After I made a Facebook post this week to my team page, I decided to expand on it and create a blog post. If you aren’t following me on Facebook I would love if you did so I can follow you as well. My Facebook is HERE. The reason I made this post is because I wanted to personally clarify something- when we say you don’t need expensive foods or weight loss products to lose weight we are not saying anything negative about any product or that you should or should not use it. The point we (Eric and I) are trying to make is that you don’t need to max out your credit card to see results. Eric and I have strong opinions toward this as we hate seeing people purchase expensive things without an educated decision taking place. They often think these items will be the key to success and do not understand how weight loss products, fat burners, meal replacement shakes, meal replacement bars fit into a weight loss program. We don’t like seeing people purchase blindly and have false expectations and we especially don’t like when someone has no idea how to eat “regular” food to reach their goals. Sometimes with the nastiest messages come the best ideas for blog posts so here it is….
I understand why the idea of a quick fix taking very little effort is appealing. The concept of ordering a product and not having to count calories or exercise sounds great in this day and age of very little spare time. The weight loss industry in the United States makes 20 billion dollars each year. I want to explain to you where supplements and products fit into your dieting goals and how to not be duped into buying one thing after another. With this knowledge, you can make educated choices about what you prefer to spend your money on and if you don’t have the money to buy extra products you will see reasons why that is absolutely ok and does not condemn you to a life of more body fat than you wish to carry.
When I first started my fitness journey I was about 7 years old and starting soccer. Even then there was Gatorade gum, items promising extra energy and amazing performance. In high school, I continued with team sports and there were protein bars, low fat this and reduced fat that. In college, my friends and I tried meal replacement shakes. I always was a healthy weight until I gained the typical 15 college pounds. I was really upset. I started using Lean Cuisines, Weight Watchers meals and snacks, Baked Lays. Some of these items are pricey. I wish I would have understood why these items worked when they did and how to use the foods I was accustomed to eating and enjoyed eating to achieve my goals.
I lost the 15 pounds. I ended up just restricting and restricting. I didn’t have anything I enjoyed. Lower the calorie the better. I went from 125 to about 111. I exercised as much as possible. I brought my special snacks to work with me or my microwavable entree. Then I would have streaks of eating whatever I wanted. I would crack and have pizza and cookies, burgers and fries. I would gain the weight again. The cycle continued.
I decided to enroll with Beachbody when I lost weight drinking Shakeology. It was so expensive that I choose to be a coach to receive a discount and possibly get others below me to get my product for free. Sounded simple enough. I needed this shake obviously.
A few months went by and I was sick of making the shake every day. I felt dependent on it. The price went up even more. This didn’t make sense to me- $135 dollars for 30 shakes? I decided to end my time with Beachbody because if I didn’t agree with the price how was I going to tell others to pay it?
I continued to eat things that were low fat, fat free, low calorie. My weight stayed around 114-117. I lost the muscle and shape I had from playing sports for so many years even though I was in the gym 5-6 days per week. This was confusing and frustrating. I blamed genetics.
After receiving a negative comment about my physique from someone I loved, I decided to switch up my training program. I did mostly boot camp classes and very little weight training. I added the weights in. I got a trainer. I asked for help with what to eat. I was given my first “meal plan”.
I ate the meal plan religiously. “No one will say I’m flabby again!”. I got the leanest I ever was. I grew muscle and lost my cellulite. I felt great- I was proud of my body but during the course of this time I only ate my specific meal plan meals and had one “cheat” meal on Saturday. What if a party was on Wednesday night? Too bad, no dinner there. I had to eat before and then watch others eat during the get together. What about girls night out? I would bring a protein bar that was on my “meal plan” or not go. I was isolating myself. I missed my friends and I missed being social. I did my first round of shows and went back to my old ways of stuffing my face with my favorite foods that I missed so much. I gained some weight back and softened up and then went back to my “meal plan” to prep again.
This cycle continued for about 10 shows. I realized why so few people were lean all year- the discipline to never eat anything but chicken, fish, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato, and green veggies was too much. I literally grew an aversion to chicken.
Feeling frustrated I started looking for a new answer. I found Layne Norton. I watched all of his video logs. I continued to learn as much as possible about flexible dieting. I read books about how much importance to put on things that I thought were crucial- meal timing, the magic foods, my fat burner. I experimented on myself. I ate only Eggo waffles and fruit as my carbs for 2 weeks. I got the same results as if I ate the “magic carbs”. I was amazed. Why was I told I could only eat berries or bananas? I loved a zillion other fruits. Why could I only have green veggies? I loved colored veggies too. This is ridiculous.
I continued to flexibly diet and after my binges decreased, I was at peace with food, I wasn’t dependent on a weight loss product, I ate out at restaurants again, I was social, and I was HAPPY I decided to make it my top priority to teach others how to live this way. I am hoping to stop others from spending as much time as I did with the wrong information. To stop people from buying anything they are told will work because it is what a celebrity does or it was “just discovered”.
There you have it. So now lets get to the facts.
Eric Helm’s Nutrition Pyramid:
Why did those weight loss products work? They lowered my overall calories. I could have done that myself with the food I was already eating and just ate less. Then I would have also reached my goal weight.
Why did my meal plan give me such great results in the gym? It focused on macronutrient amounts. I finally had the right amount of protein (likely too much but enough is all I needed and I digress).
Why was I vitamin deficit? I only ate 6 foods for the majority of 3 years. You need to put some emphasis on micronutrients.
So how should you set up your diet?
Look at your total calories first. See what you are currently consuming, what you are currently burning and try to shoot for a deficit of 500 calories per day. That will be about one pound per week of fat loss.
Make sure you are getting enough protein. Shoot for one gram per pound of lean body mass.
With the rest of the calories, decide how you would prefer to eat and split them up between carbohydrate and fat grams. Warning: you need to be cautious of lowering dietary fat as your body cannot produce it on its own and you need it for hormone regulation so do not go too low with dietary fats.
After that focus on getting micronutrients in. Eat a wide array of fruits and vegetables. Vary your dishes, try new things.
When all of those things are in place you can consider meal timing and consider supplementation. I like to have higher carb, low fat, and low fiber meals around training sessions. This is not more important than keeping my calories in check. This is not more important than getting my protein in- you see my point. I use Metabolic Nutrition supplements because they help me meet the nutrition goals of staying in my calorie range and getting my protein in. If I’m not doing those things then I’m not going to see results regardless of what supplementation I am using.
Would I use meal replacement shakes or preplanned packages of meals again in the furture? Of course! But the difference is I know where they fit and I know how to reach my goals without them. If you don’t know how to eat without them then you are honestly putting a bandaid on a bullet hole like I was for about 6 years.
So the secret is out. There is no magic. There is no magic diet. The way to get results is to eat the way you like to eat keeping calories and macronutrients at the forefront of your program. Adherence to the program is what will make it work. You can’t adhere to what you don’t like or you will be like I was and binge your face off when you are around your favorite foods that you have banished for so long.
My personal goal is to help as many people as I can get off the dieting rollercoaster. To stop buying one thing after another not knowing why they are buying it and just hoping it will be the answer. No more pin the tail on the donkey. My plan is to take all the blindfolds off.
Hope this helps ease your mind and provides clarity but more importantly freedom with your diet and your food choices.