Tag Archives forweight loss

The ONE Thing You Do Every Single Day that Leads to Weight Gain & Fatigue

Weight gain is no just a simple mathematical equation. Even though our current knowledge of weight loss is starting to shift, many people are still stuck on the calories in calories out method. Research has clearly shown that this method does not work. And even worse, it will likely lead to more weight gain in the long term. 

You might have experienced this before. You can lose weight. That’s no problem. But over time the weight creeps back on and sometimes you end up gaining even more weight then you originally started with. What a bummer!

If you are gaining weight despite eating a healthy diet and doing regular exercise, it’s not because you are lazy or incapable.

Make me a promise. STOP beating yourself up over this. When we are unable to lose weight, we often feel like a failure. What many women don’t realize is that there are multiple factors involves in weight loss. It is NOT a simple mathematical equation. Your body’s ability to lose fat or gain fat is dependent on several metabolic processes, the food we eat, the type of exercise we do AND the type of environment we live in. 

Did you know you can improve your ability to lose weight simple by shifting your environment. This is what I want to discuss with you today; a way that your actions might be negatively influencing your environment and causing you to gain weight. 

You might be unknowingly sabotaging your weight loss efforts. There is one thing that women do every single day that almost always leads to more pounds. A simple change can increase you ability to lose weight AND dramatically improve you energy levels. I will tell you all about it in the video below.


3 Ways to Tell if Your Thyroid is Sluggish

Thyroid dysfunction is on the rise. It affects women significantly more than it affects men. Many women have thyroid dysfunction but they have no idea! Why?


Lab ranges for thyroid markers have gotten wider and wider over the years. The most common thyroid marker, TSH, has a reference range of 0.5 – 5.0 but women with results over 2.0 generally have thyroid symptoms. As a result, many women are told that their lab tests look normal and their thyroid is fine. The result is they struggle with fatigue, weight gain and digestive issues. They may be told to reduce stress or be prescribed an anti-depressant instead. 


Your thyroid plays a role in nearly every single metabolic process. The bottom line is if your thyroid is not functioning as it should, you won’t feel well!


Shaped like a butterfly, it lies low on the front of the neck and below your Adam’s apple and in front of the windpipe. When the thyroid is its normal size, you don’t even notice it. It secretes several hormones, called thyroid hormones. The main hormone is thyroxine, also called T4, but there are others, including T3 and even lesser known T1 and T2.


The thyroid gland needs adequate selenium, iodine, zinc, B vitamins and antioxidants for optimal function. Unfortunately, many of these nutrients are deficient in the foods we eat. Additionally, the thyroid is incredibly sensitive to inflammatory foods and environmental toxins. Because of this thyroid disorders are on the rise


Hypothyroid, which involves low thyroid function, is incredibly common, affecting as many as 23% of Americans with 80% of those being women. But few of these people are actually getting treated for the condition due to the issues I mentioned above.


Wide lab ranges and lack of knowledge leads to this condition being severely under diagnosed. Your numbers have to get pretty bad before they are detected as “out of range” by conventional lab tests.  At this point, a women might be given a prescription for synthetic thyroid hormones. But in many cases the drug doesn’t actually fix the issue and women continue to struggle with thyroid dysfunction. 


You might suspect you have a thyroid problem but your health practitioner has told you that everything looks fine. Let’s discuss three different ways you can determine if you thyroid isn’t working


1. Symptoms


An underactive thyroid tends to produce very specific symptoms. If your thyrois is sluggish, you are likely experiencing several of the symptoms below.


Keep in mind that these tips are not meant to diagnose your thyroid condition. Rather, they are meant to give you some insight into your thyroid health which can help you seek a licensed health practitioner who can legally diagnosed you. 


  1. Fatigue
  2. Cold hands and feet
  3. Constipation
  4. Dry skin
  5. Unexplained weight gain
  6. Puffy face
  7. Hoarseness
  8. Muscle weakness
  9. Muscle aches and pain
  10. Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  11. Heavy or irregular menstrual periods
  12. Thinning hair
  13. Slower heart rate
  14. Depressed mood
  15. Impaired memory


It is usually the experience of these symptoms that leads a women to suspect her thyroid as the cause of her pain. But actually getting diagnosed with hypothyroid can be an ongoing struggle. The good news is there is a simple at home test that can give you some very valuable information into your thyroid function.


