How you built an unhealthy relationship with food.
By Jamie Page
I will start this article by saying trying to lose weight sucks. Plain and simple, there is nothing peachy about it. It takes hard work and consistency. The more I learn about nutrition, the more “complicated” it can seem and you can lose sight of what really matters. So I understand the more you read about opposing diets, the more confused you will be about which path to take. If you do not take anything else from this article let it be this: Eat more whole foods than you eat processed foods and move more. This is the only path to real-feel-good-long-lasting-health. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is a liar.
As a coach, I meet a lot of people who have unhealthy relationships with food. They may not realize it, but this has been built over years of being told to “eat less and lose more”. There is a fear of “doing it wrong” or fear of not eating the “right” foods. For example, if you think eating “too much fruit” is a bad thing, you might have some confusion on what eating healthy really is. (You may have said, “Aren’t bananas super high in sugar?”) Fruits are plants. Plants are good for you. Eat the plant! Once you get in the habit of choosing more plants, then you can get technical about having “too much fruit” or whether or not you should cut back on banana consumption. Though, I love bananas and eat one pretty much every single day, and they are great for you.
There is no right or wrong way if you stick with the basics and real food.
In the Clean Kitchen 12 Week Challenge, we will teach you how to perfect the basics. We will help you break old school thinking and establish new habits.
Your body was designed to feel awesome. But, you lose weight by making yourself miserable. Then you just put the weight back on twice as fast. It is a vicious cycle that creates a very unhealthy relationship with food!
What is Weight Cycling (Yo-Yo Dieting)?
You might not realize this is what you are doing. You are cycling normal-to-high range calorie intake with time periods of very low-calorie intake. You may be wondering why this matters? Let me explain.
When it comes to losing weight, most people resort to crash diets, calorie restriction, or restriction of carbs and/or fat. At some point in your life you have most likely resorted to doing this. In other words, trying to starve your body in order to lose weight quickly. This could be why you cannot lose those last 10-pesky-pounds.
Which type of Weight Cycle-er are you?
The Loser/Gainer: This might be you if you go for a month or two calorie restricting until you reach your goal weight, then the following months slowly gain it back. The cycle repeats itself. Maybe you do shorter cycles, every 2-3 weeks are low calorie, followed by normal-high calories weeks in between.
The Tale of the Loser/Gainer:
The holidays are over. I have 3 months to get in shape before summer. This is my year. Today I have decided this will be the LAST time I have to discipline myself and make this weight come off for good.
Fast forward 2-3 weeks. Yesssss this weight is starting to come off. My Fitness Pal is logging under 1000 calories a day, whoop! All I have eaten are Special K bars and salads for lunch and dinner, sometimes I even skip dinner. This is how it is done. Everyone is complementing me on how great I look, but man I cannot WAIT until I can eat some good food again.
1 week later. I. AM. STARVING. And this weekend I am giving myself a cheat meal. I deserve this. I have been eating so good for a few weeks. Cheat meal Saturday….well all day. It’s only one day. Oopsiesss, Sunday too. Start back on Monday, back to snack bars and salads.
I can almost feel the the tension building in this one. So hungry and always thinking of what you “can’t eat” only makes you fantasize about meals even more.
The Weekend Binger: This might be you if you eat really low calorie Monday – Friday. Then for Friday night – Sunday Night it is a free-for-all. Anything goes. This is usually very active individuals as well. Do you go hard in the gym and still have belly fat? No matter how hard you workout, you can never out-work a bad diet. No matter how “good” you think you eat, your body will keep an accurate journal of what you are eating. You are not fooling me. And you shouldn’t try to fool yourself.
