Posts Tagged ‘Fat Loss’

Nutritionists are Lying – A Calorie Isn’t a Calorie

I remember going to my first nutrition class at Penn State.

I was eager to jump right in since that was what I was there for, but had to wait until some of those darn pre req classes were out of the way.

I walked in day 1.  Liz Evans was our professor.  And she certainly didn’t look like the people I saw in the pages of the magazines I was getting all my information from up until this point.  Hey, you have to start somewhere.

Anyhow, after going over the syllabus, "one of the most important lessons in nutrition — in the entire course," Liz said, "is that all calories are equal.  Nutrition, health and weight loss are really simple" she continued "Calories in equal calories out, your weight is stable.  Calories out are more than calories in, you lose.  If calories in are more than calories out, you gain weight."

Like all the other students, I was writing as quickly as I could. 

And this message continued.  Through my masters and into my PhD, where my research focus was on teaching people how to lose weight permanently.

But it was then that I started to question things a bit more. 

REALLY?  Are all calories the same?

It didn’t make sense to me.  You see from a law of thermodynamics, it does make sense.  If you walk for 1 mile you burn 100 calories.  If you eat 100 calories worth of food, you’ve essentially created a "wash."  Nothing gained.  Nothing lost if we’re solely looking at this with regards to body weight.

But what if you compare extremes?

1 pound of sugar = 1,540 calories

~26 apples = 1,540 calories

Same calories.  But do you think the quality of 1 lb of sugar and 26 apples is the same?  Of course not…aside from the laundry list of nutrition problems eating a days worth of calories from just sugar would cause (nutrient deficiencies, scurvy, tooth decay, etc), how do you think the person eating the 1 pound of sugar would look, feel and perform after she did so?  Of course 26 apples isn’t the ideal "diet" either, but you get the point. 

It’s kind of like the saying, a pound of bricks is the same weight as a pound of feathers.  Sure, they weigh the same … but there are certainly different qualities between them, even though the scale may read the same. 

So as we started to look into this more on our own, with our own clients, and with our own writing & research … we changed our tune and go against the grain of mainstream nutrition to instead give this message:

QUALITY of the diet is more important than QUANTITY of the diet.

Of COURSE calories still do matter. 

But quality is crucial to permanent success.  And it made us even happier when we read a recent study by researchers at Harvard University confirming our point of how the quality of the diet — above and beyond just quantity — can help with fat loss.

The study certainly wasn’t the final word — and definitely had limitations — it wasn’t a "cause and effect" study, but rather a correlation study that asked over 120,000 healthy, well educated men and women about their dietary habits every 2 years for a total of between 12 and 20 years.

They then teased out some of the food items that were associated with weight loss or weight gain among the subjects. 

First, as a whole, they found that the average participant gained about 0.5 kg (1.1 lb) per year.  Who cares, right?  It’s JUST 1 lb.  The problem … year after year after year … that 1 lb adds up and people never lose it and long term it’s more and more dangerous.

The question, then, is what foods did they find contributed to the weight loss vs. those that contributed to weight gain?

Weight Loss:

  • Veggies
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Whole grain foods

Weight Gain:

  • Sugar sweetened drinks
  • Processed meats
  • Potatoes

Interesting, huh?

Again, we’re certainly not saying there aren’t limitations to this study or this type of correlation study, but there were some interesting findings to consider.  The take home points from the authors were to not focus so heavily on calories and rather look at the quality — limit processed or refined carbohydrates and focus instead on veggies, fruits, and healthier food options … even if they are higher in calories (like nuts).  Basically a lot of this boils down to how these foods affect the hormones in our body – namely, insulin, a powerful storage hormone. 

Again, it’s not just how much you eat, but WHAT you eat. 

Just as an aside, we also don’t think potatoes are a "devil" food — we do think the ways people eat them (such as French fries) are.  Again, take this data with a grain of salt. 

At the end of the day, though, we want you to focus on overall diet QUALITY … our message remains the same.  Lots of veggies and fruits, nuts, healthy fats, lean protein and some whole grains.

Pretty basic.  But very effective.

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3 Diet Mistakes Everyone Makes

While the word "diet" may not be on anyone’s mind right now with the holidays and tons of parties, it’s surely in the back of everyone’s minds with January 1 around the corner.

So let’s get the info out there while it’s on people’s minds.

There are a few diet "mistakes" that are common, but once you know ‘em, you won’t struggle with them again (at least you’ll be aware … and awareness is the key).  You think you’re on track — eating breakfast daily, drinking all diet drinks so no liquid calories, and enjoying low fat snacks between meals — but it’s not necessarily that simple. 

Here’s the truth — let’s delve into this a bit deeper to reveal 3 Diet Mistakes Everyone Makes.

  1. Eating breakfast daily.  OK, that seems a bit weird — breakfast is supposed to be THE most important meal of the day.  Well, unless it’s a bowl of fiber free cereal or a bagel and cream cheese with zero nutrition to fuel your body. 

