Let’s get really real folks.
Let me tell you what I know about dieting and achieving those “model bodies” we all want.If you knew the sheer amount of airbrushing, heavy photoshopping, and even carefully contoured body makeup they use to achieve those cover looks—you’d realize NOBODY has those BODIES. Nobody.
Besides that, most models go on super-unhealthy diets before these photo shoots or big television specials (think the Victoria’s Secret Angel’s yearly special with the million-dollar bras). Many of them go on a week to ten-day liquid diet before they step on that runway. We’d all lose 20 pounds fast torturing our bodies like that…
So, they only look like that for a short time. The rest of the time, they look more like you do right now—I bet. More than you even know. But “severe calorie-restriction” diets like that lead all kinds of problems like eating disorders, a broken metabolism, disrupted hormones, low testosterone, raised cortisol from the stress of dieting (which puts on more belly fat that is later that’s very, very hard to lose), social isolation, loss of sex drive, and depression.
Sounds so healthy, right?
So why not try to achieve a body that’s just right for you—but a healthy body??
We can get you lean, yes, but we don’t have to go about it unhealthily.
There are a long, long list of reasons why calorie counting is a flawed method of
So many factors affect the way our body burns calories. For example,
▪ Women can burn more calories at the end of their cycle than at the beginning
▪ Sleep deprivation, not getting that 8 hours a night, can cause you to burn 5-20% less calories a day as well as crave all kinds of unhealthy simple carbohydrates—and exercise less, leading to significant weight gain,
▪ In colder environments, people burn up to 400 more calories a day
▪ The more some people eat, the more calories they burn (think teens) –while yo-yo dieters will have a broken metabolism, that won’t burn nearly as many calories
▪ A single variation in one gene, called the FTO gene, causes some people to burn 160 fewer calories a day than other people
▪ Epigenetics (how our ancestors eating patterns affect us)—for example, in mice, when pregnant mice eat more methyl donors during pregnancy, her offspring burn 5% more calories a day. Scientists are also learning parents who lived through famines have children with slower metabolisms who tend to be overweight (as if their body is shielding itself from a famine)
▪ Not to mention, the methods scientists use to calculate how many calories we burn during a run—from direct calorimetry (having persons exercise in sealed isolation chambers), to the doubly labeled water method, to indirect calorimetry (gas exchange measurements method) are extremely flawed—for example:
− Most “step counters” and fitness trackers have a margin error of at least 10%
− Food companies’ estimates of how many calories are in, say, that bowl of cereal you might have had for breakfast, have a margin error of up to 20%
Have I gotten your attention yet?
Furthermore, and most importantly, your weight and dieting history have a definitive impact on how hard or easy it is for you to lose weight.
In fact, if you’ve been a strict dieter, constantly putting yourself through highly restrictive, low-calorie diets is no way to go.
In fact, It will only further slow down weight loss, throwing your body into a fight-or-flight mode of starvation, where your body will throw itself right back into preservation mode, restricting you from self-damage or self-harm. The body wants to stay alive always. You have to respect that in order to lose weight.
The reason starvation diets don’t work is that your body continues to adapt to that ever lower and lower calorie diet you’re putting yourself on (and have to keep lowering to make weight loss keep happening) and slows down the rate you’re burning calories because it thinks you are starving to death.
Furthermore, because your body thinks its starving to death, you release more stress hormones, chiefly cortisol, which attracts and generates more belly fat.
It’s a lose-lose situation folks.
So, if calorie counting is SO BAD—what should we do instead?
How about we
Forget calorie counting and try this measurement system instead:
Macronutrients and portion
Protein: The size of your palm
Vegetables: The size of your closed fist
Carbohydrates: One hand full
Fats: The size of your thumb
There IS a Right Diet for Everyone: You Just Have to Find It!
Think about this though, for a moment. How much what you think you know about nutrition has been shaped by myths, fads, and trends?
