I have said it before and I will probably say it again… counting calories is dumb. Energy-In, Energy-Out Diet Theory (aka Calorie Theory) is GARBAGE. The mantra of those who believe in this false hypothesis that you simply have to expend more calories than you eat to lose fat is “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie”. I’ve been putting up with this nonsense for about 20 years. You can’t talk people out of what they BELIEVE to be true. But, finally (!), mainstream media (MSM) is starting to catch up with the idea that 2000 calories from chicken IS A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE from 2000 calories from sugar. And, if you view exercise as just a way to expend calories that you hope, theoretically, will make you lose body fat, you are sadly mistaken. Exercise doesn’t work because of simple calorie expenditure either. Losing fat is NOT based on the Law of Thermodynamics. Applying the Law of Thermodynamics to fat loss is SEVERELY misguided. So, to repeat… calories in / calories out dietary theory and hypothesis is GARBAGE. It’s not helping you! Get rid of that notion!
How do you really lose fat?
Simple. FOOD CHOICE. Eat foods that open up the metabolic pathways in the body that make it easy for you to lose fat. A meal is a HORMONAL EVENT. A workout is a HORMONAL EVENT. Unless you are a complete knucklehead, you can see that eating stuff like Oreo cookies is NOT going to help you lose fat, whereas eating salmon just might help you lose fat. But, I know… you want simply rules that you can apply immediately for fast fat loss. Instead of categorizing EVERY food into good, bad, or neutral, I have an easier tactic for you. Eat only the foods that allow you to get into ketosis.
What is ketosis?
The Wikipedia definition of ketosis does a fair job of describing what it is. Read about it. And while you are at it, read about the difference between ketosis (not a harmful state) and ketoacidosis (a harmful state that occurs in diabetics). Because few things annoy me more than people assuming that ketosis is a harmful state before they even have a clue about what it is. But let’s get back to the useful part of this post. The fastest way to achieve PURE FAT LOSS is to achieve ketosis. Once you are in ketosis and your body switches from burning primarily glucose to burning primarily ketones, you will be burning most of your calories from fat. And in that metabolic state, muscle protein is naturally conserved. Meaning that you will maintain or even add (depending on your training program) muscle. Maintaining muscle during WEIGHT LOSS is the only way to lower you bodyfat percentage when losing fat. Bodyfat percentage is a function of how much fat you have versus how much lean body mass (muscle, bone, non-fat) you carry. If you lose fat AND muscle at the same time, you just become a smaller FAT person, soft like a couch cushion. Being in ketosis will naturally spare your muscle and target your fat stores for breakdown and transformation into energy.
What Foods Do You Eat to Achieve Ketosis?
Easiest dieting and nutrition program rule EVER… AVOID ALL CARBOHYDRATES. I know, I know, that’s crazy, you need your carbs, right?!? Yes, you need them if you want to be stuck in an every increasingly fat body. And I’m not saying there is ANYTHING wrong with that. I don’t judge people because they are overweight. I view it as a personal choice. But I am assuming you are reading this because you would like to have less fat on you. Avoid all carbohydrates. The more you avoid carbohydrates, the lower your body fat percentage will become. Avoiding carbohydrates in everyday practice can be a little challenging, but it can be done. The nice thing about it is you will find you are much LESS HUNGRY overall when you avoid carbohydrates, ESPECIALLY when you achieve ketosis. Also, 99.9% of people who achieve ketosis notice that they are much more energetic and more easily focused mentally. Nice benefits I would say, wouldn’t you? I went to a social function recently and had a casual conversation with a very wise woman about the idea of avoiding bad carbohydrates. She quickly pointed out that all the way back in the early 70’s, some people were suggesting the rule of avoiding the “5 Whites” – salt, sugar, flour, rice, and potato, for the purpose of weight loss and improved health.
“But, the human body NEEDS sugar…”. Nope. It’s doesn’t. The liver can MAKE SUGAR out of amino acids, glycerol, and lactic acid.
Indeed, carbohydrate restrictive dieting is NOT new. There is research on it going back over 100 years. So, let’s assume you are going to avoid carbohydrates and attempt to achieve ketosis. That’s where the Ketostix (pictured above) come into play. It will take you about 3 days (maybe even 4 or 5 days!) to get into ketosis and start getting a reading on your Ketostix Strips. Just in case you missed it, you PEE on these “sticks”, wait 15 seconds and compare your color to the key on the side of the bottle. KetoStix are readily available at most pharmacies. Treat it as Pass/Fail. Either you get a color change or you don’t. You don’t need to get the darkest reading for the fat loss to be successful. Once you are in Ketosis, think about this- everything you are doing is burning more fat than normal. This is the time to do more cardio and/or lift more weights! I like to “break” ketosis about once every 7 days (once a week) with a high carbohydrate meal. I would suggest ideally that breaking your ketosis with high quality carbohydrates like oatmeal and sweet potatoes is a better idea than breaking it with Fruit Loops and Chocolate Milk, but that is really up to you. And breaking the ketosis with a random high quality carbohydrate day every 4-7 days will work better than staying in ketosis chronically.
“So, just tell me… what should I eat? What do you eat?”
Here’s a short list of basic food choices that I personally eat to drop me into ketosis (in no particular order):Eggs, bacon, sausage, extra sharp cheese (before you start yelling the “high cholesterol!” rhetoric that you have been programmed with, let me point out that the saturated fat —> high cholesterol —-> heart disease HYPOTHESIS is also complete nonsense- go do the research and find out for yourself*. I have some first-hand, personal experience with that hypothesis and I am here to say that it is mostly refined SUGAR that leads you to heart disease, NOT saturated fat), fresh mozzarella cheese, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, green beans (sparingly), butter, lettuce, olive oil, vinegar, pork loin, broiled fish, ground beef, steak, almond milk, almond butter, fresh blueberries (small amount!), Kefir, raw unsweetened cocoa powder, turkey, chicken, onions, garlic, and protein powder. These are just the foods that I find myself eating most often. And yes, there is SOME small amount of carbohydrates in a couple of these items, but you can figure out by trial and error what you can include and still achieve ketosis and get into that ideal fat burning state.
*Side Note – there is an excellent book out there that explains the relationship between cholesterol and heart disease quite well. Read The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease-and the Statin-Free Plan That Will
The Four (4) Root Causes of Heart Disease:
This blog post is NOT MEANT to be an all-inclusive article of the benefits and details of “ketogenic” dieting and you follow anything I said here at YOUR OWN RISK. I am not taking responsibility for someone out there who mis-applies this knowledge. Here are 3 books that can dramatically increase your understanding on the subject and help you decide if avoiding carbohydrates and achieving ketosis is for you: Underground Bodyopus: Militant Weight Loss & Recomposition, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, and The Bulletproof Diet: Lose up to a Pound a Day, Reclaim Energy and Focus, Upgrade Your Life.
Lastly, I am NOT saying that the ONLY way you can every lose bodyfat is by going zero carbs – I am just saying that it is the most efficient way to drop body fat while simultaneously maintaining lean body mass. At NEWT Systems, I seldom write zero carbohydrate eating programs. All diet and eating programs are tailored to the individual and most tend to include a more balanced ratio of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
However you choose to eat and diet, I wish you the best of luck.