Make sure to grab my Cheat Sheet for this post. I’ve included all the important pieces of this post to help you determine if you might have a thyroid issue. You can grab that here!


2. Body Temperature Test


Since the thyroid regulates the metabolism, body temperature can be a good indication of whether the metabolism is fast or slow. Like a fast running engine, when metabolism is high, body temperature should be high as well. Conversely, when metabolism is slow, body temperature is lower then normal.


You can go out an purchase an inexpensive digital thermometer. As soon as you wake up in the morning, you can take your temperature under your arm pit. Make sure to do this before you get up or you might skew the results.


A normal waking body temperature is between 97.8 and 98.2 degrees farenheight. Anything less than this indicates a possible thyroid issue. If you are below 96 degrees then a thyroid problem is likely.


If you want a cheat sheet of this blog post with all the thyroid temperatures and functional reference ranges for thyroid function, download that here.


The only way to confirm hypothyroid is with blood testing. But you need more than a single TSH marker, you need to the entire panel. 


3. Comprehensive Thyroid Panel


If you have an open minded doctor or work with a functional doctor then it should be no problem to ask for a full thyroid panel. You can come equipped with your list of symptoms and that super low waking body temperature that you have been tracking for the past week.

Most doctors will only run Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) but this maker alone gives little information about the thyroid. It is actually not a thyroid hormones but rather a pituitary hormone. You will also need to request free T3, free T4 and TPO antibodies at an absolute minimum. If you reside in Canada, this might be all you are able to get.


If you reside in the US, then you can also request additional markers like total T4, T3 uptake, TGB antibodies, TSI antibodies and reverse T3.


As I mentioned before, lab ranges are wide and your numbers have to get pretty bad before your result will get flagged out of the range. For this reason, it is important to work with functional lab ranges. These ranges are more narrow and more associated with healthy thyroid function.


For example the normal TSH range is 0.5-5.0 but the functional range is 0.5-2.0. If you are above 2.0 then you might have what’s called subclinical hypothyroid. This means that it isn’t bad enough to be recognized as a diagnosis but you still have the thyroid symptoms listed above. Subclinical hypothyroid still needs to be addressed in order for you to get well. 


If you want to a list of the functional lab ranges for each of these markers, make sure to download my Sluggish Thyroid Cheat Sheet. You can do that here.


Final Thoughts


If you have all the typical thyroid symptoms and have a low waking body temperature, there is a good chance your thyroid is sluggish. It is important to obtain a comprehensive thyroid blood test in order to confirm your suspicions. If your results fall outside of the functional ranges, it is important to find a health practitioner who can help you treat your subclinical hypothyroid.


Letting a thyroid issue go untreated can lead to chronic, unrelenting fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues and obesity. Natural thyroid balancing has the opposite effect. It can boost your energy, clear your head, improve digestive health and help you lose that extra weight.


To discuss your personal thyroid health in more detail and to see if my hormone balancing program is a fit for you, please book a FREE 30 minute call with me.


5 Benefits of Coffee Enemas

Many people have recently begun utilizing enemas to improve their overall health. Over a period of many years, excess waste that hasn’t been eliminated can build up inside of your colon. In fact, anecdotal reports say that as much as 10 pounds of waste may accumulate in your body at one time. That’s a lot of excess baggage you don’t want to be carrying around.


When you perform a cleanse with an enema, it helps to remove toxic build-up, which will in turn provide immediate health benefits and relief from certain conditions.


There are many different ways to perform an enema, but today we will be focusing on one of the more ‘taboo methods’—the coffee enema.


If you are new to the idea of enemas, the use of coffee may shock you. However, it can indeed help detoxify your body and remove the excess waste that could be accumulating within your body.


5 Benefits of Coffee Enemas


Coffee enemas can prevent the overgrowth of Candida.


Overgrowth of the Candida albicans fungus inside your intestines can cause a wide range of unpleasant symptoms, from fatigue, to brain fog, to a weakened immune system.


However, you should be happy to note that a coffee enema may help prevent the overgrowth of Candida, along with other bad bacteria. (1)


Coffee enemas can help detoxify your liver and bloodstream.


A coffee enema is a great way to detoxify your liver and bloodstream. Symptoms such as bloating, stomach aches, and intestinal disturbances can usually be traced back to an overworked liver.


