Healthy Eating Doesn’t Make You Lose Weight

Healthy Eating Doesn’t Make You Lose Weight

So you're trying eat better, but the weight isn't coming off? You're not alone. Here's why “healthy eating” alone doesn't work for weight loss.

The Truth About Healthy Eating

Getting healthy does not guarantee weight loss, and thinking that way may be getting in the way of you reaching your physique goals.

I know that for many ladies – weight loss and the journey to become more “healthy and fit” coincide.  And the line is often blurred, with so many “health” foods, gadgets, and supplements being marketed as a magic solution to make you fit, trim and lean. But the thing is, those things are not one in the same. So here's a few things to consider if you want to be healthy and lose weight.

Weight Loss Basics Still Matter

Most of us have expressed the desire to be more fit and healthy as if they're the same. We tend to assume that being healthy and losing weight are the same goal and, depending upon the information you consume, that thought is likely being confirmed.

Maybe you've experienced going to the doctor and constantly hearing about how you need to lose a little bit more weight to help solve some problems that you have in an area that has nothing to do with weight loss, like a knee issue, back pain, or fertility. We've often heard that if we lose weight, it will help. And while losing weight does affect blood markers, that does not mean that getting healthy and losing weight are the same.

Think about it.

There are so many loving, caring moms out there, who only eat organic foods.  Some grow their own vegetables, and even grind their own  grains, almonds, etc to make bread and other whole grain or gluten-free products. Yet they rarely lose weight, and many are gaining!  This may even describe you, a person doing alllll the healthy things, but not seeing the scale move the way you want it to. This is because a healthy diet does not automatically equate to weight loss.

Many ladies assume that as long as they eat clean, healthy, or organic, that calories don't count. The reality is that you may see beneficial health improvements from an extremely healthy diet, but not see physique changes. This is because gaining or losing of fat and muscle require either a surplus or deficit of calories:

 

If you are trying to lose weight and are eating an excess of calories, even if those are the most amazing healthy organic calories, they're still going to cause weight gain. If you are eating maintenance level calories of the most nutritious foods on the planet, you are still eating maintenance level and will stay the way you are. If you're eating less food, you will probably see the scale go down or some weight shredded off, even if it's “junk” food.

 

If you want to be healthy and lose fat, you need to eat healthy at a calorie deficit.  If you're going to gain muscle and be healthy,
you will have to increase those same healthy calories, to put yourself in a caloric surplus.  If you're someone who is on the fence – you want to lose a little bit of fat but eating super healthy foods isn't all that important to you – good news! you still can lose weight and not be eating 100% healthy, clean and organic.

That's why it's essential to know both ends of the spectrum. The reality is, it doesn't matter how healthy you are if you're eating too many calories, and it doesn't matter how unhealthy you are if you're eating fewer calories. You will probably still lose some weight, whether or not that is a healthy weight that you're losing.

So if you can find a healthy medium where you're doing both, that will be the best-case scenario mainly because you are tailoring it to yourself. You can be “kind of” healthy, hitting your macronutrient level by eating a sufficient amount of treats, even if those things are what somebody else might consider junk food.

As long as you're hitting the amount of protein and fiber your body needs and hitting the calorie level for your specific goal, then you can still see progress. This should give you both hope and a reality check!

Getting “Fit” vs Getting Lean

The second thing that I would say to consider when we're thinking about being healthy is that being fit is not the same as being leaner or thinner. As I said in the first point, someone can be unhealthy and underweight. So assuming that because someone is skinnier than you means they are healthy is just not the case.

If you are taking excellent care of your health and body, working out consistently, eating healthy foods like whole grains, vegetables, and high protein, you are a healthy person even if your weight does not reflect that. On the contrary, some people are not exercising, not eating the healthy foods, getting insufficient protein, and not correctly fueling their body; even if they are underweight, that does not mean that they're healthy. Knowing this allows us to have the freedom on our journey to do what it is that we set out to do.

How does this relate to your goals?

Well, if fat loss is your goal, understand that exercises that are “heart-healthy,” high endurance, or make you feel good may not actually be related to your goal of a physique change.

