15 years ago I had a problem – I needed to lose weight, but I was already running an hour a day after school in the blistering Texas heat, and I wasn’t getting the results I wanted.
So what did I do about it?
I devised a plan to get in an additional running session before school.
Tomorrow I’ll get up at 5:30 AM, I’ll sneak downstairs, shoes in hand, turn off the alarm, throw my shoes on, and be halfway down the block before anyone’s the wiser…
I knew once I woke up in the morning I’d have to move quickly though – my dad was a notoriously light sleeper, I was concerned he’d put the kibosh on the whole plan, and I was too embarrassed about being overweight to just talk about it openly and ask for help.
I can’t actually remember how I woke up at 5:30 AM without waking up my dad, but just trust for the moment that 15 year old Bennett figured it out.
I felt so exhausted when I woke up, but I also felt alive – nothing’s going to stop me from reaching my goal!
Psst, hey buddy, where you going??
I was disappointed that my plan was thwarted, but the real tragedy started long before I ever devised my two-a-day workout plan in the first place.
It started with the (mistaken) belief that more exercise by itself produces more results.
It wasn’t surprising that I believed it though, most people still believe it, and it’s the first of three reasons that it’s not your fault that you’re overweight.
3 Reasons It’s Not Your Fault That You’re Overweight
1. The packaged food industry tells you “it’s all about calories in, calories out”
If you ask a random guy on the street how to lose weight, he’ll probably say “dude, it’s all about calories in, calories out, everyone knows that.”
But if you ask him why humans can’t naturally balance their energy without counting calories, he’ll be dumbfounded, scratch his head, look confused, and then say something like “because fast food exists” or “people are manipulated by food marketing” or some other random BS he read on a bumper sticker.
If you haven’t heard it before, let me be the first to tell you, IT’S NOT all about calories in, it’s all about QUALITY IN.
But wait, if you eat fewer calories than you burn, won’t you lose weight?
And just to prove it a professor at Kansas State University went on a “twinkie diet,” eating primarily junk food for two months straight, losing 27 lbs in the process.
BUT – and this is the whole point – have you ever tried counting the calories of every single one of your meals?
It’s an absolutely ludicrous process.
The only thing this professor proved is that people are capable of insane feats of dedication for short periods of time.
The preoccupation with measuring and tracking calories in and calories out ignores some obvious observations about energy balance (the point where calories in naturally meet calories out).
- All other mammals maintain energy balance naturally without ever having to count a single calorie. Case in point – have you ever seen a squirrel so overweight that he couldn’t leave his nest without external assistance?
- The calorie was not discovered until 1824 by Nicolas Clement and yet the vast majority of humans maintained a healthy weight prior to its discovery without counting calories.
Explaining that someone became overweight because they ate too many calories is like saying someone got black out drunk because they drank too much alcohol – no shit!
The relevant question is why?
Why would someone drink so much alcohol that they blacked out – were they celebrating New Year’s, were they depressed, did they not eat dinner and the alcohol’s effects took them by surprise?
The same question applies to energy balance – the relevant question is why would you feel compelled to consume more calories than you naturally expend?
The answer is that it’s not about calories in – it’s about quality in.
When you eat poor quality food, your body sends you the signal to eat more and more so you can get sufficient nutrients to function properly, even at the cost of gaining excess fat.
But when you eat high-quality, nutrient dense foods that humans evolved to eat, you feel satiated after a meal, and you’ll naturally achieve energy balance because you won’t feel compelled to continue eating more food.
It doesn’t take an evolutionary biologist to prove it either!
Have you ever eaten a donut and wanted to immediately eat two more donuts?
Have you ever eaten a 12 oz grass-fed steak and immediately wanted to eat two more grass-fed steaks?
Didn’t think so.
When people focus on calories in, and calories out (instead of quality in), they typically attempt one of three unsustainable and largely ineffective practices:
- They indiscriminately reduce the number of “calories in” by going on an ultra-low calorie diet, which leaves them feeling hungry, tired, or both.
- They increase the number of calories they burn by doing large volumes of exercise, typically long-duration, low-intensity cardio (like running or spinning), which leaves them feeling exhausted and starving. In many cases they become injured at some point and regain any weight they’ve lost.
- They do both at the same time – eat way less and exercise way more. This is a recipe for disaster, as eventually these people crack (because they’re human), and they go back to their old shitty diet and stop exercising completely. (This is what 15 year old Bennett did, don’t be 15 year old Bennett, learn from my mistakes!)
None of these work in the long run because they are inherently unsustainable. The sooner you switch to a diet that emphasizes quality instead of calories, the sooner you can get on a sustainable path to being lean.
