This post is blatant theft! The team behind Whole 9 South Pacific in New Zealand – Jamie Scott and Dr Anastasia Boulais, wrote a series of tweets that need a much greater audience. (Whole 9 SP Facebook page)
One of the frustrations about plethora of information on the internet is that many people apply a one size fits all approach to themselves, and then feel a failure if it doesn’t work.
Take Low Carbohydrate diets for example – these could be practically zero carb diets, a ketogenic diet, or a very low carb diet (below 50 grams of carbs a day). They are often touted as the only way to lose weight, and following this logic, if you don’t lose weight on a low carb diet – your carbs are not low enough or you are not doing it right.
I had a female client see me a few months ago whose male partner lost weight and felt fantastic on a very low carb high fat diet, and found it improved his training – mainly long distance running. On the other hand she struggled with energy levels during training and failed to lose any weight. The nutritionist they were working with said she needed to go lower carb and spend more time fat adapting and all would be good. Except that it wasn’t – her energy levels plummeted further, recovery was poor, weight stayed on and her sleep got worse. “Just give it more time”, if your satiety is poor – “”Eat more fat – fat doesn’t make you fat” she was told. This strategy failed to work. Just as an aside – One question I have never had a satisfactory answer to from high fat advocates who say ‘fat does not get stored as fat’ is “If you eat more fat than you need for energy needs and physiological functions, (like hormone production and cell membrane needs), where does the fat go?”
When only one paradigm is seen as the right way – we lose sight of the big picture. Everyone is different, and food is only part of the equation.
Whole 9 SA tweets were in response to one the many blog posts that one encounters in answer to the question – What if I’m not losing weight on a low carb diet?
Sure the authors give some tweaks one could make to ones diet, however they do not address any other issue that affect weight loss other than diet, and the focus in dietary terms was mainly around tweaking of macronutrients. While this matters, it is only part of the picture.
For example sleep. When I see a client – three questions I always ask are “How well do you sleep?” “How long do you sleep?” and “If you are on holiday and you get as much sleep as you need before waking without an alarm – how long do you sleep for?” In my observation if you don’t address the sleep issue – all your focus on diet is pointless. Lack of sleep puts you in a state of insulin resistance or prediabetes (1), it increases muscle loss and decreases fat loss (2), it plays havoc with the hormones that regulate appetite, leading to increased desire for and consumption of junk food (3)
Here then are the tweets from W9SP.:
Reductionism in health and weight mgmt -> “if you don’t lose weight on low carb you are not doing it hard enough.”
Fascinating article which embodies people’s reductionism approach: it’s ALL about the diet. Not a single mention of multiple other factors!
Not even a single mention about the quality of food (except advising to eat enough vegetables and fruit). Atkins bars for everyone?
So what to do if you are not losing weight on a low carb diet?
1. Choose high nutrient foods s.a quality meat/fish/eggs/veggies/fruit/nuts
2. Get plenty of quality restful sleep of 8-9hrs a night
3. Move slowly lots and sprint once a week
4. Lift heavy things and get strong
5. Get enough sunlight. Go out during the day, even if it’s cloudy, be outside
6. Manage your stress proactively not reactively
7. Go out in nature, put down your smartphone, take a
8. Be kind to yourself and surround yourself with supportive people.
9. And finally adjust your macronutrient intake around your activity levels. Don’t drink your nutrients, don’t juice, don’t crush your nuts.
Once again, this was the advice for sustainable fat loss. Not weight loss. Not how to get skinny in 30 days. Not for improving performance.
More fat? More carbs? Neither. Eat more FOOD. Let’s not practice reductionism – food is so much greater than its macronutrient content.
Whole 9 Life have a huge resource of free info – so go check it out.
(If you need more advice on eating a high nutrient balanced diet for your body size see my post here)
And for my client above who failed to lose weight, and suffered fatigue eating very low carb? I had her increase her root veg carbs and decrease fat – problem solved!
If you are a New Zealander and have an interest in Ancestral health and living – check out the Ancestral Health Society of New Zealand and come to the next seminar in Wanaka on the 25th October)