When performing a coffee enema, the coffee is absorbed into the liver through the intestinal wall where it helps to take on some of that toxic load that the liver is unable to process on it’s own. (2)


Exposure to environmental toxins cannot be avoided, but there are ways to mitigate the potential damages that result from excessive exposure. Detoxes help tremendously with this, as do proper nutrition and regular exercise.


Coffee enemas can promote better digestion and regularity.


A coffee enema can help to improve the flow of bile. (3) This helps to alkalinize your small intestines, which promotes better overall digestion.


When food that you consume is not properly digested, it can generate toxic chemicals within your intestines. These toxins are then absorbed by your liver. Utilizing a coffee enema not only helps your liver with this load, but it also will improve your digestion to make it so your liver doesn’t have to work so hard in the first place.


Coffee enemas may help relieve anxiety and provide mental clarity.


Coffee is well known for its antioxidant properties. Many people who perform a coffee enema report a feeling of increased wellbeing and mental clarity, which also helps to provide relief for anxiety. The colon and liver are both parasympathetic organs, which have been shown play a role in anxiety disorders (4), meaning the cleanse from the enema helps to promote overall relaxation within your nervous system which helps ease anxiety symptoms.


Coffee enemas can help regulate hormones and restore balance to your endocrine system.


Your liver actually plays a very important role in the metabolism of hormones within your body. (5) Estrogen toxicity can actually develop from too much of the wrong type of estrogen accumulating within the liver. This can lead into a wide range of health issues for women, not least of all being a decreased ability to detoxify carcinogens. (6)


When you use a coffee enema with the intent of detoxifying your liver, an added benefit is the removal of these “bad” estrogen hormones that get flushed out as well. This helps to maintain proper hormonal balance for women.


Hormonal imbalances can also cause a wide range of symptoms such as fatigue, depression, low energy levels, and infertility.


Potential Side Effects


Coffee enemas can provide several great benefits for your health, with little to no side effects. Most of the unpleasant side effects can be negated by drinking plenty of fluids and staying properly hydrated. Once you have performed the enema, you expel a multitude of toxins and some water and electrolytes along with it.


Is A Coffee Enema Right for You?


If you’re looking for a natural way to detoxify your body, a coffee enema is a good place to start. Other measures to consider include evaluation of your gut bacteria and incorporating some physical activity in your routine.


The Final Word


You don’t have to wait until you exhibit symptoms of illness before performing a coffee enema. Preventive measures are always better than having to find a cure, so be proactive in protecting your health and wellbeing. Your body will thank you.


Always check with your doctor if you’re unsure about the effects of a coffee enema on your body, and whether or not it is right for you.



Testosterone Metabolism – Why You Have Symptoms of High Testosterone When Your Lab Tests Are Normal


The past few weeks on the blog, I have been writing about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a condition that causes weight gain, infertility, facial hair growth, acne and irregular menstrual cycles.


If you want to learn more about this condition and its risk factors, you can read the full article here. I also recently wrote about the PCOS diet, lifestyle and supplement protocol that can help you reverse this condition and boost your fertility. You can read that article here.


PCOS is generally characterized by elevated testosterone, irregular or absent cycles and cystic ovaries. But there are many women out there who have regular cycles and no ovarian cysts but are struggling with symptoms of high testosterone.


If you know your testosterone is elevated but you don’t have a PCOS diagnosis, you can still benefit from following the PCOS protocol. But what if your testosterone is “normal” and you are still struggling with the typical symptoms of testosterone dominance? These include;


  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Loss of scalp hair
  • Excessive facial & body hair growth
  • Acne
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Deepening voice


This is an interesting thing. It is possible to have normal or even lower testosterone but also have a testosterone dominance.

How is this possible?

Today I want to talk about testosterone metabolism. If your testosterone appears normal on a saliva or blood test but you still have these typical symptoms of too much testosterone than your metabolism may be to blame.


Let’s start at the top. Pregnenolone is your master hormone. It is the building block for all your other steroid sex hormones including progesterone, cortisol, estrogen, DHEA and testosterone.


pathways photo


Pregnenolone is derived primarily from cholesterol. Yep, remember cholesterol? The big bad cholesterol that clogs your arteries and gives you heart disease?


What the government and general public are finally starting to learn is that cholesterol is crucial, not only for hormone production but also for the health of your brain.


Without cholesterol you cannot make sex hormones. And without sex hormones you are in trouble. 75% of your body’s cholesterol is produced in your liver but 25% comes from your diet. Therefore, getting enough cholesterol in your diet is crucial to your hormones. Cholesterol comes from animal products.