Tale of the Weekend Binger:
I workout 3-4 days a week and eat really good, but I am just not making any progress! I usually eat a little less during the week because we always have a “function” to go to and I know I will eat bad. I don’t really like breakfast, but I’ll drink coffee—no calories there, score! I’ll have a smoothie for lunch just to save on some calories and then a light super. By Friday it is drinks, dinner, and dessert because, let’s face it, I’m starving and I’ve been good all week! I deserve this! Saturday night I had a bucket of popcorn and diet soda at the movie theater. Then went to Sunday brunch and later pizza night at home; because “it’s Sunday” and I will start over on Monday.
Sound familiar to anyone????
You may be some other scenario in between, but the common denominator is eating very low calorie for a time period, followed by normal or higher calorie eating for a time period.
Afterwards, the weight creeps back on…again…so it’s back to snack bars and salads for another month.
The cycle continues with every passing, frustrating year.
Lose weight. Gain weight. Lose weight. Gain more weight.
4 Reasons why Yo-Yo Dieting doesn’t work:
Our bodies are too smart for us to outsmart it. Your body is constantly trying to reach homeostasis—to regulate its internal conditions, so as to maintain health and functioning, regardless of outside conditions. When food is scarce, your body will fight back to stay alive; and burning fat stores is not a high priority.
1: Caloric deficits can reduce the amount of energy we actually burn.
In the article by Dr. Brian St. Pierre, “Can eating too little damage your metabolism?” he sheds light on how your body burns energy in response to weight loss. In a nut-shell, if you try to starve it, you will only slow down your fat (energy) burning process—your metabolism slows. If you are starting out with a lot of weight to lose, yeah, you will lose weight cutting back calories. But as you get leaner and closer towards the “last 10 pounds” your body is saying, “hold up, I gotta survive, so I’m just gonna slow this down.” Your body will hold onto body fat in order for it to stay alive no matter how little you eat.
2: Under eating calories creates nutrient deficiencies.
It’s pretty simple to understand. The less real food you eat, the less nutrients you take in. This is why eating plants is SO important for overall health and lower body fat percentages. Low calorie eating (under 1000 cal per day) can cause nutrient deficiencies in micronutrients (salts, minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids) simply because you are not eating enough food. Without these, your body will not run properly, much less burn body fat like you want it to. For your body to go in “fat-burning mode” you must be running like a well-oiled machine. Your nutrition affects every single function in your body!!
3: You will gain fat faster.
Ever notice how fast you gain the weight back? Do you feel like it is even harder to lose the same amount again and again?
Well, this is because you have trained your body to store fat VERY efficiently. After under-eating, once you return to normal calorie (or even a binge eating weekend/cheat meals), your body will store and gain even faster than before. You have essentially trained your body to conserve energy (fat) because of the constant back and forth between low calorie and high calorie intake.
Once you have “hit your goal weight”our bodies do not adjust by storing less fats. Your body has adjusted to storing more fat when it becomes available. Your body’s primary goal is now to keep you functioning by conserving energy (fat), not burning it. Which means your body is in fat storing mode – aka survival mode.
In Dr. Brownell’s study (see below), in the first cycle, the animals took 21 days to lose a certain amount of weight, then 46 days to gain back the same amount lost. In the second cycle, it took the animals 46 days to lose the same amount of weight as the first cycle, and just 14 days after to gain it all back again! As you can see, weight cycling did have an affect on the way the animals burned energy. Humans can go through the same thing. See the full details of the study below by Dr Kelly D. Brownell for an example of how the lose/regain cycle works.
4: Starving does not make happy people.
It makes people hangry (hungry + angry).
The most logical reason of them all. It is just not maintainable. No one EVER sticks with super low-calorie eating. You will eventually go on a binge, while in “fat storage mode,” and be even more unhappy with yourself.
How do I get out of “fat storage mode?”
That is easy. Just eat normal. Eat real food. Don’t go for a week starving yourself so you can “save” calories for your vacation week. Don’t try to count calories; just use your hand portion sizes to help build your plate. Eat when you are hungry. If you are eating whole foods, you have to eat SO MUCH food to really go out of control in “calories.” We teach you how to do exactly this in the Clean Kitchen 12 Week Challenge.
