I have done you a disservice. I’m not proud of it but, this is my time to come clean. When writing the first volume of this series, Burning Fat, we dove hard into the topics and I made the comment calories in vs. calories out as a good way of thinking how to lose weight and/or fat without really explainning what that means.
If you’ve ever gone to a fitness center or worked out with a trainer to lose weight, gain muscle, or maintain weight, one of the most popular things people say is calories in vs. calories out. While intuitively this statement makes since, what science is now learning and sharing is there’s a lot more to the equation than just eating less and working out more. The eat less, sweat more mantra can actually further harm the progress you are trying to make.
In this article, I want to explain to you what’s possibly going on in your body and why what you’re feeding it means so much more than just looking good, losing weight, or “bulking up” for the season. I want to empower you to take action and know what to eat and why… and how to best protect your body if you eat junk every now and then. I’ll recommend some further readings at the bottom if you want to nerd out with us. For now, here’s what you need to know.
WHY SO SERIOUS?
Whether you want to believe it or not, what you put into your body matters a whole heck of a lot. Frustration sets in anytime we come across a social media post, article, or other about If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) program.
Eating whatever you want as long as it’s within the range your given sounds like a great plan, but carbs, proteins, and fats are not all the same unfortunately. If they were, I’d be in a Dairy Queen line right now getting an Oreo Blizzard (should that be capitalized? not sure) and asking them to stuff as many fries in it as possible.
Sadly, all calorie quality is not the same and vegetable oils don’t do the same things to your body, as say, a healthier alternative, like coconut oil or avocado oil. People are making some serious cash off of this too. Selling their calculators, diet programs and recipe books to you.
Why? Because they are telling you to eat whatever you want if it fits in the macros… Isn’t that what you wanted to hear? Have you cake and eat it too? It’s ok to have some of that every now and then but it shouldn’t be the bulk of your diet. To be fair, not all people say this or believe this but they will try to make it a selling point for sure.
ENTER THE WOLF
An interesting amount of research is coming out from Robb Wolf. Who is this man? Robb used to be a biochemist researcher and now is major Paleo advocate and affiliate owner for Crossfit. As you can see, health, nutrition and wellness seem to mean a lot to him. In his new book Wired To Eat he explores the reactions your body has to certain foods. That is to say, how your blood glucose responds to cookies vs. a banana, for example.
What he found was pretty shocking. Apparently, everyone has different responses to different foods. It’s not just across the board, this food makes this happen in your body. For example, he tested consuming a coookie and then measured the blood glucose response. While some people had higher blood glucose responses as expected to foods like cookies others ate the cookies and had a normal blood glucose response. Could this mean cookies aren’t so bad for you after all? Well, I wouldn’t jump the gun and go by a box of Oreos chalked full of chemicals and garbage just yet.
What Robb suggests is doing a 7-Day Carb Test to find out which foods promote healthy responses in your body. You can find out more about in his book Wired To Eat or FAQs here. It’s relatively easy to read or listen to and to do the actual test all you pretty much need is a blood glucose monitor.
Why is your glucose response to foods so important? Without getting super nerdy and sciency this week, I want you to understand some basic concepts.
- Your body tells you, HELLO I’m HUNGRY!! by releasing ghrelin (hormone)
- You eat food
- Your body extracts this across your GI
- Different areas for different macros (fat, protein, carbs)
- Your blood glucose rises in repsonse because it’s from the food you just ate now in a metabolite form in your blood
- At some point leptin (hormone) is released and says HEY UP THERE, I’m GOOD, no more food please.
- You liver releases insulin to tell your cells to store the excess glucose now in the blood stream to bring your glucose level back to normal for you
- Once blood glucose returns to baseline (normal) the liver will stop release insulin and all is well until you eat again.
Under normal conditions this process seems pretty straight forwarded right? You are hungry, you eat, your body says that’s enough and the body adapts and stores the nutrients. The problem isn’t quite so simple.
To be honest, this is what many books are written about, what exactly happens when we eat bad food to our bodies. Best answer I can give you is a whole lot. Our bodies are made up of atoms with continuous chemical reactions making us who we are. Every second there is an estimated 37.2 trillion chemical reactions occuring in a eukaryotic cell (us). So, you can start to imagine when just one thing goes slightly wrong what can happen “down stream” to the rest of the reactions.
When we eat junk, or better yet, when the food we eat bothers us internally (abnormal rise in blood glucose, leaky gut, etc.) or externally (ezcema, allergies, asthma, etc.) we cause inflammation to occur. This requires our immunes system to go into over-drive because the body thinks of the food as an invader and wants to attack it. I can tell you from personal experience when my diet includes the things I know I shouldn’t be eating, like certain grains, my hands and knees can swell-up and be very painful. This dramatically affects my quaility of life so I know what I have to stick away from unless I want those consequences.
OH, COME ON!
Now, let’s assume you eat at least one food item that bothers you. Just one. (Although, I’m very sure after reading two books recently, more foods than that do bother us.) So what? Well, if you are already overweight or obese you are adding several factors in that are further complicating this process.
I’m not asking you to buy into anything, adpat to a new lifestlye, but I do want you to realize your body is one giant beaker of reactions. What you put into one side of the equation must be balanced on the other side to meet – equilibrium or homeostasis. When we eat junk or inflammatory foods we are making a conscoius decision to disrupt this formula and consequences sooner or later will result. It could be acidreflux after a burger and fries or worse Alzheimer’s 20 years down the road from a chronic inflammatory process.
Again, I know from experience when it comes to the inflammorty process. I sometimes will break out with eczema or have bad sinus problems due to foods I acutely eat. Now imagine I just kept eating these foods for years instead of rarely. What do you think will happen then?
Whether you want to beleive me or not, food can make or break you internally or externally. You may not see all the signs and symptoms right away from inflammatory foods, but believe me, they will find you. Everyone’s body is different and you can react to certain foods very negatively while your buddy has no real response.
Notice how your body reacts and feels to each food item you ingest. If it causes a “crash” or other symptom like heart burn, it’s probably a good idea to stay away from those foods. Eat more of the ones that make you feel great and you’ll be on your way to success.
Next week we will be talking about different diets and how they effect you.
Wired to Eat — this takes you to audible for a 30-Day free trial and you can download this book or any to listen to. Worth it!
It Starts With Food — Great book by the peeps who brought you Whole 30 which is a 30 day challenge to change your eating and feel better. Very simple and easy book that expands on many of the topics here.
Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast — this podcast taps about good carbs, bad carbs, high carbs, and low carbs. Yea that’s what it says and not me being funny. Great listen plus it will give you a head start to next week.