The Truth About Diet Restriction and Weight Loss: This concept is pretty simple, that when it comes to health, the truth usually lies 180 degrees (i.e. the complete opposite) to that our “protective” governing bodies are preaching. Whether it be sun safety, exercise, or diet- the things we’re being told by “experts” are usually the exact opposite of what your body needs to thrive.
The Truth About Diet Restriction and Weight Loss
Seeing the change in the recommendations made by these experts is slow for two main reasons. First of all, the government is a big ship: it takes a long time to turn. Standard operating procedures put in place to help speed things up in our day to day lives are difficult to undo. Think of it like learning to tie your shoes: once you know how to do it, your brain doesn’t even think twice. But if you’re told 10, 20, or 30 years into tying your shoes that you need to do it another way- the brain has a lot of resistance in implementing change. For this new method to be implemented, it doesn’t happen overnight.
The second problem is that our modern economy is built around a low-fat, high-sugar model. The government subsidizes things like wheat and sugar. In fact, the sugar industry falsified the major study that demonized fat in favor of a high-carbohydrate (high sugar) diet. So, we’re being lied to, these lies are perpetuated by large conglomerate companies and the media, and all of that within a system that is already slow to implement change.
“All the media, the other radio shows, and a lot of the things you’re going to find online are going to contradict what I say here. In the media, they’ll release things so that we’re manipulated by it.”
Today we are exploring the concept of calories, macronutrients (the low-fat lie), and the missing key to weight loss: controlling your insulin.
Diet Restriction and Weight Loss: Calorie Restriction Is A Paradox to Weight loss
The major concepts behind losing weight being preached by the experts (be it the government, the media, or your average personal trainer) are to eat less and exercise more. We recently explored why exercising more is, in fact, detrimental for healthy hormones (and sustainable weight loss), and indeed: calorie restriction is just as useless, if not harmful.
It’s often difficult for the average person to grasp that we’re being lied to when it comes to health and longevity because we’re being hit from every angle with these lies. The concept that reducing calories seems to make sense (fewer calories = less weight gain), and even when the science begins to show that the opposite is true, people just can’t make sense of it.
Diet Restriction and Weight Loss: Counterintuitive Truth
Concepts like low-calorie and low-fat diets seem to make sense on the surface, especially because they reap short term success. Cutting calories, or fat, in the short run, will create a deficit and generally result in a rather rapid weight loss. When it fails long term, we tend to blame ourselves. The weight-loss culture blames our lazy or gluttonous nature. that we’re not exercising hard enough or that we’re eating too much, but as you’re about to learn this is all false. The solution to sustained weight loss is rooted in healthy hormones. In fact, restricting your calories while over exercising is a recipe for destroying your hormones, and thus gaining weight.
Diet Restriction and Weight Loss: The Biggest Loser
Most people have seen The Biggest Loser TV show, or at least know of it. The concept here is exactly what is being preached by the mainstream: lose weight by exercising more and eating less. The contestants are taken through vigorous exercise (upwards of 3 hours per day), and progressively restricting calories more and more as weeks go by.
A study was done on 14 contestants of the show, who after 30 weeks of filming, dropped an average weight of 127 pounds each. This is an incredible weight loss feat, and on top of it all, their body fat dropped from 49% to 28%… so they were mostly losing body fat, not muscle! This is genuinely incredible, but the study ran for six years following the show, and 13 out of 14 had regained their weight. This 93% failure rate is rooted in the flawed concept of the show; the means by which these contestants lost their weight essentially set them up for failure from the very start.
The contestant’s caloric intake was decreased by 70% from baseline, so they were being given 1200 to 1500 calories per day. Alongside caloric restriction, they were being exercised vigorously with personal trainers’ multiple hours a day, six days a week. Initially, of course, there is an incredible success, until the contestant’s weight begins to plateau. At that point, their workouts get harder, and their caloric intake drops below 1000. The calories-in continues to drop down between 500-800 calories a day, which for a human being is simply not sustainable as a daily limit.
By incessantly reducing calories, the metabolism starts to slow down.
The body is incredibly smart: if the calories being introduced drop continuously, the body preserves the fuel- and thus the metabolism slows. There is a hormonal shift because the body wants to survive. Since it doesn’t want to eat itself and starve to death, it will continue to slow down the metabolism. The more you lower the caloric intake, the slower the metabolism gets.