Have you damaged your metabolism?
Nope! You just slowed it down for a bit. You can bounce back from all of the weight cycling by getting consistent again and be patient. Change takes time. Resetting your body takes some time. In the Clean Kitchen 12 Week Challenge, you will reset your body and mindset. We watch this happen through out the 12 weeks with our clients who stick to the basics, eat better, and move more.
Even myself included. Want to see what I eat? Check out my typical day of food!
There is no “big secret.” There is no magic diet or workout regime.
You just have to decide to start the path and stay on it for more than a year. You will make progress in that year, but each month gets better and better. Then one day you look up and see a completely different person. Another story of consistency from the Clean Kitchen 12 Week Challenge Client, Hope Gustafason, check out her journey here!
Consistency is the key to your success. You can be consistent in poor habits or good habits. Either way, you have earned the health you have today.
If you consistently weight cycle, you will never change. You will most likely gain a little more weight each time. This goes for anyone, even active individuals!
Consistently having treats and cheat meals each week, can either make your progress stall or gain weight.
Consistently not eating enough will turn your body into a fat storing machine.
There is only one factor that can change your body composition.
Consistency in good habits.
This means you do these Clean Kitchen 4 Big Habits, in some degree, every single day. These habits are the heart of our 12 Week Challenge. Learn to do these habitually, and watch your life and body change, and stay that way.
We understand most people are really bad at being consistent.
It is not that you do not want to, it’s just you need a little accountability. You need a little knowledge about what to do and why you are doing it. This is why we created the Clean Kitchen 12 Week Challenge. It is 12 weeks full of nutrition information and real life application to help you fit it into your schedule. You will get emails everyday , a coach to ask questions to, recipes that are easy and fast, and a very large group of like-minded people to help you through the rough spots on our private Facebook page!
Still need more convincing you can change? Check out our Client Success Stories!
The Effects of Repeated Cycles of Weight Loss and regain in Rats, Dr. Kelly D Brownwell
In the following study, though it is only possible to speculate about the results with animals to the effects of weight cycling on humans, it is something to consider. “An organism repeatedly deprived of food would increase the chance of survival by conserving energy during scarity and by converting food to body stores more efficiently when food is available. With repeated cycles, the organism might be expected to lose more slowly and regain more rapidly.”
In a study done by Dr Kelly D. Brownell, he studied the effects of repeated cycles of weight loss and regain in rats. The study included 3 groups of rats. Group A, Chow Control Group, the normal weight rats. Group B, Obese Control group, the heavier rats that kept the same eating habits though out the experiment. Group C, The Obese Cycling Group, who did the actual gain weight/lose weight cycles.
During this study, they attempted to mimic the human dieting experience. The Obese cycled animals were switched from the good tasting, high fat diet to bland but nutritious chow, and were given 50% what the normal weight animals were eating during the restriction cycle, until they reached the weight of Chow Control Group. During the re-feeding phase, the animals resumed their high fat diet until they regained their same weight as before.
In Restrictive Cycle 1 it took the Obese Cycle Group 21 days to lose weight to match the Chow Control group (normal weight animals).
In the Refeed Cycle 1 it took the group 46 days to regain their weight.
In Restrictive Cycle 2, it took the animals 46 days to lose the same amount of weight as lost in cycle 1.
In the Refeed Cycle 2, it took the animals only 14 days to regain their weight.
The Effects of Repeated Cycles of Weight Loss and Regain in Rats: Kelly D Brownwell, M.R.C Greenwood, Elliot Stellar, E. Eileen Shrager; Published 1986
Consequences of Weight Cycling: An Increase in Disease Risk? : Kelly Strohacker, Katie C Carpenter, and Brian K. MCFarlin. Published 2009
Can eating too little damage your metabolism? Exploring the truths and fallacies of metabolic damage; Dr. Brian St. Pierre, Precision Nutrition