    Check this out — 1 cup of Kellog’s low fat granola gives you 28 grams of sugar (that’s more than Froot Loops), which is just a few teaspoons shy of what a can of soda offers.  If you instead opt for a plain bagel, you mine as well sit down and eat 5 slices of bread because you’re getting the same thing … empty calories that won’t even fill you up.  So, yes, eat breakfast…but choose some protein, add in some fruit and/or veggies, and you’ll be well fueled and full of nutrients.  THAT will help with weight loss.

  2. Drinking diet drinks to eliminate liquid calories.  This one is tricky.  We’re not fans of diet drinks — diet soda, tea, Crystal Light, etc.  Why?  Because they’re artificial.  And, interestingly, a handful of studies suggest diet drinks may actually cause weight gain just like their high calorie counterpart.  Very simply the thought process is that your body is "tricked" into thinking it’s getting something sweet, but since you don’t actually get any calories or nutrients, you then have MORE cravings.  Hmmmmm.  Maybe. 

    Here’s the kicker, though.  We hate the high calorie alternative too.  We’re not suggesting slurping down liquid Froot Loops (e.g, soda) either.  Drink water.  If you don’t like the plain flavor, add slices of fruit or veggies to change it a bit — it will take on a hint of whatever fruit or veggie you use.

  3. Enjoying low fat snacks.  Snacking is great…when you choose good options.  But when you don’t, they are, well, junk. 

    Zero nutrient rice cakes = Junk. 
    Low fat chips = Junk
    Low fat ice cream or cookies =  You guessed it, junk. 

    The list can go on.  Want a solid snack that will help fill you with nutrients AND boost weight loss?  Grab a handful of nuts — they’re loaded with healthy fat, protein, fiber, and a ton of nutrients.  Good stuff.  Of course, they are calorie dense — so sticking to that handful is the key. 

    Just don’t fall for the low fat mantra.  If a good is naturally low fat, like veggies and fruits, fantastic.  But if it’s a food that SHOULD have fat but it’s "magically" disapeared, that means it’s full of added junk to make it taste like what we’re used to.  Stick to real foods, just stick to smaller portions.

Mohr Results Bottom Line: You don’t have to get duped with all the diet information you’re going to be hearing over the next several weeks and month.  Armed with the right tools, you will absolutely be able to make the best decisions and achieve whatever goals you want.  If you want a simple fat loss jumpstart so you don’t have to think about anything — just following along with the blueprint, check out the 21 Day Fat Loss Jumpstart

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The Power of Less

We were at the park with Ella the other night and were talking with another set of parents while our daughters played together.  As we continued to talk, the conversation came up of how we manage to fit in exercise with Ella…and how will we with another one on the way.

This particular couple already has 2 kids, both under 3.  And both, admittedly, have struggled to maintain their own exercise habits.

Now we’ll be the first to admit, having kids certainly throws a little wrench into the mix … it makes eating healthy and exercising regularly a bit more challenging, but certainly not impossible or out of the question when you have a strategy in place.  What used to be our normal routine is now dictated by an almost 2.5 year old.  And again this will all change in a few weeks for us personally. 

It doesn’t mean exercising is impossible until your last kid turns 18 and you’re an empty nester.  And even if you don’t have kids, similar challenges exist — you’re working longer hours, don’t want to get up an earlier to exercise before work like we do in our Louisville boot camp and simply struggle to make time.

What we shared with them at the park is exactly what you’re going to hear today …

…it’s something we’ve learned and adapted over the last few years since Ella has been around.  Our goals certainly shifted — years ago I would train twice per day — lifting once, some type of cardio or sprints later on.  Kara did the same when she ran more often; lifting in the morning and then running in the afternoon. 

But basically we now get in and out of the gym or wherever we’re working out as quickly as possible.  We call it the "Power of Less."  Interestingly, in the book the 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferriss, he coined the term "minimum effective dose" … same idea.

…how little can you do and still get the best results?  In other words, less is more (or is it less is MOHR?). :-)

Ferriss points to the example of boiling water.  Boiling water is boiling water.  It doesn’t get "more boiled" with greater and longer heat.  

We’re not trying to get people to move less; we’re trying to be practical in our recommendations because at the end of the day, spending as much time with Ella as possible is a lot more important than spending as much time as possible working out. 

One example of getting more done in less time is changing the intensity of your workout.  We can do 10 hill sprints in 20 or 30 or so minutes…very challenging workout that puts a lot of demands on many muscles of our bodies.  Or we can go out for a walk each day, do that for about 60 minutes, barely elevate the heart rate or work muscles with any type of intensity and not get close to the same results.

Does this mean walking is bad?  Of course not…and we DO often do that stroll just to get out of the house.  We’re not necessarily even doing it for the sake of exercising, it’s just better than sitting around watching TV and it’s a great way to break up the work day and take a break from staring at a computer.