Cutting Calories is Not the Answer
If we look at one of the earlier studies on caloric restriction (of 1959), we see a very similar statistic to that of The Biggest Loser study. This study from the late ’50s showed a 98% failure to maintain weight loss. Only 2% of the dieters using caloric restriction were able to maintain the 22-pound weight loss that they gained for the two years following the loss. A more recent study done in the UK in 2015 demonstrates a 99.2% failure rate (0.8% success in women, and 0.4% success in men).
Possibly the best study out there when it comes to debunking low-calorie diets was run by The Women’s Health Institute and was a randomized control trial involving 50,000 women, over seven and a half years. This is no small sample like that of The Biggest Loser, and even more, interestingly, had a control group. So, part of the women had to drop their caloric intake by 15% (with a focus on reducing fat intake) as well as increase their exercise by 14%, whilst this other group of women changed nothing.
The end of this nearly eight-year study bares fascinating results: the low calorie/ high exercise group has only lost on average two pounds compared to the control group. Even more interesting, is that this same group actually gained physical size around their waist (on average from a 35 to a 35 ½). They gained a half inch around their waist eating less and exercising more.
Diet Restriction and Weight Loss: The Truth
We can see clearly that in the short run (especially that first month), lower calories and more exercise does result in weight loss, but the problem is the unsustainable nature of the loss. In continuing with this model, the calories have to incessantly be reduced to maintain weight loss, to the point of doing serious damage to the metabolism and the hormones. The body goes into starvation mode, and not only slows the metabolism but also clings to every ounce of fat on the body because it fears a never-ending famine. An extended period of famine followed by a large refeed (which often happens when someone is deprived of nutrition over a long time) will be stored as fat immediately by the body, who again is trying to preserve its own life.
The body thinks, let’s store this stuff because we got to—we’re scared. We might not survive.
Calorie restriction does not work in the long term. You might be able to do it once or twice and get away with it, but if you keep doing it over and over again: you’re damaging your hormones and your metabolism. We’ve had so many people come to us that have destroyed their hormones and can’t lose weight, and it’s sad to know they were trying to do the right thing.
All Calories Are Not the Same
Another major lie being perpetuated by the “calorie reduction” mentality is the belief that all calories are the same (i.e. that all carbohydrates are the same as all fats). And this is absolutely false because of the introduction of different macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) trigger completely different hormonal response in the body.
The important one here for us when it comes to weight loss is carbohydrates because they create the largest insulin response. You may recognize insulin as the hormone related to diabetes, and indeed it is, but everyone should be aware of the function of insulin on the body- because it is a key factor in generating vibrant health and longevity.
Carbs are really the major offender when it comes to maintaining balanced blood sugar. In his book Wheat Belly, Bill Davis explains that two pieces of whole wheat bread spike your blood sugar as much as drinking a 12-ounce soda. That could be your morning bagel or your bowl of oatmeal… it’s shocking for most people, but it’s true.
Remember though: anytime we eat anything, the insulin response is created. The body releases insulin into the blood to control blood sugar levels, to keep us alive. When we introduce higher glycemic foods (generally, carbs; especially refined ones) the body has to secrete more insulin, which has been associated with many ailments and disease.
Insulin is a fat-storing hormone: when insulin is up, your body is storing fat.
When we’re starving ourselves down with calorie restriction, our glycogen is low, and the problem arises when our insulin remains high. Our metabolism is slowing down so our body doesn’t die, and yet we’re introducing insulin spiking sugars into the body, which wreaks havoc on our hunger levels, and our hormones. The hormones are screaming out for nutrition, which is a survival mechanism, and this trigger craving and often binge eating behavior. Our body then stores body fat, and so despite eating less, we start to gain more.
None of it’s your fault. It’s a hormonal adaptation.
The Solution: Don’t Eat Less, Eat Less Often
The solution here is definitely 180 degrees from what we’ve been told by the mainstream: don’t eat less, eat less often. If we eat until full (and replenishing our glycogen stores), we are constantly reminding our body that it is not starving, that there is an abundance of food within reach. When we drastically reduce calories, our body is always under this stressed hormone starvation mode. It’s adapting to starvation. We want you to adapt to the opposite, to fuel your hormones with an abundance of food every time you do eat, and simply eat less often.
On average that the average American eats at least 6 meals a day, but up to 21 meals… per day! This might seem shocking, but a meal is considered anytime you secrete insulin, which means anytime you consume anything other than plain water. That handful of almonds when you walked through the kitchen, the kombucha you had between meals. Anytime you consume anything, you’ve had a meal. This non-stop consumption of food (and release of insulin) sets the body on a hormonal roller coaster all day long and prevents it from burning the fat it has stored up as energy.
