Two things are super-insulting when it comes to food: Humans who are more than willing to sell advice they will not take for themselves, advice they have read, never tested, and repeated. Second, quick fix whores. I am neither and I never will be. I have tried it all. I have failed a lot. And I have created a pattern that can be duplicated for your success.
My many years of working with athletes, patients, and addicts, has left me more than versed when it comes to humans and food. When it comes to food, more so than maybe even religion or politics, we are ruled by opinion. Frequently, pertaining to food or just about everything else in life, we condemn the just in favor of the scandal. Scandals are sexy, dieting is everything but.
When we leave our emotional opinions of food behind, the steps below become easy. When we stop listening to those who sell advice they will not take for themselves we will finally be free of the confusion that Calories bring to the world and those living in it.
Don’t pay a guy like me to tell you how to avoid eating like an idiot. Drop your opinions of food and move along the simple, yet meaningful steps below. There is nothing sexy about the truth, but the truth will set you free.
#1 Get Your Measurements
If I could go back, I would tell the 21-year-old me to take more pictures, have someone measure my body fat more often, and most importantly, gather critical blood draws for future reference. It’s one thing to pull up my shirt and say look at what my eating does. It’s a whole other thing to do that while saying, “Now look under the hood.”
I am no doctor and yet I have taken one look at someone’s panel and spotted issues immediately. On some occasions, the proactive athletes are blessed as we catch a sort of bubbling caldron beneath the surface ready to erupt.
The first step in making the last diet changes you will ever need is gathering the most important data of your life. Sometimes it just shows where you were. Sometimes it saves you from where you are headed.
#2 Eat Paleo
A few year back, Paleo was underground. It had not caused a stir and therefore it had not been molested. It’s not that it’s original version is wounded, it’s that it’s not original anymore, it’s profitable and popular.
I have tried being a vegetarian for a month. I have consumed four protein shakes a day between eating four real food meals. I have swallowed eight meals a day-all chicken, and I have gotten up on stage to be judged for how “hot”, or how “not hot” I looked in very tight undergarments we called “trunks” to make ourselves feel better. I have purposefully ballooned up to 260+plus pounds only to whittle it all back down and compete 16 weeks later at 170 pounds. Over the last 12 years, I have honestly experimented with everything I can think of when it comes to diet. My degree is in experience.
I did all this because I never believed anything anybody told me. I had to try it for myself. I often thought I could outwork my diet-I was always proven wrong. I wanted to find a way to make pizza OK-it doesn’t exist. Eventually, I realized that the goal was making my food work for me like the fuel it is, not me work for it, like the addiction it has become.
Paleo is the answer. Paleo is simply this: do nothing that hurts, do only what heals.
If any diet guru or eating plan allows for anything short of that definition-RUN. It would be like a doctor saying, “don’t shoot heroin, smoke cigarettes.” Or a preacher saying, “go ahead and screw your neighbor’s wife, but don’t commit murder.” A sin is a sin, and making excuses for one is simply a road to suppression. I want the cure.
Doing only what heals is achieved by two things: All out brief activity-CrossFit. And, eat only meat, nuts, seeds, vegetables, coconut, no starch, no fruit.
#3 Stop Eating Breakfast
The most important meal of the day is so very true. But important for whom? The consumer, or the market itself. There are over 4000 calories produced per day per American. Getting us to eat those calories is the second biggest business in the world/ It’s the first part in chronic treatment. The second biggest business, the last step in chronic treatment, is pharmacology that is unavoidable by following step one.
Breakfast is a creation of food companies that need to find a way to get you buying more. It has nothing to do with health. In fact, it is the opposite.
When you eat immediately upon arising, something unlike our ancestors, you switch off the go-go-go. You turn a sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) into a parasympathetic nervous system (relaxed). The energy you gain from breakfast is nothing more than a carbohydrate high leading to the crash a few hours later. Of course, the only way to feel better is another feeding. Not only is this ultra inconvenient, but not particularly healthy. The fewer meals we can eat by starting our feedings later in the day and making meals bigger is a way to release less insulin over the course of our entire lives. This alone wards off Alzheimer’s, MS, Parkinson’s, and any number of autoimmune or neurological disorders.
