Between the two of us, Coach Guy Massi and myself have almost fifty years of experience as strength coaches, personal trainers, and, more often than not, life coaches. That’s 2,600 weeks. Not a single one of those 2,600 weeks have gone by without someone asking us about a new diet trend. Some people ask about “Going Keto”; some ask about my experience with intermittent fasting. Others wonder if it’s worth their time to join a Weight Monitoring group, and some ask about the new “Only eat nightshade vegetables dipped in the armpit secretions of a Panamanian Night Monkey” diet that they heard some Hollywood starlet is losing all sorts of weight with. All of these avid inquirers usually have one thing in common: they want to lose weight and burn fat. They unfortunately tend to have another thing in common: They don’t want the most simple and often effective solution.
Everyone wants a magic bullet. Everyone wants to enjoy their brownies and offset the intake by only eating beets for the rest of the week, or ingest fat to the point where they couldn’t even think of eating an evil vile carbohydrate.~ Coach Craig
Everyone wants a magic bullet. Everyone wants to enjoy their brownies and offset the intake by only eating beets for the rest of the week, or ingest fat to the point where they couldn’t even think of eating an evil vile carbohydrate. After all, it worked for that person they heard on that podcast that they’ve never met and of whom they know no other lifestyle factors. Well here’s the truth folks: THERE IS a bullet that may not be magic, but is the closest thing that we have if a werewolf were ever to show up: EAT LESS.
A lot of you just groaned. I felt it through my keyboard. It came through my laptop speakers. I’m sorry, but it’s true! If you eat less calories than your body is able to utilize through proper exercise and lifestyle activities, YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT. It’s simple thermodynamics. Now this is not to discount that people have thyroid problems, or life stress factors that can affect their metabolism. This is also not to say that “a calorie is a calorie”, because surviving off of donuts is surely not as good for you as eating salmon and spinach (so yes, consider quality as well an quantity for the sake of internal health). I’m also not discounting any benefits in energy, mood or blood panel results that someone may see from intermittent fasting (IF), limiting carbs, or cutting down on meat intake etc. I myself practice IF and think it may have helped me clear up some issues I was having with my bloodwork (despite recent research saying otherwise). I’m not saying that each diet doesn’t have the potential to benefit you in some way. In fact, everyone reacts to every diet differently (genetic polymorphism), and may see an uptick in metabolic performance on any particular eating plan. However, weight loss will always come down to taking in less than you your body can utilize. Gaining and maintaining muscle, and achieving a positive body composition is where we come in.
A lot of factors can affect the perceived effectiveness of lowering one’s food intake to lose weight. People tend to underestimate how much they are eating portion-wise, and most “calorie planners” don’t take enough factors into account when coming up with an RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance). It’s easy to go online, punch in some numbers, get a suggested intake, and then guess if you’re eating less than that. It then becomes just as easy to say that eating less didn’t help you lose weight when your scale stays the same. However, if you’re willing to go through the trouble of getting a truly accurate caloric intake based on everything from activity level, to metabolic health, to age. If you’re then willing to go through the trouble of accurately reporting your daily macronutrient consumption while aiming to keep it below that suggested intake? Well then folks, I’d be truly surprised if you didn’t see that scale move.
So go keto, go vegan, go carnivore, and only eat for ten hours a day if that’s what you want to do, but keep your “energy in” lower than your “energy out”, and the weight should start to come off.