Your endurance may improve, but endurance and fat loss are not the same. Having a “healthy” heart does not automatically equal a smaller body size.  So if you're attempting to lose some fat, you may need to adapt the style of exercising accordingly.  This means specifically executing fat loss behaviors, such as hitting a certain amount of protein, eating a certain amount of calories, doing some strength training workouts (your best friend when you're trying to lose fat because it helps you hold on to muscle mass and keep your metabolism nice and high), and sometimes – limiting cardio for periods of time.

Sure…If you're only looking to be healthy, then that means you can do whatever exercise makes you feel good.  Get your heart pumping and get those endorphins…

Just remember, endorphins don't cause weight loss.

So..what do you really want? 

When you start to see fit/lean and healthy/weight loss as separate entities, you can begin creating the goals that you want, knowing what to expect from the actions that you're taking. If you're looking to lean out, then it's about understanding what the basics of fat loss entail and making sure that those are incorporated, regardless of your health goals.

You can have a health goal, and you can have a fat loss goal. Just make sure that the actions and expectations align. That means you should not be upset when you eat healthily, exercise a lot, and see physique changes. Don't say, “I just want to be healthy again,” when you mean “I just want to be the size that I was.”

Remember that your journey has different seasons, and each phase brings something new.

When you are in a muscle-building phase, you are looking to build muscle. You're not necessarily looking for fat loss.

 

When you're in a fat loss phase, you're not looking to build muscle. You're looking to lose fat and hopefully hold on to some of the muscles that you had.

 

There's also the Chill phase when you're not looking for anything. You're not paying attention to what you eat. It's a time to relax, be more intuitive, and have some mental freedom from tracking food all.the.time. BUT…that means you're not expecting fat loss. You're not expecting muscle gain. You're not expecting anything. You're just taking life as it comes because your focus is on mental clarity, relaxation, and not having to log everything.

 

It may seem nitpick-y to spell the differences of these phases out, but when you're working your butt off to get results, it helps to make sure that you are getting the terminology right to express what you are looking for.

The terminology you uses indicates where your mindset is, and can be a huge indicator of why you're not seeing the progress you want. So don't be afraid to sit with the question “what do I REALLY want” and answer it unapologetically – even if it's “unpopular.”  I get it, we live in a society right now where either side of the fence can be looked at as horrible.  One community is shouting, “Love yourself the way that you are, don't ever try and change anything.” But then another community is telling you to change everything about yourself because “You suck, you're fat. You don't belong in this society.” The person who wants to enjoy life and not be concerned over their weight is shamed for being “unhealthy”, while someone else who wants change how they look is made to feel bad about it.

I see so many ladies don't want to admit their actual goals, for fear of being excommunicated from the self-love community, or health-shamed.

Find your happy medium!  What are your standards of beauty? Own it, even if it's unpopular with another crowd. You're going to be 100% unhappy if you're in one camp shouting “Rah, rah!” when what you REALLY want is the results of another camp.

If you want to lose fat, there is no shame in that.  If you are pleased where you are and want to be healthy, there is no shame in that.

If you want both, then be honest with yourself and do what it takes to make the two of those things align in a way that works for you.

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5 ways to take home workouts to the next level

5 ways to take home workouts to the next level

**How to avoid the biggest mistakes that most home exercisers make**

I've always been an advocate for having a home gym setup in case of emergencies.  But for some people, working out at home is the reason why they DON'T see the progress they want.

With more of us working out at home than ever before, there are even MORE options for the home exerciser than everrrrr before. Nearly every gym is offering “on-demand” options online, and every fit pro on IG is providing “quick and easy” moves you can do with little to no equipment from home.

IF you're working out at home for only a week or two, then feel free to take FULL advantage of testing any and every idea or option available right now.  Use this time for getting in YOUR movement any way that you can, and discovering styles of exercising that you didn't know even existed to see if you find something you like. Give yourself the gift of variety at some point of your journey, it can be just the thing you need during high stress periods, or for a quick break from your usual (more strategic, less variety) workout plans.