One of the first things we have to do with the average person gets them to stop eating snacks and just simply go to a true three meals a day.
After cutting back to only three meals a day, we scale it back even more: two, maybe even one meal a day. This is the ancestral way of eating and naturally supports happy and healthy hormones. The hormonal shift won’t happen overnight: it’s going to take time, but surely you will become fat adapted, and your body will turn into a fat burning machine.
It’s important to remember that we haven’t adapted yet from our hunter-gatherer past. We still have that same genetics that our ancestors had, as they naturally ate with periods of feasting and periods of fasting. By eating the way we do today (non-stop) we are triggering the expression of bad genes and manifesting all these modern-day diseases that people living ancestrally do not get.
The Bottom Line: If you give your body time to burn its own fuel sources, it will.
Maintaining balanced blood sugar and insulin also down-regulates inflammation and minimizes oxidative stress, which essentially slows down the aging process.
When we look at animal studies, the key to life extension and anti-aging is indeed eating less in total but do so by eating less often. When we eat less often, we end up naturally eating less than the average person, but by not simply restricting calories. As the body becomes a fat-burning machine, we naturally consume less food because the metabolism is firing, and the body knows there’s an abundance of food around the corner. No ancient cultures ever denied themselves of food; when the body is provided with real, healthy, unrefined foods- it will naturally eat to satiety.
When you eat until you’re full, the body knows there is plenty, and therefore it efficiently keeps burning its fat. That’s key. The moment it thinks that there’s not a lot coming, it slows down fat metabolism.
Burn Your Firewood, Burn Your Body Fat
A great example to understand this concept is thinking of firewood, and a burning fire. You’re out in the snowy mountains, totally snowed in, and lighting a fire is your only option for heat. Your woodpile is running low. You’re going to burn a smaller fire to try and preserve your heat for as long as possible. Your body does the same with conserving its fat stores.
Now if your friend calls you and says, “I’ve got a truck full of wood for you,” you can be sure that you will start burning more wood, and making bigger fires. When you know you’re no longer running out of wood (or food), you can start increasing the fire (or rev your metabolism). Unfortunately, simply knowing there’s an abundance of food within reach is not enough. The body’s hormonal system learns by experience, and so if you starve it, it will burn at a slower rate.
Don’t eat less, eat less often.
Break Free from Being Controlled by Your Hormones
The low-calorie trap makes you a slave to your hunger. As you go into starvation mode, your hormones take over and your cravings and hunger become literally uncontrollable. People often have trouble sustaining their diets because of this reason, and as we have explored: having a slip up when you’ve been restricting calories for long periods of time can cause some serious damage to your hormones and your waistline.
By reducing your calories dramatically over a long period of time, you are training your body to react this way. You’ve trained your body in a way it wasn’t designed, and it’s adapting well: it’s a brilliant body. The answer is to re-train your body to operate in the way it is meant to, by teaching it that it is not starving.
The Secret: Controlling Insulin
The key is really controlling your body’s insulin, which is the hormone we discussed earlier.
When we continuously raise insulin all day long, we’re stuck in a fat-storing mode and shut off fat burning. When we caloric restricts, we burn our stored glucose down, our glycogen. When it gets lowered and it never gets replenished: our body goes into the starvation mode. That’s where the big meal replenishes glycogen stores. Then the body will start to say I can burn fat. I call this process of hormone optimization. If we optimize our hormones, we’ll become efficient fat burners, and this creates metabolic flexibility. I’m in my 50s, and I’m leaner now than I was even in my 20s. That is hormone optimization.
To promote longevity, slow down aging, feel leaner and healthier than ever before (no matter your age): Don’t eat less, eat less often!
When it comes to losing weight, fasting is one of the BEST strategies.
And not just because you’re avoiding food or reducing calories; it’s also because of the deeper detoxification and metabolic shifts made while you fast.
The biggest problem most people have with fasting? Confusion.
So many experts out there are saying different things. Fast with water. Fast on juice. Do a “Paleo fast” with bone broth. Fast for three days. Five days. Seven days. Intermittent fasting. Fasting mimicking diets. Who knows what the truth is?
And what’s the truth for YOU? How can you figure out the best approach to fasting to give you the results you want?
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Listen more about diet restriction here: https://healthhuntersradio.com/episodes/hunters/episode-2-diet-restriction-weight-loss