Pregnenolone can be converted into progesterone which can then be broken down to produce cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone. Pregnenolone is also a precursor for Dehyroepiandrosterone (DHEA). DHEA can then be broken down into either testosterone or estrone. Estrone can then be converted to estradiol (your body’s most potent estrogen) which can be converted to estriol.


But hormone metabolism doesn’t stop there. Both testosterone and estrogen are broken down further into metabolites. Today we will focus on the main metabolites of testosterone and what this means for you and your hormone health.


After testosterone is formed, it can be broken down via two different pathways; the alpha pathway and the beta pathway. The beta pathway, also called the Etiocholanolone metabolite, is a less androgenic pathway. This means that when you metabolize your testosterone down this pathway, it reduces the effects of testosterone.


In this case, you could have high blood or saliva testosterone but if you push primarily down the beta pathway than you may not exhibit any symptoms of high testosterone.


The alpha pathway, also know as the dehyrotestosterone (DHT) pathway, is a significantly more androgenic pathway. This means that if you tend to metabolize more of your testosterone down the DHT pathway then actions of testosterone become increasingly stronger in your system.


This is because DHT metabolites bind about 3 times more strongly to androgen receptors than Etiocholanolone metabolites. 5 alpha reductase is the enzyme that pushes the conversion of testosterone into DHT. Everyone will push some testosterone down the DHT pathway but some people push significantly more of their testosterone in this direction meaning that their testosterone becomes extra potent.


What this means for you is that you may have “normal” or even lower testosterone that becomes increasingly potent as it is being metabolized. This is why your testosterone may look normal but your symptoms tell you otherwise.

What Would Someone Prefer the DHT Pathway?

There is usually an insulin issue at play. Insulin, the hormone needed to regulate blood sugar and fat storage, enhances the actions of the DHT pathway. The more insulin you have, the more 5-alpha reductase you have (the enzyme that pushes DHT production). Women with acne, PCOS and obesity have significantly more 5-alpha reductase than women without these issues.


Managing your blood sugar and reducing excess insulin are key to reducing DHT activity. Again, you can learn more about insulin resistance and what to do about it in this article and this article.


Progesterone, on the other hand, reduces 5 alpha reductase activity, at least in vitro, according to this study. Often times when I see elevated DHT metabolites in a client, I also see depleted progesterone levels.


Being aware of the DHT pathway is especially important for those struggling with infertility (elevated testosterone is a huge cause of infertility in the Western world), acne and obesity.

Testing for DHT

If this article resonates with you and some of your recent experience, I recommend getting your testosterone metabolism evaluated. You can do this by getting a urine hormone panel. The best hormone panel that I currently run is the Precision Analytical Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones (DUTCH). This test will not only evaluate your testosterone metabolism but also the metabolism of your other steroid hormones including; progesterone, estrogen and cortisol.


If you are interested in getting a full hormone evaluation to get to the bottom of your ongoing infertility, painful acne breakouts, explainable scalp hair loss or your complete inability to lose weight, please schedule a FREE 30 minute consultation with me. You can do that here and choose the service labeled, “FREE Discovery Session.”

How to Decrease 5-alpha Reductase Activity

Blood Sugar Management. I feel like a broken record here but having healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day is not only important for your testosterone metabolism but is crucial for your health in every other way.


The Paleo Diet is a fantastic way to manage blood sugar. You should also consider buying a glucometer and actively checking your blood sugar throughout the day.


Before meals, your glucometer should ready 80-90 mg/dl. If it is lower than this, you waited to long to eat that meal or didn’t eat enough at your previous meal. Add more whole foods or include an extra snack.


The post-prandial measurement is a fantastic way to assess your carbohydrate sensitivity. If you are carb sensitive, the more carbs you eat, the more you increase your insulin and make it more likely have a testosterone metabolism issue. 2 hours after a meal, your blood sugar should be under 120 mg/dl (but ideally under 100 mg/dl). If you are above this, you ate way too many carbohydrates or sugar at that previous meal and you need to reduce accordingly.


EPA & DHA. These are fatty acids that come from Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. These come from cold water fatty fish and shellfish. I recommend supplementing with a high quality fish oil supplement derived from mackerel, sardines and/or anchovies. EPA and DHA have a positive effect on insulin and also reduce inflammation which can push up blood sugar levels.