I think, like John Berardi will tell us, that we can eat to lean down or eat to bulk up. But what is most important is that we find a diet that:
Most of all, I believe that each of us is different. Each of our bodies has its own history—dieting, not dieting, having been an athlete, say.
Some of retain that metabolism of a lion throughout our lives because we’ve not dieted at all, while Some of us have the metabolism of a bird because we’ve dieted and dieted and dieted our metabolism into one that is extremely slow and now we have to strive to undo that damage through exercise and a sustained healthy eating plan.
Many of us who used to follow very low-fat diets have not even been manufacturing the kinds of hormones we need to burn fat – because hormones like IGF-1 and GH are made out of — fat (cholesterol).
You can correct a sluggish metabolism through exercise, healthy eating, and regulating your hormones again—I know this—so all you yo-yo dieters and former anorexics and bulimics, do not despair.
Let’s look at some eating plans or diets, if you will, that do work and that are extremely healthy and longevity promoting. One of them will work for you.
You’ll never know until you experiment. But I’ll try to let you know which ones might work for say a voracious versus a slow metabolism as well.
You Might Follow This with Your “Now Customize the Plan for You”
When it comes to specific ways of losing weight and getting the body you want, which for most of us is one low on fat, and high on lean, sculpted muscle, there’s three specific ways of eating I recommend:
▪ The Ketogenic Diet
▪ Intermittent Fasting
▪ The Mediterranean Diet
I believe these are the three healthiest, most longevity-promoting, and most successful weight loss programs in the world.
The ketogenic diet is amazing, folks. You get to literally melt the fat off of your body while you retain lean muscle mass.
The ketogenic diet is a diet where you focus on eating high fat, moderate carbohydrate and low carbs, striving to keep your carbs somewhere between 20 to 50 grams a day (I only recommend 50g a day for very active, hard charging individuals or it may be difficult for you to get into ketosis).
So, what is ketosis?
Ketosis is a state of running the body on your own body fat in the form of ketones. The body begins to manufacture ketones when you lower your carb intake to the point that the body can no longer run on any stored glucose.
Since there’s no glucose (carbs) coming in in the form of simple sugars and refined carbohydrate at that point, the body turns to the fuel our ancestors most likely ran on—ketones (chemical bodies of energy the body manufactures in the absence of carbohydrate).
Ketones are a very clean fuel.
When you’ve adapted to the ketogenic diet, you’ll reap immense benefits such as
▪ Super-charged energy
▪ Enhanced memory
▪ A stabilized appetite, making it easier to diet
▪ A faster, more efficient metabolism, so you lose weight faster
▪ It’s a high-satiety diet, lowering “perceived hunger,” meaning you crave less food, period
▪ Enhanced creativity
▪ Your sleep improves
▪ Your athletic performance improves
▪ Your cognition improves (you get super-quick and more intelligent)
▪ Your mood improves (indeed, many of my clients are able to ditch anti-depressants after being on keto for just a few months).
▪ You become a fat burning machine
▪ Weight loss happens quickly but because you’re stimulating muscle-preserving hormones, you don’t get sagging skin
▪ It’s the most anti-inflammatory diet there is
▪ You can prevent and even reverse type II diabetes
▪ It’s neurogenesis promoting
▪ It is cancer fighting and preventative
▪ It’s beneficial for the mitochondria, the very life force of every cell in your body
In short, you begin to feel kind of like Scarlett Johansson in Lucy—like you’re a superhero who can do anything.
Plus, many already-low-carb-eaters already love the kind of food you eat on the ketogenic diet. If you love meat, eggs, bacon, cheese, and salad with lots of delicious creamy fat-filled dressings or olive-oil rich vinaigrettes—it’s the diet for you.
