Now it’s time to talk to you about carbs.
With the Keto Diet being so popular right now there are a lot of misconceptions out there about carbs being bad.
I’ll share some useful information to help you better understand carbohydrates and how to moderate how much of them you’re eating.
Carbohydrates play a few different vital roles in the body.
However, carbs in comparison to protein and fats don’t actually have nearly as many different roles.
Carbohydrates main functions are:
We will keep thing super simple, there are three categories of carbs
Often, people look at carbs in simple terms of being “bad.” Or some people simply look at some as good and others as bad.
We find it a lot more effective to look at carbohydrates as a spectrum.
Similar to healthy fats compared to other fats with carbs we have what we call "smart carbs."
Ideally, you want to get more of your carbohydrates on the “smart carb” end of the spectrum.
However, if you are eating sources of carbohydrates that are on the more processed end of the spectrum such as white pasta, crackers, cereal or other sources you should still aim to get a proper serving size.
We use 1 scooped out handful as a serving size of carbohydrates.
Most females will do best starting with 3-6 servings of carbohydrates per day.
Most males will do best starting with 6-12 servings of carbohydrates per day.
From a practical standpoint, getting a proper serving size of fats throughout the day is key to changing body composition and feeling your best.
Fats can very helpful with weight loss or hinder and prevent someone from losing weight.
They help with weight loss because fats are important in slowing down the digestion of foods which helps with feeling satisfied.
However, fats are also very calorie dense and unlike lean protein, fruits and vegetables fats are much easier to overeat.
With the Keto Diet being very trendy over the last few years a lot of people have gotten over the fear of fat after decades of the low-fat craze.
However, we have seen many clients coming to us struggling to lose weight who are over-consuming fats which are stopping them from getting results because they've heard that if you’re avoiding carbs you can’t overeat on fat.
We recommend moderating how much fat you consume through serving size.
This is another case of why we have this philosophy of no food is simply good or bad. Instead, know how to use food to get the results you want.
It is very common for new clients starting with us to be overeating on avocados, cooking oil, nuts, seeds, cheese and other "healthy" fats because they have the overly simplistic philosophy that healthy foods help you lose weight.
The key is to get the right serving of our healthy fats.
These cover what we refer to as healthy fats.
Sometimes you will be eating sources of fat that aren’t the “healthiest” versions, we would still recommend following the serving sizes outlined.
Again, I want to really stress this.
These are all healthy foods, but we need to make sure you get them in the proper serving size.
We recommend people use about the size of their thumb as rough serving size for healthy fats.
Males will typically need 6-12 servings of healthy fats in a day.
Females will typically need 3-6 servings of healthy fats in a day.
The nut butter, oils, and dressings are a lot more calorie dense which is why the serving size is a little smaller.
When most people start trying to eat healthier or lose weight they focus on what foods to eliminate and what foods to avoid first.
Instead of focusing on what to avoid, we highly suggest you focus on first adding healthy, nutritious food to your diet first.
That way you are giving your body the fuel it needs to help you look and feel your best.
When most people think protein they usually think about protein as helping to build muscle.
More muscle = higher metabolism and a leaner looking body.
However, protein has other really important roles in the body as well.
As you can see protein is vital for a lot of really important functions in the body.
Helping you stay satisfied is one of the most important practical functions when it comes to changing body composition.
Another very important note, the body also has a very fast turn-over rate for protein compared to fats and carbs.
This means that you ideally want a steady supply of proteins throughout the day.
We recommend that someone tries to eat lean protein in proper serving sizes at least 3 times per day fairly evenly spread out.
There are all sorts of different options for you to choose from.
It’s important you try to get a variety of sources, not just chicken breast every day.
We use a palm size serving as a rough guideline for serving size.
Or a palm size being approximately 1 palm of protein will be around 3-5 ounces of cooked meat or 3/4-1 cup of cottage cheese, Greek Yogurt or vegetable source, 2-3 eggs.