Saw Palmetto. This herb can have potent effects on the DHT pathway. It effectively shifts metabolism from the alpha to beta pathway. Be wary that higher doses of saw palmetto can reduce DHT too much and throw of your testosterone levels. If you are using saw palmetto, you should be monitoring your levels regularly.


Exercise. Exercise is known to increase sensitivity to insulin. When your cells are insulin sensitive, you need less insulin. Less insulin has a positive effect on DHT.


Nettle. Stinging nettle tea increases Sex Hormone Binding Globulin in your blood. This can bind to excess testosterone and decrease the levels of testosterone that need to be metabolized, and thus reducing the effects of DHT.


Zinc. According to this study which was performed on human skin in vitro, zinc can have a reducing effect on 5-alpha reductase when used in combination with Vitamin B6. This is promising but there has been some conflicting research. Clinically, I see Zinc boost testosterone production and improve metabolism.

Final Thoughts

Looking at single hormone markers can be helpful but never gives you the full picture of what is happening. Just because your testosterone is “normal,” does not mean you are in the clear from the potent side effects of too much testosterone. If you are suffering from the symptoms elevated above but your doctor says your levels are “normal,” consider your metabolism. Click here to schedule a free meeting with me to see if comprehensive hormone testing is a fit for you.


Are you struggling with testosterone dominance or any of the symptoms mentioned above? Please feel free to comment with your experience below.





Magnesium Deficiency – The Deficiency That Can Cause Anxiety, PCOS, Abnormal Heart Rhythms, Obesity & More.


Did you know that magnesium can help every cell cell in your body function better, boost serotonin, reduce symptoms of PMS, improve your stress management skills, help you get more sleep, and do all this without side effects?


Magnesium is amazing!


What Is Magnesium?


Magnesium is often referred to as the most crucial mineral in our bodies. It is your body’s most potent relaxant. It has been well researched and proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality, reduce migraine headaches, improve energy levels, increase insulin sensitivity and enhance daily performance.


Did you know that when pregnant women are having seizures, doctors inject them with magnesium sulfate to stop the seizure? That is how powerful magnesium is.


Magnesium is crucial for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, yet experts have estimated that up to 80% of the population is deficient in this essential mineral.


Magnesium deficiency has been linked to a number of symptoms.


11 Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

  1. Anxiety
  2. Depression
  3. Anorexia
  4. High Cholesterol
  5. High Blood Pressure
  6. Obesity
  7. Insulin Resistance
  8. Hypoglycemia
  9. Diabetes
  10. PCOS
  11. Infertility
  12. Muscle spasms
  13. Seizures
  14. Migraine headaches
  15. Heart abnormalities
  16. Poor sleep


The main job of magnesium is to produce energy within our cells. That means that every single function, thought and action is completely dependent on magnesium. With levels of deficiency so high, we need to contemplate our magnesium consumption and make sure we are getting enough.


How Can Magnesium Support Healthy Hormones?


  • Cortisol Regulation – By calming the nervous system, magnesium prevents the production of excess cortisol. Too much cortisol can cause weight gain, insulin resistance and immune system suppression.
  • Blood Sugar Balancing – Magnesium helps regulate insulin production. When insulin levels are out of whack, you have sugar cravings and struggle to keep weight off. Having stable blood sugar levels is also crucial for preventing diabetes and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
  • Thyroid Support – Magnesium aids in the production of thyroid hormone. Thyroid is crucial for regulating metabolism and keeping you energized.
  • Sleeping – Healthy magnesium levels help you get to sleep and stay asleep. It can also prevent chronic urination which can disrupt sleep.
  • Hormone Creation – Magnesium actually makes progesterone, estrogen and testosterone. If you are going through menopause or just recently stopped taking the pill, boost your magnesium consumption.


What Causes Magnesium Deficiency?


Firstly, understanding what contributes to magnesium deficiency can help you assess your risk of deficiency.


Chronic Stress


Magnesium is burned quickly by the body to buffer and alleviate the physical symptoms of stress. It soothes the muscles and calms nerve impulses.


Since it is a water soluble mineral, it is easily flushed out of the body. If you are chronically stressed than there is a good chance that your magnesium levels are less than optimal. It’s important to be mindful of your stress levels and increase your magnesium intake during these times.


My favorite way to increase magnesium is by rubbing magnesium oil on my belly and feet. You can purchase this inexpensively at a natural foods store. Check out the Back to Eeden style of gardening. I just love this!