However, physique adaptations can happen in as little as 3 weeks, so plan accordingly.  Rest weeks and planned downtime can be an amazing gift if you've been running yourself into the ground – OR – it can be the nail in the coffin of your goals.

IF you will likely be working out from home for LONGER than 2-3 weeks, have a back up plan.    

To make the best of your at home workouts, and assure you get continual, compounding results even during the quarantine, avoid these 5 mistakes most home exercisers make: 

1) Not taking your workouts seriously. Just because you're home, doesn't mean you get to slack off/do laundry between sets (ok…so I'm talking to myself on that one! 🤣)

2) Being Random. Workout with a purpose. Once you're out of the newbie phase, random Pinterest/homemade, etc. workouts won't have the same effect that they used to.

3) Not progressing. When a workout gets easy, or you can lift heavier, etc…do it! Just because you sweat or can still “feel the burn” doesn't mean it's “working” in the way you think. The only way to keep seeing changes is to make an effort to progress in your workouts.

4) Not changing it up. Doing the same exercises/workouts/videos is not going to have the same results in Month 6 that it had in month 1. Don't be afraid to move on (even if it's just for a little while) when the workout is no longer serving you (or… if you can quote the video word for word.)

5) Not giving yourself room to grow. Make it a point to purchase heavier weights, incorporate new videos, or other equipment that allows you to make the exercise harder over time.  Don't stifle yourself by refusing to equip yourself for the next level.

Remember, if it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you! 

Why Increasing Calories in the Winter is Beneficial

Why Increasing Calories in the Winter is Beneficial

Increasing calories is an important aspect of building muscle. As we discussed in a previous blog post, you cannot build muscle and lose fat at the same time. So there should be a point in your year where the focus is on building muscle, and winter is usually a great time to do just that.

Increasing Calories in the Winter

There are two major reasons for increasing calories in the winter – maintenance eating and building muscle.  For most people, there is a natural tendency to “fall off” dieting in the Fall and Winter.  Because the urge to increasing calories is normal during these colder months, it makes sense to utilize this for muscle building.  By doing so, this sets the stage for success in the Spring/Summer when fat loss is desired. In addition to heeding natural tendencies, taking an extended diet break during this period gives your metabolism a chance to heal/re-boot from cut phases.

(Remember: Over time your metabolism adjusts to whatever calorie level you're eating consistently. So if you are in a cut for too long, that caloric level becomes your new maintenance.)

A winter reset (eating at maintenance) actually helps your metabolism to heal, giving your body a good amount of time to “remember” where TDEE is before another cut is attempted. During this time, many in the fam will choose to eat in surplus of their TDEE (Bulk). Bulking gives your body extra calories, which helps to build more muscle. Whether you eat at maintenance or bulk during the winter, either will help achieve greater fat loss in the spring. Too many dieters think that restricting calories for many many months will help get to goal faster. The truth is, without taking those breaks – you often feel as if you look worse because of the muscle loss from non-stop dieting. Just remember, you can't show off muscle in the summer, if you haven't built the muscle under the fat in the winter (or at some point throughout the year!).

It's no secret that muscle building phases can cause some gains on the scale and “puffiness” on the body (as muscle builds underneath the fat layers, pushing it outward).  In many parts of the world, winter tends to be the time where layers of clothing are worn. Those heavier sweaters, hoodies, sweatpants, blanket scarves, etc provide the perfect opportunity to stylishly “hide” areas you'd rather not flaunt, while you get down to business (building muscle).  By fully embracing this as a time of year for muscle building, you can fully enjoy your fat loss phase in the spring and summer (with the benefit of increased metabolism!).

Be sure to take advantage of the colder months to rest, recharge and take a break from a reduction in calories. But do so with purpose (not simply “I'll start over in Spring!”). Tracking calories and paying attention to your macros are still very important during this time. Be sure to enjoy yourself, but remember that maintaining now allows for a successful cut later.

 

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Vegan Protein – How much for fat loss?

Vegan Protein – How much for fat loss?

