The Fallacy of Lifestyle Diets.
First, let’s define what I consider a “lifestyle diet” to be:
“A lifestyle diet is any diet that requires you to completely give up certain groups of foods as a RULE of the diet.”
Diets like Paleo, Low Carb, Vegan, etc fit the bill.
Basically, once you decide that you’re going with one of the above, you’re supposed to eat like this FOREVER for “optimum health”.
Oh, and because of this, you never have to “count” calories.
Here are my 2 problems with lifestyle diets:
1. The diet itself often becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. In this context, when you eliminate certain foods from your life, you actually start to lose the ability to process them correctly. This is because the microflora in your body that are charged with helping to digest that particular food actually dies off because it’s not getting fed.
So, if you ever decide to “eat normal” again – you actually feel like you now have an intolerance to that food!
We see this with vegans and vegetarians who eat meat again for the first time. Sometimes it actually makes them feel sick!
It can also happen with gluten and dairy intolerances.
Plus, I’ve yet to see any reputable sources that show one type of diet is superior to others as far as health WHEN WEIGHT IS REMOVED FROM THE EQUATION.
The fact is, the less body fat you hold, the healthier you are from MEASURABLE statistics
Couple in all the scaremongering over health, plus the fact that if you EVER want to eat normal again, you’ll likely have to go on a course of probiotics to reintroduce the bacteria you’ve lost… and you’ve basically now ran around in circles for nothing.
So there’s that.
Here’s the 2nd part:
I have YET to see a “lifestyle diet” get someone trimmed down so far as to consider them to being “ripped” unless some type of calorie control mechanism is there.
In fact, most people get very discouraged on these types of diets because everything stalls once they normalize.
You see, all diets involve some type of restriction.
You’re either restricting energy loads or food types – or both.
For many people, just taking out “bad foods” or those that are most palatable – which is what most diets ACTUALLY do by default – will get them to an average state.
But here’s the problem.
Once the changes in your body stall – where do you turn to next?
It’s not like you can go MORE PALEO…
… or MORE VEGAN…
… or MORE LOW CARB…
And actually, I’ve seen one PROMINENT low carb blogger actually stall and then GAIN weight – and then went to his low carb doctor and NEITHER ONE could figure out why he was gaining weight again.
Um – here’s a thought.
Could it POSSIBLY be the fact that he was eating an EXCESS of 4000kcals a DAY?!?
Think about it this way.
I’ve yet to meet a physique competitor who just WINGS calorie loads yet manipulates foods.
They all do BOTH.
Plus, and this is going to be a little nerdy, so stay with me…
All of the uproar about diets and nutrition, calories don’t matter, etc only focus on CONSERVATION OF ENERGY.
There’s a lot of confusion here.
However, no one EVER thinks about CONSERVATION OF MASS!
Think about it.
That 4000+ kcal’s from above actually in stored in FOOD… that has MASS.
Couple that with the fact that most of the chemical reactions in your body that extract energy yields products (like carbon dioxide) that are expelled through BREATH.
(this is how BMR is measured – they make you breathe into a device that measures oxygen consumption)
Do you really think that eating huge, no matter the source, is going to influence metabolism enough to cause you to breath out SIGNIFICANTLY MORE CO2?
Yes, it goes up… but not by double.
Or, better yet, does eating more today make you out of breath the rest of the day, trying to get more oxygen in your body to process that food? (like when running)
That last one seems a little ridiculous doesn’t it – but that’s what would have to happen.
Remember, it’s the chemical reactions in your body that drive everything.
Chemical reactions involve one molecule (mass) interacting with another molecule (mass) to form products (with the same mass).
All this talk about “energy” ignores the obvious.
If you want to maintain weight, then the amount of chemical reactants extracted from food must roughly equal the number of chemical PRODUCTS expelled in breath (you pee some out too)
With this being said, you can look at BREATH as a rate limiting step.
Do you think you could breathe out 10,000 kcals worth of food per day?
Give that some thought.
The point is, how much food (aka food mass) matters.
“Energy” is just one side of it.
I think it makes sense for some people to think of it this way.
Bottom line: if you want to get or stay lean, food volume matters!
Reprogramming the mind to be happier simply eat less food (leaving some on your plate etc) and not indulging too much in “treats” and keeping them “treats” without abstaining completely can, and often is the key.
That’s enough rant today!