Sugars And Refined Foods


Magnesium is used by the body to breakdown sugar. This means the more you consume sugar and refined foods, the more you deplete your magnesium stores.


One of the easiest ways to improve your magnesium profile is to cut down on sugar and eliminate refined foods from your diet.


Vitamin D & K2 Deficiency


Vitamin D and K are crucial for sufficient magnesium levels. If you are low in either of these vitamins, your magnesium levels will suffer.


I recommend having your vitamin D levels tested to assess the need for supplementation. Request a 25(OH)D test. The Vitamin D Council recommends levels of 50 ng/ml for optimal health. You can request a test from your doctor or order one directly through ZRT Labs


If you do decide to supplement with vitamin D, make sure to purchase a liquid D3/K2 combo. Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation 14–18 years 410 mg 360 mg 400 mg 360 mg 19–30 years 400 mg 310 mg 350 mg 310 mg 31–50 years 420 mg 320 mg 360 mg 320 mg 51+ years 420 mg 320 mg    


How to Supplement?


All forms of magnesium are not made equally. Oral supplementation is not the best way to get magnesium as up 60% is lost in the GI tract, even with the best absorbed forms.


My favorite forms are magnesium gyclinate or magnesium bisgyclinate. The cheapest forms of magnesium are the magnesium oxides. These are poorly absorbed and can often cause diarrhea. The best way to get magnesium is through the skin. I recommend magnesium oil or Epsom salts baths (or foot baths if you don’t have a bath tub or live in an area with water restrictions).


And if you live near the ocean, get in the sea!


Final Thoughts


Getting enough magnesium and protecting your body’s stores of it is an extremely powerful way to enhance your health and your life.


If you have been struggling with muscle twitches/spasms/contractions, seizures, anxiousness, abnormal heart rhythms, numbness and tingling or poor sleep, then give magnesium a try. It may be just what you need to get back on track.

Stop Counting Calories! – Rethinking the Calories-in, Calories-out Model

If you want to be healthy, you need to be fit. To achieve this, you need to pay special attention to the amount of calories you are consuming. Unless you want to be a huge monstrosity of a human being, then you need to absolutely make sure you are always at least taking the same amount of calories in as you are putting out or less.


This is what most weightloss and fitness programs have revolved around for the past 50 years. As long as you burn more calories then you are consuming, or you eat less calories than you are burning, you will lose weight.


This all sounds pretty depressing to me.


It kinda sounds like obsessing over counting calories is necessary. Or I am doomed to constantly be hungry forever and ever and ever and ever and ever…..


Obesity is on the rise in North America. In Canada, there are 13.5 million adults (over the age of 18) who are overweight. This is up 1 million people in only 4 years.


Most people who are trying to lose weight are on vigorous exercise programs; doing cardio up for 4 hours a day and eating as little as 1400 calories a day. Sure some of these people experience success and drop a substantial amount of weight. But how many of them actually keep it off? Apparently 1 in 100 people who lose weight actually keep off the weight.


As a teenager and young adult, I was always trying to lose weight. I was always trying to eat less and exercise more. I thought that was the only way to be skinny. And to be honest my weight yo yo-ed, a lot. I would be really good for a while but in the end I would always fall off of the wagon because I was just so frikin hungry.




I remember one time thinking to myself, “Is this the way it is? Damn you nature and your cruel cruel ways!” I really wished I could just eat the damn food.


Well these days I think differently. I no longer buy into this calories in/calories out model of weight loss and health for that matter. I  believe that society’s strong belief in this model is one of the main reasons woman are so malnourished. Too much attention is paid to the quantity of calories consumed rather than the quality.


Let me put this into perspective a little bit. Let’s say you are a 20 year old female and by the time you are 40, you gain 40 pounds, making you overweight or obese. How many extra calories a day would you need to eat in order to gain those 40 pounds in 20 years.


So to gain one pound of fat it is said that you need to consume 3,500 calories. So to gain 40 pounds you need to eat 140,000 calories extra over 20 years. That equals 19.2 extra calories a day.


This is ridiculous. You better measure every single little calorie cause just an extra 20 calories a day could push you into obesity. 20 calories a day is equivalent to eating one extra bit of an apple a day. Something is wrong here.


How many people do you know who are always trying to lose weight. They are constantly restricting, and constantly exercising and their weight loss is minuscule. And what about your buddy who just eats and eats and eats and never gains any weight. If this model were true in every case then your first friend would be skinny and your second friend would be overweight.