And why is running on ketones as opposed to glucose healthy? Let me quote Mark Sisson on this:
A high-carbohydrate, high insulin producing diet leads to the Daily fluctuation in energy, appetite, and move; lifelong Insidious accumulation of excess body fat (because you are bad at burning fat and I really good at storing fat, due to Chronic excessive insulin production); a state of chronic inflammation in the body; and why spread cellular damage from glycation. Chronic inflammation, glycation, and oxidative damage are the essence of epidemic disease and accelerated aging in Modern Life (The Keto Reset Diet, p. 37).
But Make It Nutrient-Dense Ketosis
The keto diet is superb as long as you’re doing a healthy form of the keto diet. By healthy I mean—I do not advocate an Atkins-style keto diet of all meat and fats only.
I believe in a nutrient dense ketogenic diet –a diet low on carbohydrate, yes, but heavy on low-glycemic, nutrient-dense vegetables like kale, beet greens, swiss chard and all the bitter, nutrient dense greens and other low glycemic vegetables. These vegetables help you get the nutrients, the vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, and phytonutrients.
Besides being healthy, another reason you need to make sure and get your vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals is because your body uses these nutrients to manufacture the very enzymes and hormones you’ll need to burn fat. The body cannot manufacture these enzymes and fat-burning hormones in the absence of nutrients.
So in the end, what is primary is that you need to remain maximally healthy but keep your carbs low enough for you to enter a state of ketosis—a state where you run on your own body fat for fuel instead of glucose (sugar and carbohydrates).
How Long Does It Take to Get into Ketosis?
Most people use ketone strips or a ketone breath monitor to track when they finally have entered ketosis and to make sure they are staying in ketosis (especially if they slip). Either method is fine.
However, you can also tell you are in ketosis by the way you feel—just as you can definitely feel when you slip. If you slip and eat that birthday cake, you’ll feel worse, not better. When you’re in ketosis you can tell in this one key way: you stop feeling hungry.
Many people are able to go down to one meal a day—combining intermittent fasting with the ketogenic diet to lose MAJOR WEIGHT FAST—and this is a method I highly advocate for anyone dangerously overweight who needs to lose weight fast but healthily.
Now – how long will it take to get into ketosis?? – a state of running on your own fat for fuel?
It depends on what kind of a carb junkie you’ve been throughout your life up until now.
If you’ve lived a long life of living on lots of carbs it can take two to three weeks to get into full on ketosis. I’ve seen strictly paleo eaters (think keto + healthy grains and higher glycemic vegetables like potatoes) get into ketosis in 3 to 4 days).
What Should My Macro Ratios Look Like?
You’ll have to experiment to find the proper ratios of fats to carbs to protein. Be careful with lean proteins! Lean proteins—like snacking on lean turkey all the time—are dangerous in that they too turn to glucose and spike insulin.
So, the body WILL turn these into glucose. So try to eat fattier cuts of meat like beef, bacon, or keep the skin on your turkey and chicken.
Most individuals follow one of the following two macro ratios:
75/15/5: in terms of fats/protein/carbs (this is good for people over 35-40, former strict dieters and models, baby boomers.
Or 65/25/10: in terms of fats/proteins/carbs (this is good for hard chargers, young people and athletes).
Let’s talk about the way to get into ketosis and stay there.
Keep your carbs below 50 grams a day for young, atheletic persons, hard charging individuals who exercise daily, and those who have never dieted with extremely low calorie diets (leaving the metabolism intact). Keep your carbs below 20 to 30 grams a day for those who have dieted a lot throughout life, anyone over 30 to 35 who feels they have a sluggish metabolism, and especially those who spend a lot of time sitting.
The Best Foods to Eat On A Ketogenic Diet to Get Into And Stay in Ketosis:
Fattier Cuts of Beef Perfect for the Keto Diet
Poultry (keep the skin on and bake, braise, grill, or fry it in olive/coconut oil)
▪ Turkey Bacon/Sausage
▪ 100% Pasture Raised, Organic (these are expensive but worth it for the extra DHA/EPA you get)
Dairy (Always grass fed and hormone free)
▪ Full fat cream
▪ Full fat milk
▪ Full fat plain yogurt (flavored yogurt typically has a lot of sugar)
▪ Homemade or Organic Almond milk
▪ Sour cream
▪ Butter (grass-fed)
▪ Heavy whipping cream
▪ All – just no low fat or skim cheeses high in carbs.
