step back from your life and honestly assess how much stress you deal with on a daily basis, and what stressful situations could be eliminated. Adopt a stress management technique such as meditation, journaling, walks outside and deep breathing. These simple steps could help your overall health not only weight loss.

Your Carbs Are Higher Than You Think

It is very common to underestimate how much we eat, and overestimate how much we exercise. There is also the fact that some folks are far more sensitive to carbohydrates than others, and it's going to cause them to lose or gain weight much quicker.

The leaner you are chances are pretty good you can tolerate more carbs without fat gain than someone who is very overweight. 

If your weight loss has plateaued  log your food for a day or two and put it into some sort of fitness tracker like Fitday or My Fitness Pal to see where your carbohydrate intake is and adjust to meet your goals from there. 

The Fix: If you are not a hard charging athlete and are taking in over 100-150 grams of carbohydrates per day  dial back on carbs until fat loss begins again. To enter nutritional ketosis where many find accelerated fat loss go for 50 grams of carbohydrates from vegetables,  berries and other lower glycemic load foods or fruits.

You Need To Move More Throughout The Day

The caloric deficit we create daily with exercise is fairly small, and can become caloric excess with a snack or extra helping of food.

You should not be exercising to burn calories, but instead because mentally and physically there are many benefits.With exercise you will be able to create a better metabolic environment, build muscle and improve your mood and feeling of well being.

Not all exercise has to be a sweat drenched high intensity trip to the gym, aim for three to five hours per week of low level physical activity like walking or hiking.

Lift weights to build muscle mass which in turn improves your hormonal profile and helps to burn body fat in the long run. Use some short interval training or sprints as your cardio, it will boost growth hormone and can help to oxidize (burn) fat long after you are done.

The Fix: Incorporate 3-5 hours of low level walking and hiking along with 3-4 bouts of strength training per week. If you really want to make a push to burn extra fat include a sprint session or two. 

You Need More Sleep

Not getting enough sleep causes people to feel hungrier , have less willpower , blood sugar dysregulation, decreased performance in the gym, difficulty losing body fat/ building muscle and can negatively impact your hormones.

Lack of sleep is a stress on the body that can wreak havoc on our health, especially when trying to perform at an optimal level daily. 

Not getting enough sleep causes the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which is efficient at helping us store body fat. To add fuel to the fire, our largest release of the  muscle building/ fat burning hormone (growth hormone) takes place while we are in the deepest stage of sleep.

Sleep is not negotiable, and is required for health. your results in the gym, work and life will suffer if you don’t get between 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night consistently.

The Fix: Get to bed before 11:00 and shoot for 7-9 hours of sleep nightly. If you have trouble falling asleep clean up your sleep hygiene and start to make a night time routine to help you wind down and get to bed earlier. If you need tips for helping to improve your sleep refer to my earlier blog post “ 10 Ways To Improve Your Sleep”

You Are Eating Too Many Calories

Low carb is an effective strategy for a lot of people, but at the end of the day when you are trying to lose fat calories do matter.

What makes a low carb diet so effective is that it reduces the appetite and naturally makes people consume less calories.

If your fat loss has stalled but you are doing everything else right, look at how many calories you are taking in on a daily basis.

Be aware though that all calories are not created equal, and have different hormonal effects on the body because of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals they contain or lack.

As you approach your ideal body composition the small details become a larger part of the picture. 

The Fix: Take a look at some of the more calorically dense foods in low carb diets like nuts, nut butters and cheese that people can go overboard with ,and reduce consumption. Use a calorie tracker like My Fitness Pal or Fitday and see what your calories for three days are. When going for fat loss shoot for the range of 10-12 times body weight in calories. I am not encouraging anyone to count macros or calories long term, but just for a few days to get a realistic idea of how many calories you are taking in. 

You Are Not Eating Enough Vegetables

Many folks who adopt a low carb diet assume that they should avoid vegetables and fruits because they contain carbohydrates, but this is a big mistake.

Plants are some of the most nutrient dense foods and contain vitamins, minerals and lots of indigestible fiber that help with fat loss. The indigestible fiber you get from fruits and veggies helps you to feel fuller for longer and reduces the cravings.

Make sure to consume healthy fruits and vegetables with every meal and avoid the ‘low carb treats” and bars.

You will need to personalize your fruit intake, because some of them are higher in carbohydrates and will prevent you from entering ketosis. Fruits such as berries and other low glycemic load fruits can fit in the low carb diet because they are lower in carbs and higher in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

The Fix: Consume 1-2 cups of low glycemic vegetables at every meal to give your body the nutrients it needs and keep you fuller for longer. Some vegetables that are lower in carbohydrates and can be enjoyed are: spinach, kale, collards, eggplant, broccoli, celery, bok choy, mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, onion, garlic.

You Are Over Consuming Dairy Products

Even though dairy is lower in carbs it does contain a good amount of protein and like carbs,  protein can be insulinogenic.