Remember the definition of insanity? Trying the same thing over and over but expecting different results? Hmmmm


The calories in calories out model is based on the first law of thermodynamics;

  1. In a thermodynamic process, the increment of internal energy of a system is equal to the increment of the heat supplied to that system, minus the increment of work done by that system on its surroundings.


Most people simplify this to “Energy is neither created or destroyed.”


This law is true. I am no opposing the laws of thermodynamics.


What I do not agree with is that the body is a perfect thermodynamic process, with no other variables involved.


This model assumes that calories can only ever be burned or stored. And if a calorie is in fact stored, than it can only be stored as fat. I disagree. As humans, we have three different categories of things we can eat; carbohydrates, fats and proteins. This model may work for carbohydrates. They are either immediately burned for energy (as ATP) or they are stored as glycogen. But what about fats and proteins? The same is not true as they have many other functions in the body.


Proteins may be used to regenerate tissue or build muscle. Fats are used to insulate cells, are used as building blocks for hormones, support neurons and lubricate the joints. Fats and proteins are special because they can be burned as fuel, made into something new or used as structural support.


We should not assume that calories are all created equally. A calorie from a piece of grass-fed organic beef is much different than a calorie from a can of coke. Different calories from different sources affect us differently. Different macro nutrients go through different pathways in the body


For example fructose from the coke is mostly digested in your mouth and then heads to the liver where is can be burned as glucose, stored as glycogen or converted to triglycerides.


The protein from beef is digested in your stomach and will require as much as 40% of those calories just for digestion. The protein is broken down into amino acids which can be used in tissue building or processes in the brain.


Another problem with this model is it does not account for individual metabolic rate. Although, a human’s metabolism is meant to fall in a small range (basal body temperature ranging from 97.8-98.2 F), most of us are actually colder. If you have a high metabolism, you use calories at a much faster rate than someone with a low metabolism.


What about the starvation response?


The term starvation response or starvation mode is generally misleading. If you type this into google, you won’t find much except many blogs claiming to debunk it as a myth. This term is a lay person term. The scientific term is adaptive thermogenesis.


The starvation response is a set of biological and physiological changes that reduce metabolism in response to periods of starvation.


All animals in nature experience feast and famine. The starvation response is a integral part of survival in times when food is lacking. An animals internal system basically slows down in order to prolong the periods in which energy reserves can be used for metabolism. Of course, all animals need this for survival.


Some of you might think of the Minnesota study to disprove starvation mode. This study used 36 men and gave them 1,500 calories a day over a period of 6 months. The men did indeed experience a drastic reduction in metabolic rate but they did also continue to lose body fat.


But some other interesting things did happen as well. While the participants did continue to lose weight, once their metabolic rate slowed so did the rate at which they began to lose weight.


The men also suffered intense psychological consequences including hysteria, depression, hypochondriasis. One participant amputated three of his own fingers with an axe. All participants noted emotional distress, decline in concentration, loss of sexual interest, social withdrawl. Some participants experiences edema of their extremities. All participants experiences a pre-occupation with food, similar to an individual struggling with an eating disorder .


So according to this you can indeed starve yourself and lose weight. Of course, you must do this at the expense of your health, mental well-being and possibly your fingers.


What are the longer term consequences of constantly reducing your metabolic rate? This is something that needs to be considered. In the past I have restricted calories and in fact lost weight but I was very hungry, had intense cravings, felt exhausted and in the end I always gained the weight back, plus more. As I continued to attempt to lose weight the same way in the future, it became harder and harder to do so.


Millions of other people are having the exact same experience. So maybe this study shows that it is in fact possible to starve yourself and lose weight, but it also clearly shows that it is not a safe thing to do.


Do you ever watch the Biggest Loser? Those participants are put on a low calorie diet (1500 calories a day) and perform intense, long duration exercise. I recall hearing that they are in a 3,500 calorie a day deficiency. We always see these people at the end of their weight loss, all skinny and happy. But what about a year down the line? Are they still skinny?


Another thing to note is that participants experienced a preoccupation with food. All deprivation diets will cause this and eventually you will binge. Because the truth is you are not actually starving, there is food everywhere and your biological urge for nourishment will take over. When your biology shuts down impulse control, no amount of willpower can prevent binging.


