A reoccurring theme in my top three tips for 2017 has been nutrition. Nutrition is really the single key to losing weight and all we need to do is understand the principles that dictate weight loss if we want to shed fat effectively. One major factor we must consider before we begin is the knowledge we have been provided for the majority of our lives so far. If you’re unhealthy or overweight (or both) then I think it’s safe to say that your default ideologies may be slightly skewed. Now, this isn’t your fault because all we need to do is look at society in general and we’ll get a good picture of the current state of affairs, and what we see really isn’t pretty. So why is it that the majority of people are now overweight? Why is it that obesity, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, strokes and cancer have all been on the rise consistently since the 50s? Could this be a coincidence or can we point to a specific factor that is causing this spike in sickness?
Well, for starters we need to analyse how our relationship with food has changed over the decades due to the rise of capitalism. Back in the day of our grandparents, food was relatively close to nature and took a minimum of effort to prepare. The foods weren’t pre-prepared, packaged and ready to be consumed straight away. The luxuries of chocolates and sweets were exactly that… luxuries and were consumed in moderation or on special occasions. Slowly but surely though, we stumbled upon our first breakthrough which was fast food and it increased the speed and efficiency of the exchange of money for food. This was quite exciting at the time for entrepreneurs because as a business owner you found something amazing that worked and as a consumer you had a source of cheap fast food, which saved you time.
The only problem with this model is that eventually the rest of the market caught on and this drove up competition, which led to CEOs having to find ways of increasing their profit margin and this, unfortunately, came at the expense of food quality and health — Your health to be more specific. The ingredients used to make these products that they sold in their establishments no longer came from nature but were closer to science experiments. Even though the taste was there the nutrients were lacking. This same principle goes for all the other major food companies that provide us with chocolates, crisps and sweets. All of these products are manufactured in labs and engineered to induce maximum pleasure in us so that we become repeat consumers.
The key point to take from all of this is that the foods we consume are no longer foods but products that have been manufactured to please our taste buds.
Let that sit with you for a while so that you can properly grasp the extent of that statement. Our bodies need adequate nutrition to function properly and optimally. Without these important nutrients our bodies malfunction and become defective in the form of sickness and weight gain. Fat is used by our bodies as a protector to shield our internal organs from the toxins that we ingest so that they aren’t damaged by the harmful chemicals that the body doesn’t recognise.
Now, it would be great if all of these big food companies had our best interests at heart but unfortunately they don’t. Business comes first and we’re the cattle that graze on their “delicious products” providing them with their large profit margins. Business can be compared to war and in this battle, CEOs are the lieutenants doing everything in their power to ensure their survival. Profits are their oxygen and they must wage war on everyone who is trying to get a large hold of this oxygen because when it runs out, you got it, they die. Unfortunately morality has no place in this arena when we’re playing in the big leagues and that means that your health and the health of our children is at stake. We’re simply here to consume their products and they’re doing everything in their power to keep us consuming.
Obviously the best way is to keep us consuming on a consistent basis so that a steady stream of profit is guaranteed. The younger we’re hooked, the more loyal we are to the brands that “feed” us.
Another factor to take into account is that business and politics go hand in hand through lobbying. Enough money can influence people in high positions to promote certain diets or foods or ideologies that will benefit specific sectors in these industries. All you need to do is take a quick look at the food pyramid to see that clearly there must be something wrong with the information provided to us by the people that should have our best interests at heart.
That’s why it’s so important that you should never give up the authority over your health and wellbeing. It’s up to you to take up the task of being chief executive of operations of your body. You’re the only person who really and truly cares about the outcome of your health and wellbeing. After all if you become sick and obese no one really cares except YOU.
