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“I Don’t Know How to Lose Weight” Part One

March 5, 2009

Calorie Restriction and Clean Eating

As for the title of this post, not knowing how, was on the radio this am. The radio people were saying how no one in this world with internet access should be unable to determine how to lose weight.

I dispute their claim! There is a TON of info on how to lose weight. The problem will ALL this info is that it all differs! Eat only potatoes. Eat no potatoes. Eat low carbs. Eat low fat. Eat low calories. Eat high calories. Eat fat. Wait, dont’ eat fat. Wait, eat fat. Then for some insane reason our culture puts more emphasis on exercise than eating right. So people are inclined to think that if they exercise they don’t have to worry so much about what they put into their mouth. It’s our governments fault really. The whole nutrition pyramid really killed the way people think about nutrition. And no one who goes by the pyramid would have increased difficuclty losing weight. Our government decided to push the low fat craze. Completely the wrong course of action. So, even when people eat what our government recommends, they gain weight. Who wouldn’t with all those processed grains and cereals and breads as the base? It doesn’t even matter that our government has finally “killed” the pyramid because most people my age and older are not aware of that. They still think breads, pasta’s, and cereals should be the main source of food. After that was drilled into our heads for 30+ years by our government, via the school systems and advertising, of course people my age and older will think that.

Not to say there are some obvious things people shouldn’t eat. Fried foods for one. Not eating an entire appetizer of breaded deep fried mozzarella sticks or cheese curds, onion rings, and the deep fried mushrooms… those things are NOT meant to be eaten. There is little nutritional value in those things.

So, how do you loose weight? Should you eat less than 1200 calories a day on average? Hell no. Well, at least I’m not planning on doing that. If the basis of a persons diet are foods with high nutritional content then a person can’t go wrong eating it. Things with high nutritional content would be things like leaf lettuce, spinach, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Meats as well, but since I’m not a big fan of meat, I’ll keep my diet based on plant products. Things with low nutritional content are those processed breads, pasta’s, and cereals. Fortified doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Really, it doesn’t.

There are calorie counters on the internet that will tell you how many calories you should eat on average. Those calorie calculators are, as far as I know, fairly accurate if you put in accurate information. The problem with those calculators is not the calculator, but the means which it is applied. If a calorie calculator said I could have 2000 calories a day, if I ate lunch at McDonalds, say a combo with large fries and large coke, I could easily use up nearly all if not more than my 2000 calories. That would mean I couldn’t eat the WHOLE REST OF THE DAY!!!! That’s just crazy! So, if a person is using those calculators to see how much they can get away with, well it’s just plain not going to last. I would fall off any calorie restriction if I ate the majority of my calories before my day was even halfway over. I’d starve the whole rest of the day and not feel very satisfied. How can a person stay on a calorie restrictive diet if they’re not feeling they’re eating enough?

For calorie calculators to work, a person needs to eat calories from foods with higher nutrient contents. These foods are also typically less caloric. A big salad with chicken or steak on it is great. Pineapple for dessert is just plain awesome. I can eat practically a whole pineapple for 300 calories. I could eat a chocolate cake covered with chocolate syrup for 1500 calories. But with the chocolate cake, I better hope I didn’t eat nearly anything the rest of the day.

The best way to know if you’re food is good or bad is to follow the three degree’s of clean eating. If it is one degree then it is in it’s natural state (fruits, veggies, nuts, meat). If it’s in degree two then it’s a step away from it’s natural state though I exclude juice because the actual fruit is so much better. Besides, if it’s processed juice, it’s more than one step away. Processing is a multiple step mangling of our foods. I can’t think of anything today that I ate in degree two. Degree three is two steps away from natural. Maybe milk would be degree two and cheese would be degree three. 70-80 percent of calories should come from degree one. 20-30 percent from degree’s two and three. Anything that does not fit in those categories is just plain garbage. Do you really want to feed yourself, your families- particularly your kids- garbage? I sure dont. Lou Schuller states you should follow the three degree’s of clean eating 90% of the time as a general guideline and save the extra 10% for the “garbage”. Refined carbs are garbage and I can’t imagine eating life without never ever ever having at least one more sugar packet or frosting directly from the mixing bowl… Some people couldn’t imagine life without that refined pasta on occasion. Just make sure the garbage is less than 10%

As for me, I don’t count calories. My weight is slowly, ever so slowly declining. My lean body mass is ever so slowly increasing. My bodyfat percent is decreasing at an acceptable pace. My diet is not yet 90% clean but I mean to get there by the end of this year. Babysteps people, babysteps. I’m not one to be able to make this sort of lifestyle change all at once. I need those small successes to build on so when I do have those small failures they wont seem so big. If anyone want’s to know the sequence of me cleaning up my diet, I’d be happy to email it to you. Just leave a comment with a valid email (not published but I do see your email addy) and I’ll get it to you.