Important to note that 1 palm is a rough starting point. You may need to adjust up or down in serving size based on what you’re experiencing.
Females will typically need 3-6 palm size servings of lean protein per day.
Males will need approximately 6-12 palm size servings of protein throughout a day.
You might need a little more or less depending on your body.
Almost none of our clients starting with us are getting nearly enough protein which is creating challenges with properly regulating food intake.
You have a type of hormone called cortisol. This is often referred to as your stress hormone. Often people can refer to something people call the cortisol weight gain.
When your body is under some sort of stress (physical, emotional, environmental) your body will release cortisol (stress hormone).
Some published research has correlated cortisol with belly fat. Scientists aren’t entirely sure why.
I’m going to walk you through the basics on cortisol and what you can do to help manage your cortisol levels and help try to target belly fat.
Before I explain cortisol weight gain I need to begin with the basics. A quick explanation of what cortisol does.
The larger the stress the more cortisol your body is supposed to release.
This is how the human body works. Cortisol does important things like:
Most people when they think of stress only think of 1 type. Mental/emotional stress. There are many forms of stress. For example:
There are a lot of different stressors.
Essentially anything that begins the stress response and causes a release of cortisol as far as the human body is concerned is a stress. Your adrenal glands releases cortisol and it does not differentiate between good stress or bad. Only the degree of stress.
Odds are yes. Most people living the western lifestyle do. Too much stress can make it really challenging to lose weight. Specifically, through your midsection.
We often find clients who carry high levels of stress will lose weight through their bellies at a much slower pace.
Here are some signs that your body is overly stressed and fatigued:
Obviously, these symptoms can mean lots of different things. However, if you’re noticing that you have multiple symptoms on this list. There is a good chance you have too much stress on your body and it could be impacting your hormones.
If your body is chronically overly fatigued or you are perpetually needing more cortisol it will have an impact on your other hormones.
To name a few cortisol can impact:
These are some important players in the body. There are a lot of doctors out there who feel that before worrying about any imbalance in estrogen, testosterone or thyroid hormones you should first worry about your cortisol/stress.
Chronically higher levels of stress can lower testosterone.
Obviously, impacting your testosterone will change your ability to develop muscle for both males and females. This has a major impact on your metabolism. Additionally, it’s an even bigger problem for you if you’re middle aged.
As you age your body loses muscle mass. This is the biggest reason that your metabolism decreases as you age. The more muscle mass you can maintain as you age. The more your metabolism will maintain as you age.
This is one of the ways chronically high stress can have a seriously negative impact on your metabolism.
There isn’t actually a hormone called estrogen. Interesting fact. But, there are a group of hormones that are commonly referred to as estrogens (so I’ll keep calling them that to keep it simple).
This can have a major impact on health. Many have theorized that this has a major impact on women starting menopause earlier. As well as, the degree to which they have hot flashes.
Your body naturally begins producing less estrogens when you begin menopause. If your body has had years of chronic stress you’ll already be at lower levels before your body begins producing less.
This makes the natural decrease hit even harder.
This is a big factor in why so many women gain large amount of weight during menopause.
Stress plays a MAJOR role in this. I have had numerous clients struggle with weight loss during menopause. And almost all of them have had a major stress in the 1-2 years leading up to when they began menopause.
Odds are you know the gist of thyroid hormones job in laymen’s terms. When thyroid hormones increase…..metabolism increases. When thyroid hormones decreases……metabolism decreases.
I’m sure a physiologist would have a heart attack with this over simplification. But, it will serve our purposes.
I’m going to expand on this later. But, for now all you need to know if that when your body has to release cortisol it will actually cause a decrease in thyroid hormone production.
At this point it should be pretty obvious, you need to manage your stress levels.
Okay, that’s not very helpful.
I’m going to share with you bullet points of practical how-to’s for how to improve your hormones for weight loss.
I can’t tell you how often I have had clients come in and explain to me they can’t lose weight because of hormones (typically women……okay I’ve never had a male client say this).
