What is Food?
Before you begin any type of diet change in an attempt to lose weight, you must learn how food works in your body. Simply put, a calorie is NOT just a calorie. Your daily caloric needs are very important. Eat too many and you’ll gain weight, eat too few and it’s likely your body’s metabolism will slow down to match the amount of calories you are consuming. BUT, it’s not just about how many calories. It’s important to pay attention to where you are getting your calories.
Food is fuel. Period. We’ve turned food into entertainment. It’s so engrained in our social and private behavior that food has permeated nearly every aspect of our life including being used as a feel good drug. For most people food is available to us 24/7. It quite literally can become an addiction.
I say things like “likely” because this is a simple birds eye view and your results may vary based on how much metabolic damage you have and your current medical condition.
The same way a calorie is not a calorie, a macronutrient is not just a macronutrient. Carbohydrates come in all types. Bread, refined sugar, sweet potatoes, and broccoli sprouts are all forms of carbohydrates. Some are good, some are not. Fats are not all created equal. Fats have been demonized. Manmade fats like vegetable/soybean oil and trans fats are demons, stay away from these. Ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil, avocados and fats from animals are all much healthier.
There are three main macronutrients at play. Carbohydrates, protein and fat. Carbohydrates are the quick and easy fuel for your body. They are the “first to burn” of the the three main macronutrients. Carbs are broken down into glucose and stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. There they sit until you call on them via different forms of exercise. Failure to deplete your glycogen stores will result in nearly everything you consume being converted to fat. This is the trap most people fall into. Overconsumption of carbohydrates and very little exercise. If you limit the amount of carbohydrates (healthy and unhealthy carbs) you consume to less than 100g per day you will likely lose body fat and weight. There you have it. It’s that simple. Obviously you want those carbs to be from nutritious sources. It’s also important to note that even if you do exercise, it’s nearly impossible to out exercise a bad diet.
So where do your calories come from? Healthy fats, quality protein, and the appropriate amount of healthy carbs that you determine for yourself. In the absence of carbohydrates, your body breaks down stored fat and uses dietary fat for energy. It uses protein to keep your body healthy. This process does take some getting used to as your body is likely so reliant on dietary carbohydrate. This is where it’s helpful to work with a health coach to walk through the first week or two with you.
Keep the main thing the main thing. No grains, no sugar, and no vegetable/seed oils. Keep your carb intake (from fresh above ground veggies and minimal fruit) aligned with your weight loss goals. 100-150g for effortless weight maintenance, 50-100g for steady weight loss, 0-50g for ketosis/rapid fat loss. Ketosis should be done under observation of your PCP and certified health coach. Unless you assume all risk and go at it alone. Which many do. If your doctor or PCP is hesitant to agree with a keto/low carb eating pattern, perhaps you could bring some of this information with you to your appointment and show the most recent studies.
That’s the snapshot. It really is pretty simple when you break it down to science. But there is some fine tuning you can do along the way.