In the 8+ years that Davy and I have been coaching people on how to eat healthy, a LOT of people have come to us confused by the information they read on the Internet.
One common area of confusion is about weight loss – particularly when it comes to green smoothies and a plant-based, whole foods diet.
On one hand, we have people trying to apply the traditional philosophy of dieting (portion control, counting calories, etc…) to a whole foods diet, which is unnecessary. Doing that can also set them up for failure on the diet.
On the other hand, we have people who come to us from other natural health blogs. They might have been told that fruit causes weight gain, or that kale, quinoa, beans, nuts – will actually devastate their health.
We constantly find ourselves defending health food (as crazy as it sounds), and providing perspective on alarmist, misleading information published on some of the more fringe natural health blogs.
Lie #1: You have to eat less food, and watch portions, in order to lose weight.
You don’t – if you are eating a plant-based, whole foods diet! It’s not about how much you eat, but what types of foods you eat!
You don’t need to restrict portion size when you eat healthy, whole foods. You really can eat more and slim down while feeling satisfied and full.
The trick is to keep your plate full of veggies along with a good source of lean or vegan protein, and a good source carbs. These foods are nutrient rich and full of fiber, which means they are less dense in calories.
Make sure to drink lots of water as well. Eat slowly so that your stomach has a chance to tell your brain that you are full.
Think of food as fuel for your body instead of food as a bad thing that needs to be managed.
Portion control, and all of the other gimmicks attempt to manage an unhealthy diet in order to lose weight.
Pasta oozing with cheese is still an unhealthy, fattening meal whether it fits into your daily allotment of points, or you only have a tiny portion.
Why not fill your plate with healthy, whole foods that taste great, nourish your body, promote optimum functioning, and keep you satisfied?
Why eat a few forkfuls of an unhealthy food when you can fill your plate with fresh, real food, and then not feel hungry and deprived an hour later?
Lie #2: You need to count calories, points, carbs, etc…
In 8+ years of coaching people to eat healthy and lose weight, I’ve found that most people do not need to track calories/carbs/points if they eat a low fat, plant-based, whole foods diet.
After meticulously adding calorie information to my Reset 28 meal plans, and coaching participants to calculate their daily calorie requirements, they were getting confused, stressed out, and overwhelmed.
So I removed the calorie information from the entire meal plan two years ago. What I found was that participants lost the same amount of weight, while having a more positive experience while on the program.
Tracking calories wasn’t necessary because it’s nearly impossible to over-eat on a low fat, plant-based diet.
Think about everything that you put on your mouth during the course of a day. Now think about having to keep a journal with all the nutrition info. It feels overwhelming, right?
Also, it’s better to think of diet in a more holistic view, rather than something that has to be managed by numbers.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered people who were so fixated on calorie and carb numbers that they weren’t really thinking about what they were eating.
As long as it fits within their daily allotment of calories/points/etc.., it’s good, right?
I mean, yes, bacon is low carb. Marshmallow fluff is a fat-free, cholesterol-free food. You can eat absolute junk and squeeze it into your daily allotted points.
But you and I know these foods are unhealthy (though I see these in the diets of people who think they are dieting by managing calories, carbs, or points).
Being healthy is all about eating the right balance of fats, healthy carbs, lean protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is not just about the numbers.
Lie #3: Hunger is a sign that your body is losing weight.
No, it isn’t. Feeling hunger all the time IS bad for you. It means that your body is going into starvation mode and you aren’t going to lose any pounds – and you’re putting your metabolism at risk.
Restricting calories too much, resulting in hunger, slows your metabolism. This means that you gain more weight even when you eat less.
This is the reason why you often gain weight back, plus a few extra pounds, after you end a diet. It’s the reason why most contestants on NBC’s The Biggest Loser have gained all or most of their weight back after the show.
It can take months or years for your metabolism to bounce back.
Starving yourself isn’t going to help you lose weight over the long term. It will make it more difficult for you to lose weight, and could potentially make you even fatter.
That’s not to say that being a little hungry before a meal is a bad thing. If dinner is in a hour and you are a little hungry, it’s okay to have some water and power though it.
However, if you only had a 200 calorie lunch, it’s not a good idea to starve yourself until dinner.
Lie #4: Fruit makes you fat. It has too much sugar. Fruits are too high in carbs.
Nope. Nope. And nope. Fruit IS a health food.
Fruit sugar will not cause you to gain weight. It doesn’t increase your risk for diabetes. It won’t give you cancer (seriously, some people think this!). It’s a good source of healthy carbs, as well as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
Sugars in fruits and added sugars in processed foods behave very differently in your body. Fruits contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber which mitigate the effects of the sugars, while processed foods with added sugars are unhealthy.
Fruit is a health food. The overwhelming scientific consensus concurs.
Again, that doesn’t mean you should eat nothing but fruit all day, but there is absolutely no scientific reason to cut out bananas, grapes, watermelon, or restrict fruit portions to 1 or two pieces per day.
Lie #5: You need to eat low carb to slim down.
No, but you do need to eat the right type of carbs.
Pasta, cookies, and donuts are bad carbs. Fruits, beans, and brown rice are super healthy carbs that won’t make you fat.
Low carb diets are popular because they are satiating. Eating large amounts of fat (and many of these diets don’t restrict saturated fat) helps you feel full, and keeps you away from pasta, bread, and other weight-gaining foods.
Unfortunately, the most extreme of these diets also lumps healthy carbohydrates into the foods to avoid, which is a disaster.
You can lose weight on a high-carb, whole foods diet and still be healthy because whole food carbs do not spike sugar levels, or get stored as fat the way that refined carbs, or added sugars do.
All carbohydrates are not the enemies of health. Healthy carbs aren’t making you fat. It’s not necessary to maintain a ketogenic state in order to lose weight.
You can absolutely lose weight and dramatically improve your health without placing restrictions on plant-based, whole food carbohydrates (but that also means NO added sugars)!
Weeding though all of the conflicting health information can be hard.
Davy and I have been helping people transform their lives since 2009, and what we have discovered is that healthy eating is NOT about punishing your body just to lose a few pounds. And then praying that it stays off post-diet. It’s about loving your body!
In fact, people who avoid the extreme diets tend to have better long-term success with weight loss, fitness, and overall health.
While diet advice – especially on the Internet – is full of contradiction, and oftentimes misleadingly alarmist, there are basic fundamentals that nearly every expert can agree on.
Those are: 1) Eating more plant-based, whole foods. 2) Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day (walking counts). 3) Cultivating a positive attitude and practicing self love and acceptance.
But it’s 100% up to you, right now, to make the decision to commit to a new chapter that will unleash your true potential.
Davy and I created a no BS coaching program that not only teaches you step-by-step how to eat for optimal health, but how to reconnect with yourself so that you can relieve stress and anxiety to feel more joy and self confidence.
We are handing you the blueprint to optimal health – full meal plans, shopping lists, time saving prep tips for busy people, weekly focuses to help you change the way you look at food and view your body.
It’s all in there. Are you ready to step into your personal transformation?
There is a saying, “One day or day one. You decide.” What day is it for you?
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Hey there! We're Davy & Tracy Russell, the husband-and-wife team behind this website. We help trailblazers break through barriers so they can turn their passion into their life's work through entrepreneurship. How can we help you?