I’ll often ask them what are hormones? And they’ll say you know estrogen and thyroid hormone. Hormones. I’ll press a little bit more. Yes, those are types of hormones. But, what are hormones?
And usually they don’t know. It’s an interesting situation when you stop and think about. They are convinced something (hormones) are stopping them from losing weight when they don’t even know what they are.
All too often I see clients getting into the “hormone blame game.” They quickly brush off any challenges with losing weight on hormones.
Instead what we encourage clients to do is think of hormones as being a factor in the equation instead of ruining the whole equation.
You still have to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. A lot of people have some confusion around this. If hormones are creating problems for you with weight loss it’s because they’re changing the energy out side of the equation.
And in fact, they can be changing the calories in side of the equation too. Which people often don’t think about.
For example, prolonged releases of cortisol (your stress hormone) will increase appetite and motivation to eat.
I’m going to keep the science to a minimum and keep things very practical. Hormones are essential chemicals that your body releases to regulate different tasks throughout the body. For example, thyroid hormones are released and your metabolism increases.
Another important thing to understand is that your hormones impact one and other. Generally speaking increasing one hormone will decrease or increase other hormones. Your body has systems that work together and impact on and other.
For example, when your body signals to release more stress hormone it typically decreases how much thyroid hormone it releases.
When you have imbalances in hormones it can start to change how your body is functioning.
There are many things you can do to change which hormones you’re releasing. Obviously, I’m not a medical doctor. If you have a serious hormone imbalance you should seek the help of a medical professional.
On the other hand, if you’re finding you’re having a tougher time losing weight and you want practical things that deliver results. I can help you with that.
There are many things you can do with exercise, nutrition and your lifestyle to start boosting your metabolism and start tipping the scales to the energy out side of the equation and start losing weight.
Some people think there is no such thing as good carbs for weight loss.
When we first sit down with someone it's common to hear “I know I can’t eat carbs and lose weight.”
Most people out there think that carbs are bad for them. A lot of people think that they have almost no control over themselves around carbs. Almost everyone will lose a lot of weight when they take all carbs out of their diet.
Yes. Yes, they do. Next topic?
Research has shown that low carb diets are very effective at causing weight loss. I mean you’ve all heard of Atkins and I’m sure you have either been on it or know people that have lost a lot of weight on it.
These types of diets would have you believe there is no such thing as good carbs for weight loss.
You are getting ketogenic when you consume less carbohydrates than your body would like to function. So, it turns fat stores into something called ketones and uses them in place of carbohydrates.
Symptoms of ketosis include:
Typically, these symptoms last only through initially adopting a low carb diet. It’s often referred to as “keto flu.”
And then most people have increased energy, better mental clarity and other positive things occurring. One of them being losing typically losing weight quickly. I mean really fast.
Often people think they’re on a low carb diet when they are not. I have clients tell me all the time that they’ve cut out all carbs. What they actually mean is they’ve stopped eating bread and pasta.
Although they are decreasing how much carbohydrates they eat. Most people are not having a truly low carb diet unless they are following one of the ones mentioned above.
So, I want to be clear when I say low carb diet what I’m talking about is someone eating so little carbohydrates their body goes into ketosis.
Maybe, it depends. But, probably not. Almost every diet out there "works." It works by having you burn out more calories than you’re consuming simple as that.
Low carb diets take out carbs to do this
Weight watchers has you count points
The Paleo Diet gets you eating lots of whole foods
And so on and so forth. But, they are all just different strategies to help this along.
It’s not that low carb diets are necessarily bad. However, there are a few negative side effects most people don't know about.
At least I don't recommend low carb diets for most people.
The reason why is pretty simple.
Prolonged periods of ketosis have a high chance of giving you metabolic adaptations that will slow your metabolism down.
Typically, I have found low carb diets often lead to people hitting plateaus getting frustrated and then giving up on their diet.
Then, the problem starts. Their metabolism is decreased from prolonged periods of being ketogenic. In addition to this, they feel deprived having avoided a lot of their favourite high carb foods.