Focus on quality, not on calories.
2. Doctors have told you that fat is bad for you
In the late 1950s an American scientist named Ancel Keys released the Seven Countries Study, demonstrating a link between the consumption of saturated fat (fat from animals) and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
But there was one problem – Keys cherry-picked his data.
Keys original study contained a total of 22 countries, but 15 of those 22 countries didn’t fit the correlation Keys was trying to demonstrate, so he just removed them from the dataset – if that sounds shady to you, that’s because it is, this is known as fraud.
But that didn’t stop Keys from influencing nutrition policy around the world!
Fortunately, in recent years, many authors have debunked Keys’ unscientific conclusions, including Gary Taubes in his 640 page book Good Calories, Bad Calories.
But you don’t need to read a tome to reach the conclusion that certain fats are in fact healthy for you. You just need to take note of one simple observation:
- It’s now universally accepted that the healthiest nutrition for infants is their mothers’ breast milk. Do those mothers extract that milk and strain it of all its fat before giving it to their infants? Obviously not, the nursing babies consume it directly from their mothers, in full-fat form. And it’s not unsaturated fat either, it’s saturated fat. If all saturated fat contributed to heart disease, nursing mothers would be harming their children.
What’s worse is that when food product companies remove fat from their products, they’re effectively removing the taste. You’ll notice that almost every single low-fat product has some sort of (sugary) flavoring added (for example, low fat yogurt with fruit or honey). If they didn’t add sugar, their products would taste like cardboard and no one would buy them. So not only are you missing out on the health benefits of fat, but you’re also eating lots of unhealthy sugar.
Focus on consuming healthy fats (grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, whole eggs, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.) and avoid low-fat products that are laced with sugar.
3. You’ve never been taught how to consume carbohydrates strategically
The success of low-carbohydrate diets is well known. If you sustain a low-carb diet, you will lose weight and maintain a leaner physique. They’re so successful that every few years there appears to be a new low-carb diet that grabs headlines (examples include Atkins, Sugar Busters, and the Zone Diet).
These diets work, but there’s one glaring problem with most low-carb diets – they fail to recognize that your favorite food in the entire universe is probably a carb! Examples include pizza, pasta, potatoes, rice, cookies, cakes, etc.
So you have low-carb diets telling you that to be lean you have to eat fewer carbs, but you’re fighting an uphill battle against yourself because the longer you go without carbs, the more you crave them – especially if you work out, do lots of walking, live a high-stress lifestyle, or have poor sleep habits.
So what do you do?
Well, one thing we know is that most people who follow low-carb programs fail because they don’t account for the fact that sooner or later, they’re going to eat a carb that isn’t sanctioned by the program (be realistic, are you REALLY going to avoid pizza for the rest of your life?)
And when that happens, instead of going right back to eating healthy, they feel overwhelmed and say something like “Ahh screw it, this is stupid” and return to their poor food choices.
But we know that your old diet is what caused you to gain weight in the first place, so going back to it isn’t going to solve your problem.
Instead, you need to consume carbohydrates strategically – and there are lots of ways to do this!
But before I give you a few strategies, I’d like to clarify what’s not a strategy.
Eating high-carb foods because you’re stressed out, overwhelmed, or tired is not a strategy.
Eating high-carb foods for lunch everyday because “omfg that sandwich looks so good!!!” is not a strategy.
Eating high-carb foods because you pretend you don’t know how to cook and are so lazy you can’t Google a single low-carb recipe is not a strategy.
So now that we’re clear, let’s talk about a few actual strategies.
One strategy is to pick one meal or one day a week and eat the foods you enjoy – this is your “reward meal” or “reward day.”
A better strategy is to only consume high-carb foods after an intense strength training workout. This ensures more of the excess calories get shoved into the muscle you just trained instead of your fat.
A third way is to do cold therapy (ice packs, cool showers, and cold baths) before or after your high-carb consumption to mitigate the fat gaining effects of high-carb consumption.
And these are just a few ways!
Focus on strategic carb consumption, and stop committing to carb avoidance for the rest of your life!
So what else can you do about it?
It’s no wonder you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle when the food industry tells you it’s all about “calories in, calories out,” doctors tell you fat is bad for you, and no one taught you how to consume carbs strategically!
But that doesn’t mean you can’t get started on being healthier today, and you don’t have to change everything all at once – in fact, doing it in stages is more sustainable for most people.
How about you start with eating a healthy breakfast?
Enter your info below, and I’ll immediately send you three delicious and healthy 5-minute breakfasts to get you on the road to the body you want starting first thing tomorrow morning – my free gift to you : )