In summary, to stick to a calorie restrictive diet a person MUST eat healthier. It also isn’t a “diet” in the typical sense. It is a lifestyle change.

Enjoy that salad!

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Riayn permalink
    March 5, 2009 9:27 PM

    I like the three degrees of clean eating. Like you I am trying to eat mainly vegies, some fruit, some protein (lean meats, tofu, chickpeas etc) and a little dairy (cause I can’t give up my cheese and my morning glass of milk). I gave up counting calories because it just took all the joy out of eating and made me obsess over it. This way feels much better and I am feeling healthier for it.

    • March 5, 2009 9:32 PM

      I’m working on those darn three degrees! I’ll get there soon :). I love cheese and ice cream but hate milk and yogurt. I do plan to give up dairy by the end of the year though :). Counting calories for me never lasts either. I can for maybe a week… then… I’m off the wagon again!

  2. RobFitness permalink
    March 6, 2009 1:01 PM

    Counting calories just takes to much energy. It’s energy I could use to workout more and just concentrate on my eating. For me just eating healthy and all things in moderation, plus some good workouts is what works for me. Each one of us are different in so many ways and what works for me, might not work for you. We each have to work on what works for us and stop paying attention to all the bad information and fads that are out there.

    • March 6, 2009 7:32 PM

      Rob, very true, calorie counting is way to energy intensive! Who has the time to do all that? Certainly not I :). I take it you didn’t try the banana diet then? hehe

  3. Chris Brown permalink
    March 6, 2009 4:00 PM

    All very good points! I think many times, people starting to lose weight set themselves up for failure by trying every single step for weight loss (counting calories + eat more veggies + cut out fat + cut otu starchy carbs + go running for 2 hours evry single day of the week, etc)

    Also its a great point you make about the government, which I think definitely can include celebs (eg Oprah)…just a huge mis-aplication of research by those with the most influence over society.

    • March 6, 2009 7:35 PM

      You’re right, people in power via media also do push some really awful ideas. It sucks that these people are able to sway the thoughts of the general public so much. No TV is definitely the better way to go. Besides, that leaves more time for working out ;). I was recently reading a study on cholesterol- I think the study was linked in one of Mark’s posts (marks daily apple). It basically stated the link between fat consumption and cholesterol is not as “clear cut” as the medical field makes it out to be. Just a research study gone awry.

  4. March 6, 2009 4:08 PM

    Really interesting blog thanks.

    • March 6, 2009 7:37 PM

      Tom, thanks for the comment. I’m leaving it up even though I susupect it’s spam. The reason I’m leaving it is because your link (to acia berry) is a prime example of how people jump on some food or idea as the “magic cure” for weight loss. There is no magic cure- though the closest thing might be a primal diet and lifestyle. It’s those types of sites that confuse people leading to the confusion of which way is the right way. Those claims of 20 lbs lost sound really great. But I could get the same results eating nothing but brocolli. And the brocolli is probably more nutritional than the acia berry diet.

  5. March 7, 2009 1:00 PM

    I like your blog. I have probably heard about fad diets like Atkins, South Beach or the Cabbage Soup diet. Many of these diets can’t be sustained without endangering your health. Keep it up.


  6. jleeger permalink
    March 8, 2009 10:43 PM

    Great summary Michelle! It’s funny, because your title sums up the two words of wisdom on diet that Paul Chek and Juan Carlos Santana had to offer at a training conference I went to back in 2001.

    JC said “I want to sum up diet – eat more, gain weight; eat less, lose weight.” and Chek said “If it doesn’t come out of the ground, or eat something that came out of the ground, don’t eat it.”

    I think diet is so simple – eat foods as close to their raw form as you can get them, and eat a little of everything.

  7. ladlam permalink
    March 9, 2009 9:28 PM

    Michelle, you’re almost sounding paleo there 😉
    jleeger, you ARE sounding paleo there. Do you have a blog by the way?

    • March 10, 2009 5:30 PM

      I just read the book the Paleo Diet last night. I think it’s safe to say that the Paleo Diet and Clean Eating are one and the same. Josh does have a blog (Josh as in jleeger, not my hubby). It’s the bottom link in fitness blogs, The LIFT blog :).

      • ladlam permalink
        March 10, 2009 6:15 PM

        They certainly sound similar enough to lump them in to the same category, along with the ‘primal’ diet…
        Thanks for the link, looks like some good reading!

        • March 10, 2009 6:44 PM

          They all are pretty much the same. Clean eating, depending on the author, allows some processed foods (like juices). But I’m really a huge advocate for not drinking calories when it is soooo much tastier to eat that number of calories so I rarely drink juice. When coming down with a cold, I go for a chunk of pineapple which has more vitamin C than organes anyway.

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