Why I don’t count calories (and am able to lose weight!!)

Over the years I’ve tried more than a handful of diets, lifestyle changes, and workout routines. My ultimate goal has always been to become as healthy as I possibly can, but fat loss was definitely an important factor in regards to the changes I made. One of the latest trends that has been sweeping the fitness community has been IIFYM, also known as If It Fits Your Macros. The one factor stemming from this lifestyle approach that I do appreciate is giving individuals the freedom to chose the foods that they like, and not restricting specific types of foods just because it won’t lead to their fitness goals. If you want some chocolate, have it, but just make sure it fits in your macros by the end of the day. For those of you that are not aware, “macros” stands for Macronutrients. The three macronutrients include: Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates. Although this one factor helps individuals who are overcoming eating disorders and other mental blockades, I believe there are far more negative implications with this lifestyle approach than there are positive.

Many individuals that I know who follow IIFYM plans ultimately reach their goal physique and are able to get into incredible shape. Kudos to them. However, our bodies work beyond much more than simple mathematics. There are strategic biological changes and mechanisms happening in the body that can be much more influential on our health than just ensuring we are meeting our macro and caloric intake for the day. Ask someone on an IIFYM plan if they have ever taken their hormones into consideration. 9 out of 10 times I’m most positive you will get a no. You might actually get a few questions related to what hormones even are. IIFYM is an interesting concept to many. You can learn the exact amount of macros your body needs to get the physique you desire, but have you ever considered what is happening internally to your body? How about the liver damage that your body might be going through due to the excessive carbohydrate and sugar intake? How about the blood sugar rises due to the pop tarts or 2 cups of oatmeal with honey you might be consuming, especially in the morning? If you take a dedicated individual and give them a new diet protocol to adhere to for 6 months+, you’ll more than likely find that the individual can lose weight by all of these methods. But how about sustainability? How about mental focus and clarity? Are they satisfied after they eat? Are they constantly thinking about food? Can they live a productive life without wasting valuable time on counting calorie, macro, and other dietary measurements? And most importantly, is this diet improving their health in means of short term and long term?

Like I said, many IIFYM users can get those short term goals and achieve the body they have always desired. But long term, their organs will slowly become weak, their bodies will become deficient in crucial vitamins and minerals, and realistically, there might not always be a scale available for use.

IMG_5992

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I wanted to transition the topic into calories. The topic you came here for and wanted to understand more about. Our bodies are incredibly smart and capable of doing so much. We were hardwired and designed to work in homeostasis. Your blood sugar rises, and your pancreas secretes insulin to lower the blood sugar. You get the flu, and body temperature increases (fever) so that the virus is in an uncomfortable state. Because the virus is in a weak state, your immune system can come in and attack it. Once the virus is eliminated, your fever goes down and your body temperature begins to normalize. These are all mechanisms of homeostasis. So why is it that our dietary intake versus body fat can’t work like this?

If we eat REAL high-quality food until we are completely satisfied (not stuffed) then our bodies should be able to work in a homeostatic manner and avoid weight gain. Well, the good thing is that this is true and it does work. The bad thing is that the majority of the population doesn’t eat real food. We don’t eat food that is satisfying to our tastebuds. We eat frankenfood that is full of chemicals, toxins, and ingredients that taste somewhat similar to food but isn’t actually food. These frankenfoods tend to be severely low in calories, because that’s what the population wants. We are afraid of calories and think it’s the evil “thing” that does wreak and havoc to our bodies. When in actuality, our bodies need and thrive off calories (from high-quality REAL food).

IMG_6004For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been following a ketogenic diet (High fats, moderate protein, and low carbohydrates). I’ll be sure to write a post soon in regards to this lifestyle switch with details related to its benefits, healing properties, and how to follow a ketogenic diet. But as of now, the focus is calories and how good they can be for our bodies. Simply stated, calories refer to energy. Yes, fats have many more calories than protein and carbohydrates per gram, but that also means that it provides our bodies with more energy than either of those options. Yes, diet coke has 0 calories and an avocado has 300+, but the energy obtained from the fruit is far superior to the coke, as well as the obvious nutrient density.

When you transition to eating a diet that is fulfilling and satisfying, you tend to not crave or be as hungry as often. When you eat high-quality REAL food, your body finds homeostasis naturally. Like I said earlier, I’ll be sure to discuss in detail about a ketogenic diet, but as for now just know that the majority of my calories come from good sources of fat; that means monounsaturated AND saturated fats. When you fill your plate with a large portion of dark greens cooked in grass-fed butter, fried eggs in ghee, nitrate-free high-quality bacon, and an organic avocado, you can’t help but be satisfied. These meals have high calories, which means it will give you energy to last for hours! You might not need to eat for 6-8 hours! (That’s another blog post on intermittent fasting) Ultimately, when you feed your body nourishing, satisfying foods, you tend to eat less throughout the day. So even though I’m eating a large amount of fat and calories within one meal, I might only need to get by on that one meal or maybe two throughout the entire day.

We need to refocus our mindsets on listening to our bodies. This type of approach is called intuitive eating. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. If you eat a nutrient dense meal that is full of healthy fats, and it gives you energy and satiety to last you 6+ hours without an additional meal, then go for it!

I don’t want to make this post too overwhelming so I’ll conclude by saying that by following this type of eating approach, I’ve not only improved my stress and mental health, but I’ve lost fat in the process! Yes, eating high-quality dietary fat can lead to body fat loss. If you’re interested in learning more or are curious about the ketogenic diet, write a comment below and I’ll be sure to follow up with you!

Lastly, I wanted to include a typical breakfast that I eat on a daily basis. I usually have bulletproof coffee in the morning after drinking a few large glasses of water. I’ll exercise, get work done, and then eat 4-5 hours after my coffee. So breakfast isn’t always in the morning, it’s just the easiest way to explain my first meal.

IMG_5990Ketogenic Breakfast

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups of broccoli (frozen)
  • 2-3 cups of spinach
  • 1 TBS+ grass-fed butter or ghee
  • 2 TBS water
  • 1 teaspoon himalayan sea salt
  • 3 pieces nitrate-free bacon
  • 2 organic eggs
  • feta cheese
  • avocado (optional)

Directions:

  1. Melt grass-fed butter in a large skillet. Add broccoli to the pan and let completely defrost.
  2. After 3-5 minutes, add spinach and water to the skillet. Let cook until spinach is completely wilted.
  3. Add sea salt to the vegetable mixture. (Research health benefits of salt!)
  4. In a separate pan, cook bacon until cooked to your desire.
  5. Pour out excess fat (keep it in if you want) and fry eggs in the remaining bacon fat. If you let the eggs cook on a medium temperature for long enough, the whites will cook and the yolk will remain runny WITHOUT having to flip the eggs.
  6. Place vegetable mixture on a plate with bacon. Top with feta cheese and avocado. Add an additional amount of salt to increase health benefits and flavor profile.
  7. Enjoy!
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