Protein much like carbohydrates when over consumed can raise insulin levels. This insulin  causes fat storage.  Even if you have no negative reactions to dairy, consuming it multiples times a day can cause extra spikes in insulin shutting down fat burning capabilities, and stalling fat loss progress.

The Fix: If fat loss has stalled reduce and eliminate milk, cheese, yogurt and cream. Because butter is very low in protein and lactose it will not spike insulin, you can also get Ghee which is butter fat with all the milk solids removed.

You Have Restricted Calories For Too Long

Being in a calorie deficit for too long can create some problems with the metabolism and can slow weight loss. When in a caloric deficit for too long it will slow down the metabolism.

The body is very intelligent and realizes that less food is coming in and in response it becomes more efficient by slowing the rate at which we burn calories to prevent starvation.

To prevent the metabolism slowing down people will purposely spike calories from healthy foods, especially from carbohydrates once a week. This weekly spike in calories sends the signal to the body that we are not starving and to  keep the metabolism humming along.

The Fix: If you have kept your calories and carbohydrates restricted for a long period of time and fat loss has stalled you may want to consider picking a meal or day once a week and  eat higher calories especially from carbohydrates at this meal/day. These should still be healthy foods, this is not a license to crush a dozen doughnuts once a week.

You Are Putting On Muscle Mass

Don’t live and die by the scale, while it can be helpful the scale does not tell the entire story when it comes to losing weight.

When you start to incorporate a more active lifestyle with better sleep and better eating habits  an environment to put on muscle mass and improve bone density has been created.

The great thing about  gaining muscle mass is it will help with fat loss. But because muscle mass is denser than fat,  weight on the scale may stay the same or go up.

The Fix: Take greater stock in other measurements that are not related to the scale. Make sure to keep how you look, feel and perform in your mind. If you staying at the same weight but body composition is changing in the mirror for the better don’t sweat the scale.

You Are Not Being Honest With Yourself

A lot of people will tell someone that they want to lose weight, but their actions do not match what they are saying. Everyone has met the person who tells everyone at a gathering they are on a strict diet.

Twenty minutes later the same person is at the food table stuffing their face with cookies, candy and potato chips. When asked  about their “diet” they explain that they are going to restart it tomorrow.

Months later you run into the same person again and ask them how the diet  is going and they respond saying it didn’t “work” for them. I highly doubt it was that the diet didn't work. That person was not ready for the large change they attempted to take on. 

The problem is that most people are not honest with themselves about what they really want in that moment. Delaying gratification is very difficult and can take years of practice.  

There should never be any shame or guilt around food choices, just consequences. If you value eating four cookies every day more than fat loss or getting healthier that is your personal choice, no judgement. However don’t tell people you don’t know why you can’t lose that last ten pounds.

The Fix: Be completely honest about what you value in your life and why that is important to you. Do not beat yourself up over slip ups. Instead recognize in that moment you valued what you chose over the delayed gratification of staying on course. The beauty is that next time you have the opportunity to make a better choice. 

You Are Eating Processed Low Carb Foods, Not Real Foods

There are plenty of low carb bars and processed foods that can be found in the grocery store. Low carb does not always mean it is a healthy option.

When adopting a new style of eating you have to be aware of the buzzwords that the food industry will use to sell you products.

When switching to a lower carb diet replace those carbs with whole nutrient dense food that comes from nature such as fish, meat, eggs, vegetables and healthy fats.

When reducing carbs it is very important to eat more fats. You are taking one energy nutrient away in the form of carbohydrates, and need to replace it with fats for energy. If you try to go low carb and low fat at the same time you will be starving all the time and feel horrible.

The Fix: Eat nutrient dense whole foods that come from nature such as meats, vegetables, fish, fruits, eggs, nuts, seeds and healthy fats such as coconut products, butter, palm oil, avocados and olives and olive oil.

You Are Impatient

One healthy meal will not make you lean, just like one unhealthy meal is not the cause of weight gain. Changing your lifestyle and staying consistent is the key to the battle against fat loss.

Some people are able to lose fat very quickly while others will lose fat slower. If you are someone who loses fat slowly don’t jump ship after a month saying it didn’t work, you need to be patient and adopt a new lifestyle that includes sleep, exercise, stress management and healthy eating. Diets fail but lifestyle changes do not. 

Adopting new habits can be very intimidating and difficult for people. I like the example of the mountain that is made up of pebbles.

The mountain is the persons goal and the pebbles are small habits that will get them to their goal. Most people want to move the entire mountain on the first day, but quickly get discouraged when the mountain doesn't budge.

What works better is to move a pebble a day, and over time you will move that mountain, but one pebble at a time. Small habits add up to big changes and goals being met. 

The Fix: Be patient and know that it will take time, if you stay patient and stick to the plan the reward of that consistency will be looking, feel and performing your daily tasks better. Given a long enough time to make these changes you can lose weight, but not everyone will look like a fitness model with just these tips. Be honest and realistic with yourself about your habits, and learn to love the process.

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

Evolve Nutritional Therapy Strategy Session


Name *
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