Oils and Fats
▪ Pure coconut oil
▪ First cold pressed organic olive oil
▪ Grass fed butter (Like Finlandia or Kerrygold)
▪ Avocado Oil
Ideas for Keto Meals
▪ Omelets with full fat grass fed cheddar, mushrooms, and bacon
▪ Avocado slices on the side
▪ Full fat Greek yogurt
▪ Kale shakes with blue or blackberries and stevia, erythritol , or xylitol (all healthy sweeteners) to add flavor
▪ Eggs of any kind
▪ Eggs Benedict (without the bread base)
Basically – think fatty proteins plus low glycemic fruits and vegetables
▪ Salads with steak, ground chuck, salsa, onions, kale, Swiss chard—mixed bitter greens with mild lettuces like Romaine or Bibb make any salad great.
▪ Homemade soups and stir-fries—absent any noodles or simple carbohydrates
▪ More eggs/omelets!
▪ Steak with sautéed mushrooms and onions in grass fed butter
▪ Chicken breast with the skin on for full fat burning
▪ Low glycemic vegetables of any kind
▪ Low glycemic fruits for dessert like berries
Intermittent fasting is a fantastic tool for taming the beast in all of us. It amps up our self-control, it teaches us self-discipline, and most of all, it’s an immensely healthy way of life that can keep us lean, trim, and help us avoid a long and deadly list of diseases from diabetes to metabolic syndrome to heart disease and, of course, obesity.
So, what is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not really a diet. It’s a super weight loss, weight-maintenance, and self-discipline improving tool.
You can combine it with diets like the ketogenic diet for super-fast weight loss. But you don’t have to. I know clients who have had super results combining intermittent fasting with diets like the Mediterranean Diet as well.
Intermittent fasting is simply a way of eating and not eating to activate fat burning. What you do is try to shrink your feeding window every day, leaving your body in fat burning mode for the other hours of the day when you’re fasting.
First off, it sets off all the fat burning, muscle burning, brain boosting, mood-raising hormones:
− can spike testosterone by 180%
− increases growth hormone 2000% (you can’t even do that with exercise. It only spikes growth hormone by 450%. Growth hormone is THE MAJOR anti-aging hormone and Major Fat -burning hormone
− Increases muscle density
− Increases energy
It’s a super-effective way to lose weight and the benefits for mental, physical, and emotional health are unending:
− By suppressing insulin, which is released every time you eat, you begin to burn off your body’s own fat stores for fuel instead (especially if you combine intermittent fasting with the ketogenic diet)
− Intermittent fasting is a hormetic stressor like exercise, a stressor that actually “stresses” the body in small doses (like exercise) that sets off a process of cellular repair and “bouncing back” and healing that is exceptionally healthy for the body at a cellular level.
− Intermittent fasting is extremely good for the brain—you’ll notice a whole new surge in mental clarity, creativity, and because it’s so neuroprotective, it prevents Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.
− If is extremely anti-inflammatory- and inflammation is the root of all 21st century disease from diabetes to every other autoimmune disease…
− IF is extremely anti-aging. IF helps the body to ramp up production of your biggest fat burning and anti-aging hormone, growth hormone (GH),
− IF also helps you suppress your biggest fat-storing hormone, insulin, which is your biggest fat-storing hormone.,
− If is also longevity-enhancing. It actually helps you age backward, stimulating collagen synthesis and lengthening telomeres, those tendrils on your DNA that actually determine how long you live.
− Intermittent fasting preserves muscle by amping up GH production and suppressing fat storage. So, you lose fat while preserving beautiful, lean muscle.