The end result, they balloon back up quickly.
At least, that has been my experiencing having coached over a thousand people on how to lose weight over the last 12 years.
Here are some of the physiological adaptations your body makes with prolonged low carb dieting:
Once, I had a client named Brad. Two years before working with us he dropped 60 pounds in just 3 months using a low carb diet.
As well, he had the benefit of working a construction job for those 3 months. Within 2 months of losing all that weight he had gained 50 pounds back. And then another 15 pounds within 3 more months.
Besides feeling deprived are there any benefits to eating carbs? Are there any carbs that are actually good for weight loss?
Yes, there are good carbs for weight loss. For the most part, no foods are good or bad. All foods just have pro’s and con’s. Just like all diets have pro’s and con’s.
Your body might not need carbohydrates to survive. But, it sure would like them.
You can lose weight without eating low carb. You don’t have to take them all out.
But, you do need to use some strategies around carbs.
So, I'd suggest you don't look at their as being good foods and bad foods. However, there are some foods that are superior when it comes to helping you lose weight. Essentially, all foods have pros and cons.
Let’s look at some of their pros and cons with carbs.. These will help you start to learn which carbs are good for weight loss.
First, I want to note something important. There aren't truly any good or bad foods. However, there are foods that make it easier to lose weight.
Specifically, when talking about carbs we sometimes refer to these as good carbs for weight loss. In general, we prefer the term smart carbs. since we’ve established carbs aren’t really good or bad.
Most of the cons are entirely dependent on two things:
You can easily use some strategies and guidelines for carbs and weight loss to get results without cutting them out.
There are numerous different strategies you can use. Some of these you can use on their own. Some of these you can use in conjunction with each other.
1) Focus on eating more smart carbs
Wait, what exactly are smart carbs? They're sources of carbohydrates that are more likely to keep you satisfied on less calories.
Generally speaking, whole foods or minimally processed foods will keep you satisfied on less. You have to eat a larger quantity of highly processed foods to stay satisfied. (what most people think of as good carbs for weight loss).
Most people like things being black and white. Either it's a good carb for weight loss or a bad carb for weight loss. In reality, it’s a spectrum from whole foods to highly processed.
Most people spend their time between the middle and bottom of that spectrum. The more often you spend near the top of that spectrum the better.
The food at the top of the spectrum typically has more fiber which helps to keep satisfied. Also, generally speaking whole foods actually take more energy to digest compared to processed foods.
For example, one study compared a meal that consisted of whole foods and one that consisted of processed foods.
Despite having the same amount of calories in the meal the meal with whole foods took an average of an extra 64 calories to digest.
Most people don’t realize that your body has to use energy to digest food. Some foods take more energy to digest than others.
The general rule of thumb is that whole foods take more energy to digest compared to processed foods.
2) Focus on eating better serving sizes of carbs
This is the other big problem. People aren’t becoming overweight from having proper serving sizes of carbs. People are having too large of serving sizes.
A lot of this has to do with point #1 the sources of carbs that they’re eating the majority of the time.
The better you’re doing on the first point the easier this strategy is. Here is a great starting point for most people:
For females focus on having 1 scooped out handful of carbs as a serving size.
For males focus on having 2 scooped out handfuls of carbs as a serving size.
Males generally speaking burn out more calories. So, they have larger serving sizes.
Essentially, it’s summed it with those two issues.
Weight loss doesn’t have to be complicated it can be simple.
The problem with carbs is that most people are either all in or all out. They either take them out completely or overindulge in them.
Basically, you need moderation. Something that is much easier said than done.
So, this is going to happen. That’s part of life. Everybody does this sometimes. The bigger problem when someone is trying to lose weight is that once they overindulge they get into the mentality that they’ve “ruined” everything.
This causes them to get farther and farther off track. Instead, what I’d suggest is having some tools in your tool box to help manage over indulging instead of feeling like you’ve ruined all your progress.