Studies noting the adaptive thermogenesis phenonmenon have been around since 1902 when German Scientist, Neumann, coined the term “luxus consumption” to describe the adaptive increase in energy expenditure in response to overfeeding.


Many recent studies have measured and confirmed the existence of adaptive thermogenesis


A common misconception is that once you are in a state of stavation, you will cease losing weight or in fact gain weight. This is not always true of course. We can look at starving children in Africa to know this. The point is a calorie restricted diet will affect your metabolic rate, your ability to lose weight in the future and make your cravings do intense, you just can’t resist.


Your body is a system that seeks equilibrium. If you have been around a certain weight your whole life, this is what your body believes to be normal. This is called your weight set-point. Starving yourself for weight loss may cause you to lose pounds but your body will strive to get you back to normal. This explains why almost everyone who loses weight this way eventually gains it back.


And what about how calories from different macronutrients affect your appetite?


Carbohydrates are digested quickly and will have immediate affects on your blood sugar. Processed or refined carbohydrates will cause a quick spike in your blood sugar and then a quick drop causing you to be hungry almost immediately. Starches, from root vegetables, will do the same but at a slower rate.


Protein and fat is absorbed very slowly and will not have the same effect on your blood sugar. In fact, these macronutrients will stabilize your blood sugar and cause you to be full for much longer.


In this study, there is a low-carb and low-fat group. The low-fat group is calorie restricted, and the low-carb group is allowed to eat to fullness. It shows that the low-carb group experiences significantly more weight loss eating to fullness than the low-fat calorie restricted group.


Why Do We Still Believe This Craziness?


Well, I’m sure it doesn’t help when the well respected, Time Magazine, publishes an like this one in 2012. The title, “It’s the Calories, Stupid: Weight Gain Depends on How Much – Not What – You Eat.


Well, Time Magazine, I think you’re stupid too considering you completely misinterpreted the results of this study and reported it to a world of overweight and obese people who are literally starving themselves and destroying their metabolism using this method.


The article was based on this study, which aimed to look at how over consuming different protein diets affected total weight gain and lean body mass. All protein diets contained the same amount of calories but varying amount of protein. Low, medium and high.


Check out this figure pulled directly from the report;

study graph


It says that the low protein diet gained less weight (due to less muscle mass) than the other two diets, even though the calories were the same. All calorie intakes were identical but participants gained unequal amounts of weight.


I have no idea where Sora Song, editor of Time Magazine, is coming from. These results completely disprove the title of her article. Stupid.


I could ramble on about this stuff for days and days but I am sure many of you are wondering what you actually need to do to lose weight.


First keep in mind that calories do matter. It matters where your calories comes from. Think about quality, not quantity.


Choose real food. Get rid of the nasty processed, refined, artificial food.


Maybe consider a lower carbohydrate diet since it is the only macro nutrient in which calories-in, calories-out may actually apply to. Any weight loss diet should always cut out sugar and refined carbohydrates.


Eat a diet rich is healthy fats (butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, lard, tallow, olive oil) and lots of high quality pasture raised protein. It will keep you full for longer and be well used in your body.


Eat to appetite. Overeating is never good for you. If you have problems with overeating then you should look at what you eat and how it affects your future hunger. Refined sugar will make you crave more sugar. Anything that spikes you blood sugar will make you hungry faster.


Exercise but don’t go crazy. Focus on long walks, sprints, jogs, yoga, swimming or anything that makes you happy while you are doing it. If exercise makes you miserable, then I doubt it will have much positive affects. Do things that are fun.


Stop counting calories. Most food labels are out on calories by as much as 20%. Who cares how many calories is in your avocado. That avocado is good for you and is going to do amazing things in your body. Eat that avocado!


Are you in a metabolic rut?


You can determine this by taking your morning body temperature. You should be within the 97.8-98.2F range. If not than are struggling from a slow metabolism which means you will struggle to lose weight. Continuing to restrict calories in a metabolic rut will damage your thyroid. I recommend checking out Matt Stone’s blog, www.180degreehealth.com and maybe consider reading his book, Diet Recovery. It’s a crazy program but has helped many people get out of the metabolic rut and into weight loss by rebooting the metabolism.


Take Home Message


Just because your weight falls within a healthy range does not mean you are healthy. And saying that your weight is simply a measure of calories is an insane oversimplification. Focus on health, not weight and your body will find it’s balance naturally and keep it that way long term.