Self-protection and the warning is clear that I have to make here to avoid some sarcastic haters remarks « again, not an exact science » and « this is basic information » and « blah blah blah ».
With that said, I first want to make a presentation and talk about variables.
Energy intake – This is the total number of calories you take in. Reminder, Calories are a unit of energy, not nutrition ;. they are used to power your body. Your energy and your energy consumption are both measured in calories and should be set aside rather than use it to determine your progress.
The types of foods – I use this term because I don’t know how to call the difference between the type of diet. So your typology could be Paleo or vegetarian or vegan or omnivore, etc. Essentially, it’s the basic catch-all term to describe your eating habits.
Macronutrients – also known as the composition of your individual food items. There are three macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Each of them are important and to help you in your diet, think « low fat » versus « low carb ».
Timing of meals – this variable is essentially to do with how often or when you eat your food; how many meals you eat per day (6 vs 3, for example), if you eat every 2-3 hours or do some type of fasting.
food combination – basically, eat foods with other foods (or avoid foods).
Now, it’s both the description of the individual components of dietary change and the order in which they must be handled.
“Weight loss comes down to the balance of energy – if you burn more than you eat, you lose weight and it doesn’t matter what you eat”.
I mean, yeah, sure. it deserves.
Energy balance is important; and if we have learned anything from the “Twinkie Diet” a few years back is that if you keep your calories low enough, you will lose weight. Even if you eat Twinkies.
The thing is that it’s possible to lose “weight” based on foods with a low-calorie, regardless of the food you eat. But this is not a sustainable method.
Moreover, even with low-calorie, the foods you eat will work. Eating 1000 calories of Twinkies will have a different effect on your metabolism and also the hormonal response than eating 1000 calories of steak.
Finally, it’s impossible to have 100% progress that you want if you just reduce calories. You will lose weight, but you probably will not seem to go very well. So what’s the point?
“Nutrition is more than energy in/energy out ! “
Yes of course. However, unless you have a metabolic disorder, it’s still the most important factor. Even if you bring changes to the food you eat.
« If you do a Paleo diet, vegetarian, etc., you don’t need to worry about calories»
Your food type is very important. But maybe not for the reason you think.
I will not make any argument on the Paleo diet (because I think it’s cool), but because I know many people who use it, I use it as my basic example.
And it’s not because the Paleo diet is cool it’s the only system to diet for health or fat loss.
First, you can’t change for Paleo easily because it implies for most people to eliminate 90% of what they are “allowed” to eat before the change. This is a complete overhaul of food habits.
Second, when someone makes a food system change which is very restrictive, they will eat less than before. There are many reasons for this, the most obvious is that there is less food allowed to eat, you don’t not eat as much food. In fact, it has been shown that when people have less food options, they eat less and vice versa.
We must recognize the fact that these diets tend to help people auto-regulate in term of their calorie intake. Once you eliminate processed foods, it’s much more difficult to eat 3500 calories that you took before.
Paleo foods, for example, fill you; if you already had a “bad” food day on a normal diet, you may have taken 4,000 calories. Try to eat 4000 calories of Paleo food is much more difficult; meat and vegetables certainly don’tmake for easy eating.
This is not to say that a point of view isocaloric the Paleo (for example) is better than eating Twinkies; as I’ve covered, this is not the case. Your hormonal and metabolic reaction with these foods will be better and you willhave better health. Period.
“Oh, if you agree, Paleo is the solution?”
Listen carefully, it’s not what I said. Look, it’s not rocket science to understand that the chances for most people following an organic diet without processed foods are best. But you can’t just put a label and say that energy intake is the important thing.
This is the thing that bothers me about the most dogmatic people in the Paleo community. They refuse to recognize that a superior food dietary doesn’t completely cancels the laws of thermodynamics. HAAAA !.
This is not a rant, but tell someone to not have to worry about calories in diet is wrong -it’s insane. This means that if you eat 8000 calories and that you only need to eat 2000, you’ll going to gain weight.
Of course, you’ll probably gain less weight by eating 8000 cals steak and vegetables than if you do it with 8000 calories of cakes. But a huge caloric excess will further lead to changes in body composition.
To quote the philosopher Darth Vader, « Search your feelings, you know it’s true ».
Sorry. It wasn’t science, I got a little…. Moving on.
“Mom said that calories are the devil, Colonel Sanders!
We just have to eliminate them and you will be fine. “
Macronutrients manipulating is a very powerful piece of the puzzle; but it isn’t the only thing you have to look. If you drop carbs, you will lose weight for a while. Especially if you have a lot of fat to lose. But without other adjustments, you’ll stall rather quickly.
Again, you have to worry of global energy consumption. You tend to eat less on low-carb diets. Or eating more carbohydrates make you likely to eat more, as they are less filling, lead to faster gastric emptying times, and aer extra delicious.
Of course, the elimination of carbohydrates has a ton of hormonal benefits, which is one reason that I highly recommend, especially in the initial phases of most diets. However, I am not suggesting that this is the only step you should take or even the most important step on the road to have a better body is deceptive.
« Oh, just trying intermittent fasting and don’t worry about anything else ».
I like fasting. I am really and truly. I’ll be the first to admit that tends to help people lose weight because it helps regulate energy intake.
For starters, it’s harder to overeat if you have reserved time during which you don’t eat at all. In addition, fasting helps in terms of appetite control … which also helps to eat less. Etc.
Of course, fasting works for other reasons like hormonal benefits which I will discuss in another article.
This means that you can’t “just try IF” and not you worry about other things to adjust.
As you can see with my arguments, I think all those things are important. For some people, change these things will lead to results; in fact, for some people, change one thing will lead to better results without forgetting to adjust two or three variables. At least in the short term.
However, in the absolute idea, no ONE KEY you can change that gives consistent results over time, at least not if you want to go beyond your old results.
And therefore, all the variables I mentioned are all important to some degree, as I alluded to, some are a little more important than others. Or at least, will serve as greater leverage points.
So to represent things mathematically, I’ve done this:
The priorities of Dieting Stephane Version:
Energy intake – 33-43%
Food Type – 25-35%
Macronutrients – 20%
Timing of meals – 10%
Combination of food – 2%
As you could see, out of respect for those who want to criticize, I have left you for a range of effects for the first two because I think it varies from person to person. But it’s damn accurate.
If you want to maximize results in the absolute, concentrate on the changes in these variables, in THAT order. Period.
Remind yourself that when you need to diet, it isn’t just what you change – this is the order that you make the changes in.
Now go and tell everyone you know because my friend, knowing is half the battle.