Calorie Counting BS
Calorie counting is at the top of my list of bad ideas within the fitness industry. Yet, the practice of "cutting calories" to "lose weight" remains as popular as ever. Unless you are morbidly obese, general weight loss is not a good indicator of an effective exercise and nutrition program. And even then, weight loss tells us nothing about the changes in body composition that are occurring due to the weight loss.
I'm in the business of building better bodies; my focus is on optimizing joint function, improving health markers, increasing lean muscle mass and decreasing body fat. Your body fat percentage is based on your ratio of muscle tissue to fat tissue, and this is dependent on how well you distribute nutrients and energy. This complex mechanism is known as nutrient partitioning.
The old Calories in vs Calories out model tells us nothing about how calories are partitioned.
Based on this simple model, if you normally consume 2500 Kcal/day and you decrease calories to 2000/day, you should lose 1 pound of fat in 7 days.
Sounds simple, but it is wrong. As a matter of fact, no study has EVER proven this formula to be valid. Calories intake and Calorie expenditure are dependent variables. If you decrease calories, but the nutrient partitioning software is faulty, you will experience fatigue and excessive hunger. What matters is how your body distributes the energy consumed.
You already have a built in calorie counter; if you need to count calories to achieve a healthy bodyfat level, then your appetite regulator(nutrient partitioning software) is broken. The solution is to fix the system first.
The energy that you consume is managed by your nutrient partitioning system(metabolism) that orchestrates and maintains blood sugar and homeostasis. If this system is not working properly, you will store more fat than you burn and experience excessive cravings whenever your miss a meal. With a faulty metabolism, eating less calories will only slow down the system, yet you will continue to store more fat than you burn and have even less energy than before.
Calories in and calories out are DEPENDENT variables, the less calories you consume the less energy you tend to expend. This survival mechanism is very difficult to override.
The goal of a good nutritional regimen is to reprogram your metabolic software so that you burn fuel at an optimal rate which allows you to lose fat and maintain a high energy expenditure.
The model below is oversimplified but will give you an idea of the complexity of nutrient partitioning. When you consume a meal, your nutrient partitioning software directs where and how energy is distributed. If this software is primed for fat loss, you will oxidize fat at a greater rate than you store it, the result being an optimized body fat level and a high energy.
Five steps to reprogram your nutrient partitioning software
- Improve the quality of food consumed. Eat organic fruits and vegetables, raw nuts, grass fed beef, free range poultry/eggs, wild caught fish, and wild game as often as possible.
- Prioritize high quality animal protein and strive to consume at least 25 grams of protein with each meal. Always eat protein first with each meal, this strategy is shown to minimize insulin response when carbohydrates are consumed after. If you have cravings, eat more protein and vegetables.
- Eliminate refined carbohydrates(sugar, flour, bread, cereal), limit overall carbohydrate intake, and limit processed fat intake. Excess carbohydrates and sugar consumption disrupts the nutrient partitioning software.
- Implement intermittent fasting protocols 2-3 days/week. Abstaining from food for periods of 16-24 hours is a simple way to reset the system.
- Strive for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Bedroom should be pitch black and cool. Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on blood sugar and endocrine function.