So how can we begin to take control? First off, realise that a lot of the information we’ve been provided by the organisations we look to the most is slightly faulty and biased and we must revise our knowledge. Secondly, we must remember that we come from nature. Society is a very new creation and has only been around for a few thousand years, so although there has been a massive technological evolution, there hasn’t been a biological one and we still need to eat the foods that come from the earth. This means foods that are natural, unprocessed and chemical free. Thirdly, we must look to our ancestors, the hunter gatherers because our biological make up is the exact same as theirs and we must examine how they lived in order to know how we must behave, both nutritionally and physically, because they were in peak physical shape. The only reason they had short life expectancies is because of their dangerous environment and the lack of antibiotics to cure infections. If you’re open to these three points then I’m happy to tell you that massive and rapid improvements can be expected for you.
For now, I want to look at how our ancestors used to live, what they used to do and eat. Back in the day our hunter-gatherer ancestors were nomads and used to travel around, never staying put longer than a few months in one location. They would use up the resources around their camp and then move on to another location that had more to offer. Their diets consisted of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, tubers and meats. Obviously the surrounding vegetation was the easiest option for a quick source of calories but when that was scarce, then hunting came into play. Hunting is very physically demanding and takes a lot of patience because it could take several days to be successful in killing a prey. Foraging was also difficult because you would have to forage for hours to be able to finally come across some form of vegetation that was edible. Here’s our first clue! Our ancestors weren’t constantly eating and went several hours if not days without food and they remained active on an empty stomach because their survival depended on whether or not they found a good source of calories.
This is a very interesting aspect that we must pay close attention to because nowadays we struggle to go more than six hours without a meal. We spend those six hours sleeping and as soon as we wake, we eat a bowl of sugary cereal or some other form of calorie dense, high sugar food. The fact that our bodies evolved to be able to go days on end without eating, all the while being able to function efficiently should trigger some form of curiosity in us. Luckily we have science to dig deeper into this for us, which it has and the findings on why we can function without food for a specific amount of time are quite phenomenal!
First off, lets throw out the myth of the body going into starvation mode after ten hours of not eating because no science backs up that claim. “Starvation mode” only occurs after seventy-two to ninety-six hours of not eating. When your body is in this mode it shuts down its metabolism so that it can maintain its body mass and survive. Just imagine if you were out on a hunt and didn’t come across any food for several days, you would need to maximise your resources somehow! Your body is highly intelligent and will adapt to the conditions that are present. Secondly, it isn’t necessary to eat six small meals a day in order to achieve optimum health because again, no science backs this claim up. It doesn’t make you lose weight and it doesn’t speed your metabolism up. Now let’s look at what the science says regarding fasting and what it actually does for you.
On the topic of obesity (weight gain). The reason why the majority of the planet is on the heavy side nowadays is because we’re simply not using up our fuel (fat). The body is designed to store fat in times of scarcity so it developed the capacity to effectively store fat for when we went several days without food. It was during these times of hunting and foraging that we tapped into our fat stores in order to have the energy to remain active. Fat is actually our fuel tank and if you look at the animals in nature you’ll see that it’s quite difficult, if not impossible to come across obese animals. They’re all lean at a body fat percentage of around 6% and this was the case for our ancestors because they consistently and effectively used their fat supply. It’s only today that we struggle to do so because we just don’t give ourselves the chance to use it (due to the constant supply of food).
The body can only use its fat as energy when it no longer has any glucose (sugar) in the blood and in the muscles. Once all of its glucose has been depleted, then it can begin to use its fat as energy. For the body to deplete itself of its glucose takes ten to twelve hours. After that, any activity that you do will begin to use up fat. So why are we told to eat three meals a day and why are we encouraged to eat as soon as we wake up? It’s nearly impossible for us nowadays to have a window where we don’t eat for ten hours because our eating habits have been designed to stop this from happening. We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at intervals of four to eight hours, so that completely destroys any chance of being able to use up fat.
Secondly, we have been trained to eat three meals a day. It’s in our culture to do so because we have adopted the culture of society and we blindly assume that everything it dictates to be the best for us.
Now remember what I said about big business? Let’s just look at the habit of eating breakfast. Where did that even come from? Well, it can be traced back to Quaker oats in the 1800s when they launched their first nationwide advertising campaign. Their problem was that not enough people were eating their oats consistently and this caused their profits to be unstable. They then devised a clever campaign that encouraged us to eat oats because it would provide us with amazing amounts of energy throughout the day. The only catch was that we had to eat them everyday to be able to reap these benefits and the best time for us to eat their oats, was first thing in the morning. And voila, an ingenious way to build a habit in society, that turned a whole nation (and eventually the whole planet) into consumers of a specific product/brand.