If you’ve been working hard at genuinely making changes in your life and you get off track for a meal. Or a night. Or a weekend. You can’t ruin all the weight loss progress that you’ve made.
Next, I’m going to share a few different strategies that can help you with controlling how much food you’re eating when you over eat on carbs.
But first, I want to stress this. Don’t look at it as a bad thing when you overeat on carbs. Or any other food. That’s part of life and how it goes.
I’ll use a metaphor to hopefully help you understand. Look at it this way.
Is it a bad thing if you spend more than your typical monthly budget around Christmas time? No, not necessarily.
But you should make changes to your other spending in December or January to balance out your increased spending for Christmas.
If you don't then you're just piling up more and more debt.
Sometimes you want to spend more money (or in other words sometimes you’ll want to eat a lot more carbs).
The strategies I’ll share with you are to help you adjust the “budget” so to speak.
First there are typically 2 ways people over indulge:
I mention this simply to point out that different strategies are often more beneficial depending on if you’re in scenario A or B.
1) If you know you are going to be overeating try to have a higher intensity workout in the 1-3 hours before that meal. When you perform higher intensity exercises your body relies on stores of carbohydrates for energy.
If you perform higher intensity exercises before the meal you’ll have more empty storage space in your muscles and liver to store carbs.
2) Get in an extra workout the day of or morning after you over indulge. This can help to balance things out if you’re overindulging. The morning after won’t take advantage of point #1, but will still help. And remember it’s an extra workout over your usual routine.
3) Cut back on how much carbs you eat throughout the day of or after you overindulge. Focus more on eating sources of protein and vegetables throughout the day.
4) If you really overindulge the next morning skip breakfast and wait to eat lunch until you’re really good and hungry. Often when people really overindulge they can use this technique and not get hungry until after 1:00 PM the next day. It helps to balance out the surplus of calories. Again, this is more typically when you really overindulge.
There are four strategies that our clients use to make weight loss work in the real world. Instead of feeling like you’ve ruined everything enjoy yourself when you’re eating carbs. If you overindulge that’s okay.
You won’t ruin all your progress. You just have to make some adjustments along the way.
Carbs aren’t good or bad. Try to move away from the idea of there being good carbs for weight loss. It leaves only two options.
If you start looking at it in terms of the smart carb spectrum it will make life much easier than the over simplified good carbs for weight loss and bad carbs for weight loss.
Instead of taking them all out of your diet learn how to make them a part of your weight loss plan. Don’t over complicate things. Don’t eliminate things.
Stick to the KISS method (keep it super simple……okay I tweaked that a little to be more positive). Here is an infographic we made to give you examples of your best options for smart carbs.
Have you ever heard of an elimination diet? It’s something we have used with clients to help them drop 2-4 inches off their waist in just a 3-4 week period.
The big draw to an elimination diet is that it takes stress of the digestive tract. In addition to that it largely works because you’re eliminating calorie dense processed foods.
When you combine these two things it leads to weight loss. There are many different versions of elimination diets out there. We suggest a super simple elimination diet because it makes things easier for people who haven’t tried something like this before (or for those who have tried before, but failed to be able to follow through on it).
Important to note for most people this is not a long-term diet or lifestyle change. The purpose is to identify if there are foods that are not agreeing with your digestive tract. It doesn’t mean you should never eat any of these foods every again.
We typically suggest you do a minimum of 3-4 weeks eliminating the food 100% for that time period.
You can do it for longer periods of time 6-8 weeks, but most people find they start feeling deprived when they go too long.
You must eliminate the food completely from your diet. 100% of the time for the set number of weeks you decide on. Don’t invest your time and energy if you’re not ready to completely eliminate the food from your diet.
Usually, we are all about moderation. However, for this diet to work in its goal of identifying what foods are bugging your digestive tract it must be followed 100% of the time.
Here is a list. You can always do a modified version where you only pick certain foods off this list to eliminate. Of course, it will be far more powerful if you eliminate all of them.
This is the question we usually get after someone reads this list. Here is a list of the foods you can eat (obviously not a complete list).
