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How To Lose Weight Without Counting Calories

Is there a way to finally gain control over what you eat, lose some body fat and get healthy in the process? There is so much controversy around nutrition it can be almost impossible to know where to look. What you need is a simplified approach. Read on to find out more.

Weight Loss (until January 14th...)

We've all seen it, even though we personally have never done it (ssshh, I know, me too, it can be our secret). Someone determined to finally drop that 10 kilos that's been following them round for the last 10 years. Next thing its revolting green smoothies, skinless chicken breasts and hours of slogging away on the treadmill at the gym. Lets face it, this works great- for about two weeks. Then the New Year's motivation fades, the green smoothies become a cheeky pinot noir, and the skinless chicken breast regains its skin (and eleven secret herbs and spices). Any weight lost is regained and then some, seemingly just minutes after the backside finds its way back to the couch. It all went so well for those two weeks- what went wrong?

I'd like to suggest some reasons why this well intended approach often fails to deliver in the long run. Lets get the obvious out of the way first- green smoothies taste predominantly like ass. Just admit it. I know you're being sooooo healthy with your kale/ginger/spirulina/pea protein combo that 'actually tastes quite nice when you get used to it'; we all know the truth - It. Tastes. Like. Ass. Only slightly higher up the taste totem pole from your ass-shake is skinless chicken breast. Hey chubby! The dammed chicken died to give you sustenance, the least you can do is not waste the delicious crispy skin...

As for pounding away on the treadmill for 45min with a look somewhere between pain and desperation on your face, honestly, I'd rather just be fat. Look, I'm not saying running is a bad exercise, in fact, it can be a fantastic exercise. If you are fit to run and you like it, by all means have at it. Its just as a way of losing weight it is over-rated. In fact, as a way of losing weight, all exercise is over rated. The most improvement you will see in scale weight comes from your food. Notice I said 'scale weight', not fat loss. Where exercise comes in is making sure that the weight you do lose comes from fat as much as possible while sparing your muscle mass.

Ok so how does one do it? The internet abounds with theories of what and how best to lose weight. Should you go keto? Count calories? Go vegan? Low fat? No matter which particular path you choose, there will be a million people to point out how and why you are doing it wrong and why another way is superior. There is so much noise it can be nearly impossible to decide what to do.

For a simpleton like myself, I like a simple approach. And I need to be happy with what I am eating. Otherwise I know I will never stick to it. While I have been known to track my macros/calories when I'm serious about my physique goals, I also know that weighing and measuring every item of food puts some people on the fast track to neuroticism and an all you can eat rebound orgy of chocolate cookie fudge ice cream and Natural Confectionery Company Forbidden Fruits

Oh, Oh, Oh, Oooh Yeaaaaahhhh!!!

The Plan

So, here's the plan

1. Start with protein

2. Eat at least one vegetable with every meal

3. Get your carbohydrates mostly from fruits and vegetables

4. Eat only when hungry and only foods that agree with you

5. Follow the 80/20 rule.

Told you it was simple. Let's look at each in a little more detail.

1. Start with protein.

An easy rule of thumb is to aim for 2 grams of protein per kilogram of your goal bodyweight. So if your goal weight was 75kg for example, you would shoot for 150g of protein per day. There is roughly 1 gram of protein in every 4 grams of animal products (in this case I am referring to meat and eggs), therefore you would need to eat around 6oog of animal products per day. People quite often freak out when they hear this, after all haven't you heard red meat gives you cancer!!! Without going in to all the reasons why this is asinine, the biggest mistake I see most people making is under eating protein (I'm referring to people who are trying to eat healthy, not those of us who treat shoveling down caramel Tim Tams like a sport). I am aware that different meats have different protein contents and that this is not an exact measure, please refer to my earlier comment about obsessive weighing and measuring... I have found that simply going off the weight on the package and calculating back from there works fine (remember this is for people wanting to lose some fat, not bikini competitors or bodybuilders).

2. Eat at least one vegetable with every meal.

Self evident really. Or can you screw this up? I guess if you really tried to its possible. Yes you can overshoot calories smashing buttery mashed potatoes etc, so lets not pretend that's what I meant by vegetables. I'll qualify that with eat at least one vegetable that grows ABOVE the ground with every meal (these have a much lower carb content). Enough said. If you hate vegetables then too bad, either stop being a baby and eat like a grown up (or just throw all sensible dietary advice out the window and go straight carnivore).

3. Get your carbohydrates mostly from fruit and vegetables.

On the whole fruits and veggies are much lower in carbs than starchy sources like rice, pasta, potatoes etc. It's actually relatively difficult to overeat carbs from just fruits and veggies. No carbohydrates are not the devil, but if you want to lose weight you have to lose some calories from somewhere. I find my energy to be more stable and hunger to be much more manageable when I remove more carbs instead of more fat.

If you are an athlete in a physically demanding sport and are unable to forgo carbohydrate dense foods like rice and pasta etc due to your sport/exercise requirements then it is advisable to consume them directly around hard training sessions/games. This way they are more likely to be used to replenish the glycogen stores in your muscle, rather than be stored as fat. And no, sorry for the rest of you, 3 sets of bodyweight lunges, a 30 second plank and 20 minutes on the eliptical machine does not qualify as hard training.

4. Eat only when hungry and only foods that agree with you.

Ever since some stupid study came out comparing the effects of either six small meals of real food, against two liquid meals a day, dietary dogma states that you must eat multiple small meals throughout the day. Apparently this is in order to 'stoke the metabolic furnace' or 'keep your fat burning mechanisms revved up' or some such bullshit.

Anybody who still thinks this doesn't really understand the metabolism at all. In fact, over millions of years of evolution, your body has developed an incredibly sophisticated tool to let you know when it is precisely the right time to eat for your physiology. Its called hunger. 'But Evan, shock horror, won't I kill my metabolism if I don't eat the 'most important meal of the day' at precisely 7.30am?' No. No you will not. In fact, eating because of some arbitrarily designated time, instead of when you are truly hungry puts you out of sync with the natural rhythms and signals from your body and may make you more likely to overeat.

The second part to this point is to only eat those foods that agree with you, those that you find easy to digest. Does a food give you bloating? Excessive amounts of gas? Bad skin? Other digestive distress? THEN DON'T EAT IT. Yes, I know kale is a super-food, but it actually gives me a sore stomach. For me kale is more like a 'liquid-pooperfood'. For you it may be chicken, or eggs, or broccoli, or a number of different foods, but if they don't agree with you then simply don't eat them. If it is considered the healthiest food on earth, but doesn't do well with your particular physiology, its likely doing you more harm than good.

5. Follow the 80/20 Rule.

Simply put, 80% of the time you should attempt to eat whole natural minimally processed foods. The other 20% of the time you can have a little leeway to incorporate less than ideal foods. This is not an excuse to eat like a shithead, just to let you live life a little along the way.

Say you eat breakfast lunch and dinner every day, that would be 21 meals across the week. 80% would be 17 or so meals. That means for 3 or 4 meals in any given week, you can loosen up and have something you normally wouldn't include. Just don't go full Lardass Hogan...

So that's it. My no-track-still-lose-some-fat eating plan. Feel free to try it out. If you are serious about revealing a 'shredded six pack', this plan probably won't get you there. If that's what you really want, honestly its probably time to break out the trusty kitchen scales for some good ole' trackin'. If however you want to lose a bit of weight without being super restrictive and still being able to enjoy your life, this may well be the ticket. You might even see some sneaky abs starting to peak through...

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