Eventually other companies caught on such as Kellogg’s and other big brands, who have given us this ingrained notion that breakfast is a must. This is how powerful advertising is! When you trace back to where this habit came from, you can see that it was implemented over the course of a couple of centuries. The hammering of advertising and the consistent spreading of a specific message finally convinced us that we couldn’t survive without breakfast, which is absolutely ludicrous. Just remember that when you have influential members of society and authoritative figures promoting a message we are more inclined to accept what they propose as true. This can still be seen today in advertising, the media and all other types of public relations. Have you ever wondered why actors, doctors, physicians or musicians endorse products?
On the topic of cleansing the body:
Fasting acts as a detoxing process for the body, which allows it to cleanse itself. When your body undergoes prolonged fasting periods it promotes cellular repair. Your body begins an important cellular repair process and removes waste material from cells. It detoxifies the body, strengthens your immune system and changes the genes and molecules, which relate to longevity and protection against disease. Scientists have been very curious about this aspect of fasting and calorie restriction in relation to how it can actually make us live longer. Just think about it. The fact that your body isn’t being bombarded with chemicals actually gives it a chance to repair itself, instead of having to deal with a whole host of chemicals. Think about what happens when you cut yourself… your body heals itself naturally. Now, we can see that that is happening on the outside but lets not forget what happens on the inside. Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean nothing is going on!
Thanks to studies done on rats and on people we can analyse the results that show that fasting heals us and prolongs our lives. The quickest way to detox is to undergo prolonged periods of fasting because your body will rid itself of the harmful waste and will begin to regulate itself.
One final thing to take into account when in a fasted state is what happens to our human growth hormone levels (HGH promotes fat burning, muscle repair, strength, longevity, anti-ageing, healing, growth and repair). Our HGH increases dramatically by up to 2000% in men and 1300% in women. There is no drug that you can take that gives you these results and some people pay for synthetic versions or chemically engineered equivalents to achieve a similar result (which can cause negative side effects and produces inferior results). Here fasting gives you an increase in HGH for free which will speed up all your efforts to achieve your goal of losing weight.
So what must we do to achieve the benefits of fasting?
It’s not necessary to starve ourselves for days on end so don’t worry! All you need to do to achieve all the benefits of fasting is to not eat for sixteen hours. You’ll then have an eight hour window to fit in all of your daily calories (the rest of the day you remain fasted). You can drink water, tea and black coffee but you can’t add any sugar, milk, cream, honey or artificial sweeteners to your drinks because that will cause you to intake sugar, which will cancel out the benefits.
So, sixteen hours is all that it takes and the best part is that half of the time you’ll be asleep (sleeping counts as fasting!) so all you have to do is not eat until lunch and then you can have your breakfast at noon or 1pm. So, for example, if you have your last meal of the day at 8pm you would then have your first meal of the day at 12pm and that’s it. It’s as simple as that. Another great thing about this form of fasting, which is commonly called intermittent fasting, is that it helps you restrict calories because it now becomes a little bit harder to eat two thousand calories in eight hours. And the quickest way to losing fat is to be in a caloric deficit. So, all of these benefits coupled with a new found ease of reducing your calories will be the biggest key to your success in achieving the body that you want.
I have been using this method for over a year now and I no longer have to think about weight gain. I just follow an active lifestyle like our ancestors and eat between specific times, which gives me an 8 hour eating window and I remain relatively lean without much effort. It’s amazing and I cannot recommend this lifestyle enough. Give it a go for one month and I guarantee the results you achieve will be more than enough motivation to become a raving fan of this lifestyle!
If you really want to achieve the best possible results you can add in a workout right before you break your fast. If you choose to do a HIIT workout (see TIP #2 for further information) right before you eat, you’ll take your health and physique to a peak state in no time!