Vegan protein almost sounds like an oxymoron. Protein mainly comes from animals or dairy, two of the largest eliminations from a vegan diet. So it almost seems impossible to get the suggested 30% of protein in a day in order to maximize fat loss. Many EM2WL vegans may think that this exempts them from the protein recommendations, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

Vegan protein vs. vegetarian proteinVegan protein levels can be hard to accomplish. But it is not impossible, nor should it be excusable.

It's no secret that vegans and vegetarians can have a harder time hitting their protein macro. But it is not impossible, nor should it be excusable. Vegetarians have a slightly easier job because they can still eat dairy and eggs. Vegans however have to get a bit more creative when it comes to protein.

Nuts, seeds tofu and legumes often become the main focus for a vegan lifestyle. These items can certainly help fill in some of the vegan protein gap, but they also tend to have higher levels of fat and carbs attached to them. This means that the ratio can be harder to balance out for those striving to hit physique-specific goals.

For example, beans have a high level of protein, but the carb level also increases by 4x. This could mean that the beans carry 10g of protein, but the carbs could be 50 or 60g. This makes it very hard to hit macros such as 40/30/30. Vegans would need to pay closer attention to their vegan protein source, and it's carb/protein/fat ratios to ensure that balance and still maximize their ability to lose fat.

Vegan protein levels can be hard to accomplish. But it is not impossible, nor should it be excusable.

Awareness is key. Simply knowing to pay attention in these areas will begin to open your eyes to items that may have been right under your nose all along. For example: many EM2WL vegans have found ways to increase their protein intake with simple swaps of plant based bread products. These give a much higher level of protein than regular bread. These can be a little hard to find locally, but if you are an international shopper you could try ordering from Here.

When it comes to balancing your macros, the only thing to keep in mind is that, for fat loss, protein should still hit that 30-35% mark. Vegans actually need to eat slightly more than a carnivore when it comes to getting in protein, simply because of the kinds of proteins they eat. They don't process the same as meat and dairy do.

Allow carbs and fat to fall where they may, based on personal preference, so long as the protein hovers above that 30% mark. For a vegan this may take some time, (ok a LOT of time) to work your way up to that percentage, but the higher that level can get, the better off a muscle-keeping, fat-loss-seeking vegan will be.

 

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Diets and Deadlines: Female Fat Loss Struggles cont..

Diets and Deadlines: Female Fat Loss Struggles cont..

In our previous blog post, we discussed three main reasons why many women struggle with fat loss:

– Women are more focused on “weight” loss, rather than fat loss.
– Hormones can play a big role in how fast and where the fat loss can occur.
– Women generally have a lower muscle mass than men do.

While we could have certainly ended the conversation there, (solving any one of those issues could result in a shift in fat loss for most ladies), we feel compelled to bring the topic home by pointing out the elephant in the room: The Diet Mentality.  Even if most ladies understand the central theme behind developing a less stressed, “muscle-based” mindset, they still want to go about solving their fat loss issues with extreme diets and unrealistic deadlines.

Diet Preferences

When we choose to diet in a way to lose “weight,” (remember reason #1!) we typically select very extreme methods to do so. (*cough* 1200 calorie diets!)

Whenever you embark on a low calorie diet your body is forced to make less food spread farther, so it often has to make budget cuts to survive (literally).  Because muscle requires more calories to maintain, extreme “budget cuts” can put those precious muscles you're striving so hard to hold on to, in jeopardy.  When the body is faced with a low calorie (especially low protein) diet – it has to break down muscles in order to “find” the protein it needs to survive (essentially getting rid of those dang “expensive” muscles, so that the budget can spread further!).

Most women (whether on a diet or not) prefer a high carb, high fat diet with very low protein incorporated.  When coupled with little to no resistance training, and repeated bouts of super low calories, many women are living in a perpetual “muscle wasting” lifestyle.  Rejecting the 1200 calorie insanity, and increasing the protein is a great starting point for most ladies seeking fat loss.  Protein not only keeps you fuller longer, it helps to keep the metabolism from burning up the proteins in our muscles, thus making our workouts more effective, and allows the muscles to build up instead of break down.  Once weight lifting is sprinkled in, it's icing on the cake! (Note: I didn't say anything about getting rid of cake…)

Patience!!

