Why I Don’t Trust Dietitians
I got into a conversation with a woman on the golf course the other day, and after finding out that I am a trainer, she started asking a few questions. She was 53, 5’3″, 154 lb. (I know, I was hoping she was going to be 153 lbs. as well), and showing signs of insulin resistance and pre-diabetes. She said she had been to see a dietitian, lost weight pretty quickly for about 6 weeks then it all stopped.
I said, “Let me guess, she had you on under 1300 calories per day, 60% carbohydrates, lots of whole grains, and doing 40-60 minutes of cardio 3-4x per week?”
“How’d you know?” she asked.
I am no dietitian, but I’ve heard this story over and over and over. The recommendations are as follows: starve yourself, eat the way Big Ag wants you to, and break your body down on a treadmill. Not quite a winning combination. We are going to tackle each of the health fallacies contained in the dietitians recommendations on their own: Calories, Carbohydrates, Cereals, and Cardio
Today, we cover Calories.
The old adage for losing weight is that “you must burn more calories than you take in.” Yeah. duh. That’s like saying you have to lose weight in order to lose weight. If the only goal is a lower number on the scale, let’s just amputate a leg and be done with it.
Can we agree that simply ‘weighing less’ should not be the only focus? Let’s think about what we REALLY want. What do you want?
You want to look better!
You want less fat, better looking arms, to feel better in a dress, to like yourself more. You want to BE BETTER. What you may not know is that eating right and exercising means better sleep, better mood, fewer and less intense mood swings, better digestions, better neurological function, better memory, better relationships, less depression (or “the glooms”), more energy, quicker healing, fewer colds, fewer aches and pains, more optimism, lowered risk of all kinds of diseases, and overall better quality of life.
Basically, there is no good reason not to eat good and exercise.
Just because there isn’t a good reason not to eat good, doesn’t mean life doesn’t ‘happen.’ Obviously, in a perfect world, we would all be able to have chiseled abs, but the world is somewhat less than perfect. Don’t beat yourself up about any bad choices made in the past or about bad choices you make in the future.
Can we just make a commitment to each other that over the next 24 hours, we will make one choice that is ‘better’ than we would have made before?
Getting Down to Business
If there is one think I want to get across in this article, it is that your body NEEDS calories to carry out its’ myriad functions. Remember that list of things above that will get better when you eat right and exercise? Yeah, all those things require calories to function properly.
Before we go any further I need to you understand that calories are not the enemy. We need calories, and lots of them, to function and perform the best our bodies can.
When Good Calories Go Bad
Human bodies are wildly successful at surviving. If they weren’t we wouldn’t be here. Millions of years of winning at evolution has brought us to this point, so keep that in mind as we move forward.
If you constantly starve yourself (think 300-500 or more calories less than your body wants) that survival mode will kick in, and your thyroid, which controls most metabolism, will figure it out and decided that if we’re going to be getting fewer calories, we need to use fewer calories!
If we’re trying to make our bodies better (and not just ‘less’), then this is bad news. So you may be eating all good calories, but if you’re not getting enough of them, it will start to have negative effects on your body. Basically, all the things your body does (like digesting foods, creating hormones, fixing damage, thinking, etc.) will be given fewer resources to carry out their jobs (1).
If we’re constantly starving ourselves, we may end up with less body, but we won’t necessarily have a better body.
Hormones Make Your Decisions For You
When you take in 1000 calories, the hormonal status of your body makes the decision about where those calories go, ‘who’ get’s them, and how they are used. So instead of just giving everyone fewer resources to work with, let’s make better decisions about how those resources are used.
Let’s use our calories to build muscle, digest food well, and fix damage, rather than using those calories to create fat stores.
To do this, you simply have to eat foods that have the correct effect on your hormonal status. Basically, eat a ‘Grain Free, Whole Foods diet’ (2). Eat real food (Not “Not Food”) and plenty of it. Let’s start thinking of Calories as a much needed fuel for our body’s activity and not like a necessary evil.
Before you go, answer me this in the comments: What is one decision you can make today that will be better than yesterday?