Monday, 7 November 2016

Post 31: Top 3 Diet Excuses


Hi Guys,

The idea for this post came to me while I was out of London for a long weekend. While catching up with old friends, they relentlessly teased me for my healthy lifestyle and for writing this blog (in a friendly British way of course…), but what they said struck a chord. Or at least what was underlying what they said, struck a chord.

What I picked up, were the excuses people give either to other people or to themselves which stop them from starting a diet, or more importantly, from getting healthy. Because overall, that’s what this is all about. If you’re healthy then by definition, you’re not overweight, your metabolism is working as it should, and your hormones are in top notch condition.

These are the excuses that help you to weasel out of getting started; the slippery thoughts which people employ to put off what can be started today, to tomorrow. These weasels are misconceptions or myths which have been propagated by a combination of media, government recommendations, and branding, and really need to be eliminated.

So what are the three biggest excuses that people employ?


I’d have to count calories

That, and/or, you need to restrict calories and food intake. Well, if that was true, then why is it that countless people, including myself, find that if they eat the right kind of diet that they can actually eat more calories  and still lose weight?!

Food quantity and content is so much more important than the amount that you eat. We’re designed to use certain types of food for energy immediately and some to build and preserve muscle. Certain other foods induce low satiety, are easily converted into and stored as fat, and lead to a host of metabolic problems. Food is not all just one gelatinous cube which we take bites out of i.e. a calorie is not a calorie.

This links back to what I was saying about how these excuses are formed. The notion that one big number (the calorie content) is the only important factor, is straight out wrong, and assumes low intelligence in the consumer. You’re having the wool pulled over your eyes!

This is why my main starting advice is completely in line with Mark Sisson’s; in fact, this is exactly where I started. Forget keto, fasting, and HIIT, just cut out grains, industrial oils, and gluten, then eat to satiety.


I don’t have the time

There is a big misconception that healthy food requires a lot of time to prepare. And who would blame you? When we see healthy recipes or cooking shows, they contain endless lists of ingredients. What’s worse is they desperately try to recreate unhealthy food in “healthy” ways e.g. gluten free pizza bases. At some level, you need to come to a different agreement with these foods i.e. they’re not consumed regularly and instead saved for cheat days/meals or as treats.

The truth is that demand for healthy, and in particular low carb, options is skyrocketing, and companies are working hard to meet it. There’s a salad bar on every corner, you can even get them in Subway and the number of “local” supermarkets which will sell pre-made salads is through the roof.

If you’re making your own food, you just need to break your connection to the idea that a meal has a base of potatoes or rice. Every meal can be built up around lots of different vegetables together with a delicious, fatty, dressing.

The point is it doesn’t have to be fancy so don’t let all your ideas come from over the top cookbooks! Healthy food is easy to make and you can eat as much as you want of it. Like I said above, quality and content trumps quantity every time.


I have to exercise

This is the killer excuse which I’ve heard over, and over, and over again. There seems to be a deep seated nostalgia that many people have of when they would spend their entire days, as children, running around like maniacs. Well of course you were thin then, you had a sky-high metabolism and were moving non-stop! People say “once I start to run/row/cycle/swim again”, that they’ll get their whole act in gear, but it’s missing the point.

Firstly, the effectiveness of altering your food massively outweighs the benefits of exercise. Your first port of call has to be the food! Remember the 80/20 rule. Well in this case, 80% (probably more actually) of your results are going to come from your change in diet and 20% from exercise.

The next point is that people are going out and doing completely the wrong sort of exercise. Whereas they should be doing some low, slow, activity, they want to pound out the miles on the treadmill which is going to trigger sugar cravings anyway! The exercise which is really effective (HITT, low’n’slow, and weights) is overlooked and even then, if you’re seriously overweight you might injure yourself. If I was to give some advice regarding exercise then I would say get your diet in place just for two weeks so you have the fundamentals down.


Takeaways

There was a secret fourth excuse I want to mention, which is alcohol. You don’t need to give up alcohol entirely to be healthy, but there are certainly benefits to a good strategy for consuming it (which is a perfect plug for my post of alcohol which can be found here).

I also want to finish on a disclaimer. I talk a lot about the ketogenic diet (no carbs) and I pursue an avenue which a lot of people would consider “extreme”. But to be able to sit here and write about this subject, I also feel that I need to walk the walk. I need to be in the forefront, testing out the advanced and extreme approaches so that I can report back. People I’ve known for years almost apologies for eating carbs in my presence, and while it’s mildly hilarious to experience such foreboding, I don’t want to give off a “health extremist vibe”.

But that doesn’t mean you have to follow exactly what I do. As I said earlier, my immediate advice to someone just starting out is cut out grains, industrial oils, and gluten for two weeks, and see how you do. Leave the ketosis, HIIT and fasting strategies for later on down the line. I’m a firm believer in the low hanging fruit principle when it comes to health. Take the easiest and most effective option available to you, and continue to do so until you’ve reached your goal.

Here’s this week’s takeaways:
  1. You don’t need to count calories at all; like with media, content is king
  2. Being healthy is not a time sink; there are quick options every. Just change your psychology a tad and think differently about what builds a basic plate of food
  3. You don’t need to start exercising; the marginal benefit of exercise is puny when compared to getting your diet down

There you go folks. Short, sweet, and succinct. If you’re one of those people who are thinking about getting started then I hope this post helped out.

As always, please leave a like on your respective social medias, share this with your friends, and comment down below.

Until next time,

Cowlean

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