#4 Stop Eating Carbs
Carbohydrates of all kinds are energy substrates. Meaning, they will burn off as energy before anything else. This may conserve muscle of course, but I have another way to do that in step five. While it’s conserving muscle, it’s also preserving fat from being burned as fuel. A sure-fire way to keep fat on is to let the body store it while it burns carbohydrates.
A wealth of other issues like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer also develop while carbohydrate consumption remains high. Remember, there are essential proteins, and essential fats, but there is no such thing as essential carbohydrates.
#5 Start Eating Fat. Lots of it
To burn fat you must eat it. To save muscle you must burn fat. This will happen whenever carbohydrates are low enough for long enough to make ketones your preferred energy source. A source the heart kidneys and many organs prefer to the ultra acidic glucose. In effect, you will become a fat eating, fat burning, muscle-sustaining machine.
Leptin, the master hormone, will finally be satisfied by fat and you will no longer be hungry making cravings a million times easier to deal with. Your friends will wonder how it’s possible that you eat steak, bacon, and avocado, drop weight and have endless energy.
#6 Stop Buying and Stop Selling Supplements
The proper diet, within the proper environment, needs no supplemental additions. That being said, I believe our current environment is lacking the nutrients below in such a way that most of us would benefit from supplementation.
The amounts you ingest will be based on self-experimentation easily definable by performing step one repeatedly until you have your levels clear across the board. All other supplementation is usually completely unnecessary.
Barring a few critical scenarios, qualified by a professional, you do not need anything more than the three items above assuming your eating paleo. If you’re not eating paleo, then you have not even made it to step number two. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet, and you can’t out supplement one either.
And just to make sure we are all on the same page about who a professional is, folks like myself are. Humans having experimented with every reasonable contingency-those are your experts. Not the guy at the bottom of the pyramid, or middle, or wherever he came into his network marketing scam of feel-good pills. If your trainer trains, sells Advocare, and tries to get you to do the same, all the while inviting you out for pizza, you need a new trainer.
#7 Don’t live by “studies show”
I have been involved in published metabolic ward studies. Meaning, I was under someone else’s complete control and my diet was manufactured, watched, and adjusted so that the end results could be organized in one of those “studies” people reference all the time. The security measure during check-in was this, “are you following”. If I said yes, the study became legit.
Sure some studies are very close to legit but more often than not it’s “profit before science”. The only surefire way to know what works is self-experimentation along with proper data collection. But remember, somethings we don’t have to test. I know a grenade going off in my lap will hurt, I don’t have to pull the pin to prove it. Test intelligently.
#8 Community Counts
Buddhists say, “only the snow lions among us can go it alone”. A snow lion is a mythological deity that is endlessly cheerful and maintains limitless courage. If you do not have those two constant qualities, you need friends.
This could easily be step one. It is really that important. The community I hold most dear is CrossFit but admittedly, any community of virtuous honest members focusing on each other’s strengths and weaknesses will work. Buddhists call it a “Sangha”, CrossFitters call it a box. Call it whatever you want, find humans that are true friends and commit to each other every day.
True friends do not accept you for who you are, they challenge you to become who you’re are destined to be. True friends are in your face when you fail, never allowing for anything short of your total potential to be reached. Anything else is a comfortable accomplice at best.
Ninety percent of the planet needs nothing more than these eight steps. Designer diets, pretty picture recipe books, and networking marketing are the distractions we have built around avoiding the very unsexy truth about food. The truth about food is: it’s not easy, but it’s simple. The eight steps above cure the temptation, allowing freedom for the first time ever. Nothing tastes better than freedom feels.
About the author:
Josh Bunch is a published author on the subject of paleo, a fitness expert, CrossFit freak and philospher. Check him out on his website joshbunch.com or follow him on Twitter @joshua_m_bunch.