Essentially real whole foods not including a few from the groups listed above.
You have to watch for many processed foods that are healthy but still should be avoided on the elimination. For example, peanut butter, almond milk or other similar products which although may be healthy are still to be eliminated to check for food intolerance.
As well, processed foods are easier to overeat on. So, it will help the elimination diet for weight loss.
Here are some easy tips to make life a little easier.
This is important. Once you’ve eliminated the food for 3-4 weeks (or longer) you can check to see how you react to the food by introducing 1 food at a time in a normal serving sized amount of that food. And see if you have any reactions over the next 2-3 days.
Make sure to only add in 1 food every 4 days. Often some reactions like rashes or others are delayed.
I want to help you not just boost up your metabolism. I want to help you burn out more calories in less time.
I want to help you get a hormonal response that helps you burn the most body fat possible. Specifically, the most belly fat possible.
If you're looking to do all that you can perform this weight loss workout from home. You can scroll to the bottom for the workout or learn more about how to boost your metabolism up with your workouts.
I’m sure you’ve seen the graph on your favourite piece of cardio equipment.It shows you the “fat burning zone.” If you want to get the best results in the least amount of time possible.
Don’t spend your time in that zone.We want you in the zones that are way above that. Wait, what? Don’t go in the fat burning zone? I know that seems like it doesn’t make sense, but stick with me.
This is one of those things I talked about yesterday. Those “we take a different approach” things.
The higher the intensity of the workout the more calories you burn per minute during your workout. The more energy you burn out…..the easier it is to create a calorie deficit (that that’s code for burning body fat).
Not only do you burn more calories, but your body releases different hormones compared to your cardio workouts in the fat burning zone.
You will get a release of hormones that will help you to boost up your metabolism. This is super important for someone who falls into one of these categories:
These types of workouts are key if you’re serious about getting results. Try something different.
I can’t tell you how many clients over the years have told me their blown away by the results they get with less time invested in exercising.
You are going to be able to really kick start your metabolism and start burning more body fat with these types of workouts. No joke, serious results.
And don’t get me wrong cardio isn’t a bad thing. You just need to know how to perform it properly.
We teach our clients how to do cardio. You can get the same metabolism boosting effect from cardio. If you do that cardio in the right way.
We won’t get into that today, but start with the workout at the bottom and try to get your heart rate around the zone indicated in the image based on your age.
Now, important to note. These are rough guidelines for the heart rate. It will depend on your current level of conditioning, your genetics, your resting heart rate and many other factors.
Make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard and feeling nausea or other negative side effects of exercising too hard.
I don't care how slow your metabolism is. You can boost it up if you perform these types of workouts.
Are you still doing crunches and leg raises to try and target your abs? If so these three exercises are going to completely change how your core functions and looks.
Your abdominal wall can be broken down into two types of core muscles. What is referred to as the inner unit and the outer unit.
Most people when doing different versions of crunch’s or sit-ups they’re working the outer unit.
The problem is that most people never work their inner unit of abdominal muscles.
Part of the job of the inner unit muscles is to hold your stomach flat throughout the day.
Be working the inner unit (which takes some practice) you’ll actually flatten your stomach.
As an example, the picture below the person hasn’t dropped any body fat, but there is a huge difference in the size and look of their stomach.
Even if we have a client who isn’t looking to drop any body weight they will usually reduce their waste size by 1/2 - 3/4 of an inch in the first four weeks just by getting their inner unit functioning properly.
Really important you need to make sure you’re listening carefully to how to properly perform the exercises.
The key is in the same details.
To get the benefit of these exercises you have to make sure you’re feeling the proper muscles working and carefully listening to the details of how to perform the exercise.
Perform these three exercises in a circuit 3-4 times/week.
Perform 3 sets of 1 minute for each exercise.
If you take the time to perform these exercises properly over the next 2-4 weeks you’ll see a reduction in your stomach size from this one thing alone without making any changes to your nutrition.