You know how Arvind and I keep going on and on and on about eating real food and not worrying about calories even if you are on a fat loss phase? Yea so, we tell this to everyone and no one takes us seriously! Most people are thinking…
‘These guys want me to eat as much as I can? And lots of meat? Multiple eggs? And rice?!?! And they think I’ll lose weight and look and feel great? Kraeeezieeee!’
Well I wouldn’t blame them really. Today, we, as a population, have been taught to look at food and immediately associate it with calories and fat and cholesterol and carbs! We look at an egg and immediately associate it with cholesterol! We look at rice and instantly go Carbbbsss! We look at butter & cheese and scream Fattt! We look at a box of cookies and think ‘It says low fat and low calories. Awesome. Imma get 3!’
Thank you conventional wisdom! Thank you smart marketing folks! Thank you pharma companies! Thank you docs who get paid by pharma companies! Thank you dumb nutritionists! Thank you hypocratic trainers! We owe you!
Anyways, this being the case, I decided to put our nutritional recommendation of eat real food to the test. Having a long and strong research and development background in the neurovascular and endovascular implantable medical devices field, I am trained to test anything using a ‘worst case’ scenario. So I naturally gravitated towards testing my eat real food theory considering the worst case and hence made the following assumptions.
- The hypothetical client is a female (which basically means greater body image issues and higher chance of emotional eating).
- She weighs 160 lb, stands 5 ft tall and is termed ‘obese’.
- She has very low immunity due to bad nutritional habits and hence good health is a major criterion here (i.e. she can’t go on a 3 month unhealthy crash diet).
- She only has enough time to do 2-3 short workouts every week (which forces energy intake to be very low in order to create a significant calorie deficit).
- She is allergic to dairy, shellfish and wheat and can’t consume any of them in any form.
For such a client my typical recommendation would be…
- Stay away for all allergens.
- Do not worry about calories.
- Consume 1 lb of animal products (meat and fish together) to adequate protein intake and satiety.
- Consume 2-3 lb of mixed vegetables.
- Eat 100-200 g of starchy vegetables (or 1/2-1 cup of cooked white rice) in your post workout along with a good chunk of protein.
- Eat 1-3 cage free whole eggs if appetite/hunger permits.
- Eat a handful of raw nuts if hunger strikes.
- Stay away from grains, lentils, sugars, junk and *gasp* even fruit in addition to the allergic dairy and shellfish.
Let’s assume that she takes my recommendations and incorporates it as follows.
- She eats 3 whole eggs, half a pound of wild salmon and a half a pound of chicken breast in an effort to get her protein.
- Since she only has access to a regular store with mundane vegetables she uses a couple of bunches of spinach, two small tomatoes, a couple of carrots and a some onions when cooking her meat and calls that her vegetable intake for the day.
- Post workout, she decides to eat about 200 g of baked sweet potatoes ‘cos she thinks they’re delicious.
- She understands her allergies and stays away from all junk, grains, sugars and even fruit!
- Though this is a lot of food and I’m certain she will find it hard to even eat all this, let’s just assume that she felt a tiny bit hungry around 4 pm and munched on 9-10 almonds along with her black coffee.
Pretty good adherence I’d say. She didn’t obsess about anything. She ate her meat, managed to eat whatever vegetables she could find and stayed away from the bad stuff.
So if she emailed me this as her food intake for the day, my response would’ve been – Good stuff! Keep it clean. But just for the heck of it, let’s plug it all into fitday and see what we get.
Funny stuff eh?! Even without obsessing about what she ate or trying to count calories, she got 131 g of protein (which is a perfectly good amount of protein to spare lean tissue and ensure satiety) and 116 g of quality carbs (which is more than sufficient to keep her out of ketosis and fuel her smart and short workouts) in addition to 51 g of fat! Now let’s get into this a littler deeper and look into macros.
- It looks like she almost had a clean split between protein, fat and carbs! Wow! Was she counting calories and going insane trying to balance these out? Well, no! She just ate real food!
- It also looks like she’s getting plenty of all the three (monounsaturated, saturated and polyunsaturated) fats! Was she adding any isolated fats (like oil or ghee) to get these in? Well, no! She just ate real food!
- And since her only source of polyunsaturated fat seems to be the fish she ate, it looks like she is getting plenty of omega 3s! Was she supplementing with omega 3 gel caps? Well, no! She just ate real food!
- And Oh. Em Gee! The chart says she ate 34 g of fiber! Was she eating plenty of whole freakin grains? Well, no ya dimwit! She just ate real food!
But even this isn’t good enough now is it! ‘Cos there is always that one person who has to say…
Yea… this is all fine and dandy alright. But her total calorie consumption is only 1400! Isn’t that too low? What about micronutrients? There is no way she’s getting the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals!
Ummm… you do have a point. She probably isn’t. But before we jump the gun, let’s make sure.
Holy shmolly guacamole! It looks like her super low calorie fat loss diet is giving her MUCH more vitamins and minerals than what is recommended! Did she take one of those ultra stroung multi-vitamin tablets? Well, no! She just ate real freakin food!
Huh! Maybe shit works. Oh well! Its almost like I know what I’m talking about.
So if in 3 months you meet a friend you haven’t seen in a while and she looks amazing, says she didn’t do any crazy dieting or count calories and swears that she feels like a million bucks and that her energy level is through the roof, you better know she did one thing and only one thing… she… ate… real… food!