But let’s go back to that minimum effective dose … or what we say is the "Power of Less."

Maybe it means you have to bump up the intensity of your workouts to get more in less time. 

The Power of Less works for nutrition, too.  In fact we talked about it the other day when we suggested you STOP THINKING.  There’s 15 million different ideas, diets, and tips out there … focus on ONE and you’ll get results rather than flip flopping daily and believing every single thing you read. More on this to come in the future…

It’s where less is more.  And where LESS will get you BETTER results. 

The Power of Less.  Agree?

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3 Meals vs. 6 Meals — What’s Best?

Wow, last the blog suggesting "stop thinking" to truly transform your body really peaked the interest of a lot…over 120 "likes" on FB and a handful of comments.  Glad it struck a nerve.

It’s time to bring up another hot topic in the world of nutrition.

How many meals to eat for the BEST results.

There’s a general consensus that eating smaller, more frequent meals is best for fat loss and general health.

You’ll be more full.

You’ll better control your blood sugar.

You’ll better control your hormones.

And, at the end of the day, this means you’ll lose more fat and keep your muscle.

But it is TRULY that simple?  If you eat the same number of calories spread out through multiple meals vs. eating just a few meals/day that magic bullet for fat loss?OK

This question was part of my PhD dissertation … and now more current research has looked at this same thing.

A friend from the University of Missouri — Dr. Heather Leidy — published her research in the journal, Obesity, asking this very question.  And Heather is no stuffy lab scientist who barely knows how to spell the word exercise.  She IS a smart scientist, but feels right at home in the gym training as well.

So let’s quickly look at her publication. 

3 meals.  6 meals.  What’s best?

In this small study of just 27 overweight or obese men, subjects were assigned to "high" protein diets (25% of their calories) or regular protein diets (14% of their total calories).  Then, they were also divided into 3 meals/day (~5 hours apart) or 6 meals per day (2-3 hours apart).

The higher protein group DID report being more full throughout the day, in the evening, and later at night.  This isn’t surprising as there’s no doubt protein is more filing than either carbohydrate or protein. 

But, interestingly, the group randomly assigned to eat just 3 meals per day reported feeling more full than the group eating 6 meals/day

Hmmm, this is interesting.  For years and years, lay audiences, magazines, etc have suggested smaller, more frequent meals is the BEST approach.  Now Dr. Leidy’s research suggests otherwise.  Maybe the smaller, more frequent feedings is more than it’s cracked up to be.

What do you think — leave a comment on the blog?  Here are our thoughts…

Mohr Results Bottom Line:  There is actually very little data on this topic as a whole.  Eating smaller, more frequent meals isn’t always feasible for people who are at the office or have less "freedom" throughout the day to make smart food choices.  We do encourage the use of great snacks — like raw nuts and fruit, for example — but the overall diet quality seems to be the biggest issue more so than the frequency of eating as a whole.

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Wow, lots of interest and "FB likes" to our post the other day regarding our blog last week suggesting people "stop thinking" to change body composition.

Here’s another piece to this puzzle.  But it may upset some people.

Ready?  We don’t care what type of nutrition plan you follow …

Paleo Diet, Low fat, Low Carb, Raw foods, etc.

We care that you stick to it.

There’s an acronym we use when sharing this with people:






We’re not saying there are not better approaches and worse ones for long term success, so we’re always going to steer people in the right direction — but not traditionally through "diet" changes, and instead more so through behavioral changes that help reach their goals.  For example, replacing a daily serving of chips with a handful of pistachios and a piece of fruit isn’t really a "diet" per se, it’s a simple behavior that will ultimately help with success down the road.

But at the end of the day, ANY program you follow will work … it’s just that most get upset that results aren’t coming as quickly as they hoped, or maybe they get bored with the food choices they are limited to on the particular plan they are trying to follow and as a result, throw their hands up and do nothing. 

We do know if you’re diet is too complex, it will not have staying power.

Which is why we always suggest going back to basics.  This is the purpose of the "7 Word Diet" from Michael Pollan we’ve talked about before.

Eat foods. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Pretty basic, yet easy to remember.

And again, more important than following any "diet" is following the simple behavior tips and strategies that will help with permanent success.  These aren’t rocket science tips and strategies — there is nothing sexy about eating more veggies and fruits, for example — but we don’t need rocket science, we need permanent simple strategies that will help people with long term success.

  1. Eat a veggie or fruit with every single meal and snack
  2. Replace all liquid calories with non calorie alternatives.
  3. Include protein with each meal
  4. Replace junk fiber free carbs with high fiber alternatives
  5. Eat less of whatever you’re eating

You see.  Not rocket science.  Far from "sexy."  But follow those 5 strategies on a regular basis and you will be successful.

Spread the word that DIETS aren’t the answer!  Share this with your friends on FB by clicking the "like" button below…

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