While traveling around the world, stop by in Singapore, living in Malaysia, spending some time in Italy, moving to Moscow, at the same time learning about food cultures, food systems, tasting cool and new foods, working with my clients, answering your questions and comments, creating content, talking to people about food and nutrition almost every day — these questions kept bubbling up to the surface. And exactly these things, these beliefs, that lead to actions, exactly these stop many of you guys from getting the progress you seek — more energy, more health, better performance that fuel more exciting and joyous life, less fat.
Let’s discuss them!
Weight loss as a system approach.
You have this body. It’s a complex and open system. Not a bomb calorimeter (The machine, that counts calories, when you burn stuff in it).
Your body consists of many organs and systems, that influence one another — cardio-vascular system, nervous system, endocrine system etc., you have different organs, glands, that secrete hormones. When we influence one system, digestive system, for example, by eating or not eating, by eating certain things — the results will influence many other systems, basically every cell, every tissue, every organ and every system in your body. When you do something, that affects primarily your cardio-vascular system, let’s say you exercise — you affect all the other systems as well — digestive system, endocrine (hormonal) system, nervous system, lymphatic system etc. And to complicate things even further — it’s an open system. Our environment affects our body in millions of ways, a lot of which we are not even aware of and can’t measure.
To illustrate the case, let’s take sleep as an example.
It’s proven by studies, that people eat on average 300 calories more, when they don’t get enough sleep (6 hours or less, or poor quality sleep). And we indulge not just in any food, but usually in highly processed foods, that deliver the most calories per second. On top of that, people, after one night of poor sleep are less insulin sensitive with poorer blood sugar response, inflammation levels go up too — that results in more calories deposited in your fat tissue. And yes, someone might say, “But that’s because they ate more crap!” That’s true. But the cause was the lack of sleep, not increased-for-no-reason hunger. One seemingly unrelated to calories activity, sleep, affected many systems, your hunger and fat metabolism were affected as the result — and you got fatter. Not because you couldn’t count calories well enough, and you are a willpower-less pig, but because you didn’t manage to put yourself to bed at appropriate time. The rest is the cascade of consequences, which over a period of time, repeated, results in a significant accumulation of fat mass in all the wrong places. Like your belly.
Trying to lose weight by only counting calories is like trying to win a marathon by telling yourself to run at a 4.48 minutes/mile pace. Great in theory. Doesn’t work in practice — you have YOU (the rest of you besides the telling-you-to-run-faster brain) and the environment as a part of this winning equation.
Nutrients are not created equal.
From fat loss to health.
A lot of you can’t successfully lose fat and maintain that fat loss progress, because you compromise your health in the process, by not taking care of your lifestyle and of the nutrition requirements, that our bodies have, requirements for amino acids, for fatty acids for certain vitamins and minerals.
It’s like trying to build a beautiful table, building a gorgeous table top, leaving no wood for legs to support it.
Many of you guys neglect MICROnutrients requirements, vitamins and minerals, thinking it’s unimportant, or it’ll take care of itself as long as you eat enough.
Both beliefs are false.
Vitamins, minerals — they are called MICROnutrients for one reason and one reason only — you need them in smaller amounts by weight, compared to macronutrients. But just like a tiny drop of cyanide might kill you instantly — the amount of a substance tells you nothing about the HUGE potential effect these MICROnutrients have on your health. You might easily cut 10–30 years of your productive life (or life completely) by not getting these vital for life micronutrients on a regular basis.
And no, just by eating enough calories, you won’t get everything you need — according to statistics, 80–90% of people are deficient in key nutrients, and well, obesity and degenerative diseases epidemic, for sure, partially can be attributed to that. Our food supply, our food system are not designed to help you get these nutrients. It’s not that we don’t have the capacity — we just choose to produce a bunch of crap for profits and sustainability — that confuses people into thinking we are eating plenty of nutrients! And we do, just not the ones we actually need to thrive as a species.
When you don’t get these MICROnutrients on a regular basis (supplement won’t save you), your body breaks down one cell, one tissue, one organ, one system at a time, and then healthy weight maintenance goes south for many reasons, that are often quite difficult to track to their original source and cause.
Different strokes for different folks.
And now from nutrition to diets and your favorite foods, your favorite macros — personalized nutrition.
If you take care of all of the healthy lifestyle factors (fat loss pyramid), of your nutrition needs, and you are not on a journey to six pack abs (if you are — keep reading too) and fitness modeling, if you eat mostly whole unprocessed foods cooked in a healthy way, most of your fat loss goals, health goals will melt away like an Italian gelato under hot August sun.
But we are all slightly different, aren’t we? Genes, environment, age, gender, activity levels, gut microbiome, health history.
And so certain macros (the amount of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in one’s diet), certain foods, certain food combinations, certain eating patterns work better for each of us.
I do my best on 1–2 meals a day, a lowcarb, moderate fat and protein diet (with specific foods), I don’t do well with a lot of carbs in my diet. I do awful with grains and dairy in my diet. Some people do best with more carbs and less fats (A fat-free and a very low fat diets are not an option, because certain amount of fat and certain fatty acids are essential for human health). The amount of protein usually varies, depending on your activity level and your age, your gender, not so much from person to person of the same gender and age, same activity levels.
Here is my a quick visual helper for you to figure out, what macronutrient ratio might work for you the best.
It’s a good place to start.
If your metabolism is “broken” in some way — high blood glucose and/or insulin, high blood pressure, high inflammation levels, high triglycerides etc. If your gut health is not great and you have lots of digestive issues and/or food allergies, food sensitivities — you’ll need to experiment with different diets and foods to fix it all, to find what works best for you now to restore your health and end health and weight struggle.
Besides that, based on all my research, my coaching experience — most people will benefit, feel and look much better by eliminating all grains and dairy, conventionally raised animal foods and conventionally grown plant foods (hormones, antibiotics, pesticides etc.). Try it. See for yourself.
Please leave your comments, if you have questions, if something was unclear, if you’d like more specifics applied to you, to solve your problem. My purpose for writing is to share my personal research and professional experience and to help you guys!
Share this with at least one person, if you found it helpful. It will help others!
Next week stay tuned for “3-level Nutrition” blog.
Eliminate toxic foods. Eat adequate-for-humans diet. Personalize to maximize health, longevity and performance.