− IF helps prevent and even reverse diabetes—by suppressing insulin and taming the insulin beast, you’ll never have to worry about diabetes and the whole deadly cascade that follows – metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and, eventually, death.
− IF is wonderful for mood disorders, from ADD to depression.
Besides that—intermittent fasting is good for motivation. It helps you to know you can do anything you set your mind to.
Intermittent Fasting: How
Our ancestors didn’t graze all day. They came upon a food source—say buffalo, and they feasted. Then they roamed. Intermittent fasting is an ancestral eating method in which we eat less often in order to set off mechanisms in the body to help us burn fat.
So how do we do this?
For most people, the answer to all things is – gradually.
I advise my clients who want to lose major weight to simply cut out sugar and eat three healthy meals a day with no snacks—and no unhealthy cancerous eating in between like sodas, artificial sweeteners, etcetera.
Try to step up your eating of low glycemic vegetables (see the end of this chapter) and up your intake of fattier cuts of meat, since lean meats do spike insulin. This is one reason why Atkins fails. If you snack on simply low-fat turkey all day, you’ll spike insulin and throw yourself out of fat burning, plus, you’ll deprive yourself of vitamins and minerals at every turn. Because our ancestors ate this way, our bodies respond extremely well to it. It’s what our bodies are evolved to do.
Two Meals a DayWhen you cut down to two meals a day, in say a 16/8 pattern, you can really lean down the body. Try by pushing breakfast back until noon. If you wake up really hungry—eat when you get up—but put off the next meal until say 8 pm.
16/8 intermittent fasting is simple. To get started, simply pick out your favorite 8 -hour window for eating. If you like lunch and dinner better, fine. If breakfast and lunch, fine. Simply, pick an 8-window that includes your favorite meals!
As long as you do not snack or spike insulin with sugary drinks, you will stay in fat burning mode all the other hours of the day and you’ll lose major weight, proven!
Eventually, you’ll note that you’ll feel less and less hungry for that second meal, even.
The trick is – start adding as much fat as you can to the first meal—and you’ll notice you can go all day without wanting anything else to eat.
Eventually: You’ll Get to One Meal a Day
For those of you who want to lose maximal weight, what you’ll notice with intermittent fasting (again, especially when you combine it with a ketogenic diet) is that you’ll suppress hunger to the point that you don’t want more than one meal a day.
This will leave you in fat burning mode for 23 hours a day. People drop as much as 120 pounds in 6 months this way, believe it or not.
Yet—you preserve muscle by spiking growth hormone (GH).
I find it’s also a wonderful tool for weight maintenance. Say you’ve gained a little weight over the holidays, going down to two meals or one meal a day for just a month can get you back to fighting weight fast.
I cannot recommend more highly for avoiding a long list of 21st century manmade diseases, from diabetes on up, to staying a lean, mean, fighting, beautiful, and happy machine.
My third favorite diet is the Mediterranean Diet. The benefits are immense and some people just cannot live without carbohydrate. It just doesn’t work for them.
For example, I had a client who was a former anorexic who tried to do an Atkins-type diet. She said, “I felt like I couldn’t even lift my left arm. My bones felt like lead.”
The issue was this: She needed that carbohydrate to replenish damage from starving herself of fruits and vegetables for so many years, living only off handfuls of lean turkey for years.
If you feel like high fat-low carb eating isn’t for you, your body might be begging you for the Mediterranean Diet, a diet that’s proven to be extremely longevity promoting in all kinds of ways.
If you haven’t heard of the Blue Zones, those five areas of the world where people tend to live to be beyond 100, up to ages of 110 to 120, they’re all eating a Mediterranean Diet. Think Okinawa, Japan and Ikaria, Greece, for example.
So, What is the Mediterranean Diet and Why is It So Healthy?
The Mediterranean Diet stresses whole, healthy foods from all the food groups – to avoid artificial colorings, flavorings, everything false that might be in your food and to eat a balanced diet of healthy whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins like fish and chicken with only occasional red meats.
It also includes healthy dairy-like full fat Greek yogurt—and lots of nuts and high healthy fats, especially OLIVE OIL.
Berries, too, are key in the Mediterranean diet because the Mediterranean diet, whether it originally intended to be or not (because phytonutrients weren’t known about then), is a phytonutrient rich diet which is not only heart healthy, neurogenesis-promoting, anti-Alzheimer’s, but very anti diabetes and anti-cancer as well.
How to Think Mediterranean
When you think Mediterranean diet think “colorful plate” or “eat the rainbow.”
You’ll want to strive to get lots of red, green, orange, purple, and blue vegetables in there as well as healthy, whole grains, healthy fats like olive or coconut oils, and healthy proteins like fatty fishes, lean proteins and only on occasion, lean red meats.
It’s a diet that stresses nutrient density in every way and that’s what I love about it.
Basically, I believe you have to find what works for you!
Sugar junkies may have to go keto to throw their bodies into a state of weight loss while those that have been going too low fat and too low carb might want to embrace the Mediterranean diet for a while.
Why is The Mediterranean Diet So Healthy?
For now, research points toward the fact that by stressing eating the rainbow—lots of different, richly colored fruits and vegetables—that the diet works because it is supremely rich in superfoods—foods geared to ramp up cellular renewal, to protect the body from free radicals and disease, to fight obesity and metabolic syndrome, and to promote cellular energy production and disease-fighting in every way.
− For example, researchers recently found that people on a Mediterranean diet were less likely to suffer heart attack or stroke than people eating even a low-fat diet. In fact, their risk of cardiovascular events drooped 30%.
− A 2016 study found that eating a Mediterranean diet was associated with a lowered risk of Alzheimer’s, enhanced cognition, enhanced memory, and less cognitive decline. In fact, researchers found it enhanced the brain’s age by five years.
− As far as weight loss and body fat mass are considered, researchers found that in a study of young women, those who followed a Med. Diet had a lower BMI, a smaller waist and thighs than those who did not.
− In studies on depression, the Mediterranean diet has been linked to a lower risk of depression and diseases of the mind of all kinds,
− Because the diet stresses high levels of monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, studies find that practitioners have a lower risk of dementia as well as enhanced cognitive performance.
How to Eat Mediterranean
− Embrace nuts—especially walnuts and almonds. These nuts are full of healthy fats and phytonutrients to keep you maximally mentally and physically healthy.
− Red wine is okay—grape skins are filled with an antioxidant called resveratrol which is immensely healthy—as long as you only drink only one to two glasses a day.
− Fill half your plate with vegetables—the bitterer the better. Bitter vegetables are richer in phytonutrients. Why? The plants defensive mechanisms to ward off animals who want to eat them act as defensive compounds in us.
− Moderation in dairy is key- but eat organic and grass fed in all.
− Moderation is not key in eggs, however. They are still the world’s most perfect food, in my opinion.
− If you were at a buffet, think, “load your plate with fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes and olive oil
− Think “eat the rainbow” – try to eat as many different colored vegetables a week as you can
− Avoid processed foods as far as possible.
− Replace meat with fish like salmon and tuna, which will give you healthy fats like Omega-3-fatty acids.
− Have at least two meals per week that consist of legumes—beans, lentils, chickpeas, black beans, navy beans, peas …
There are endless resources online for Mediterranean meal plans. Some of my favorites are Everyday Health’s Mediterranean Diet Guide and Eating Well’s “30 Days of Mediterranean Dinners.”
In my opinion, for creating a carved, beautiful, and healthy body, as well as preventing disease, obesity, and mental decline, you cannot beat these three eating plans.
What’s important is to find the plans that work for you!
Intermittent fasting is a tool you can apply anytime. The Mediterranean Diet is great for maintenance after you’ve created the body you want. Keto is great for getting from where you are to where you need to be.
Be well and I wish you health and happiness in all you do.