Because many of the diets that we tried in the past helped us to lose weight “fast,” it's honestly tough to NOT lack patience. Thanks to our microwave society, we tend to want alllllllll. the. things. RIGHT. NOW.  We can’t understand why men can lose weight so quickly, or why younger women are dropping pounds faster than us.  The media knows this, and makes sure to taunt/target/tempt us regularly with quick fixes (and we just keep taking the bait- even when we know better). We want things that happen as fast for us as they did in the past – to have the losses we did when we went on our first diet.

We say we're willing to do “whatever it takes” — but never for “as long as it takes.”

Having patience is about being willing to build/maintain muscle mass and actually stop stressing about it. It means focusing less on weight loss, more on fat loss.  It's about finally settling in and doing things right by your body.  It's about reaching your goals in a no-nonsense way that does not backfire in the long run: eating enough food, eating enough protein, getting enough fiber, lifting and doing workouts in a way that are built to maintain the muscle mass you already have, and maybe even encourage more muscle growth along the way.

So there you have it. The five biggest reasons why women tend to struggle with fat loss.  So remember this on your journey to a better and healthier you. Dieting will lead you down a path of never ending gain/lose cycles, constantly frustrated with the lack of progress. The goal of the Diet Mentality is to make you stop enjoying your life to its fullest. A change in your diet focus, throwing the scale away, and taking the time to build your muscle mass back up while living your life now, will all put you down the path to success. The path just winds along the rose gardens, rather than plows right through them.

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Female Fat Loss  – The Struggle Is Real

Female Fat Loss – The Struggle Is Real

Why is it harder for women to lose fat?It's not your imagination.  Women have fat loss struggles that seem to elude their male counterparts. Many of us have been known start to the “hey let's do this diet together” – only to end up frustrated when we plateau and they…don't.  Of course this is an oversimplification of gender (not all men lose fat super easily — but dang it sure feels like it at times!), but men definitely have a few advantages over us.

Over the next two articles, we'll explore five main reasons why women have a harder time than men when it comes to shedding the fat.

Weight Loss

Women are often more focused on weight loss over fat loss, which means they pay a lot of attention to the scale. And if you're constantly looking at the scale, that can skew what you think is progress. Men tend to not be focused on the scale when it comes to their weight. Most of the time, men just do one or two simple things and the weight seems to fall off of them (more on that later!) By eliminating the need to see a number on the scale, men do not get as obsessed about a certain “goal number” than women do.

You can lose weight in almost any way. You can lose weight by losing muscle mass, or water, or you can even lose a limb and see the scale drop. If the loss is coming from fat, then it actually keeps your metabolism on track. But if that loss is coming from muscle, it's actually slowing your metabolism down, which is what happens to a lot of people.

Hormones

Obviously we all want to blame gains on hormones and whine “Women have it so much harder!!”  Our hormones are more sensitive to stress than men's hormones may be. So when we add stress into mix, (because let’s face it, we are more prone to stress about things) our hormones actually react in a way that stops us from losing weight. It actually causes us to often gain weight, especially in the belly. Women normally tend to hold onto fat in the belly area, but when under stress this area refuses to let any fat go. (This is referred to as a “Stress Belly”)

Guys may have a hormonal advantage because of their testosterone, but if we keep our stress levels low, we can use estrogen to our advantage, and help trigger the fat loss. Unfortunately, most forms of extreme dieting exacerbate stress – lower calories, higher exercise exertions, constant weigh ins, are all forms of stress which can, in turn make it incredibly hard for women to lose fat, especially in the belly area.

Muscle Mass

Another HUGE reason for why it's easier for guys to lose weight than women is because of their muscle mass. Women naturally have less muscle. The time our muscle mass is at it's highest is when we are young teenagers. That is, unless we do something about it – unless we choose to actively seek a lifestyle that builds and maintains our muscle mass. We want to see that scale go down because we think the scale is what is going to make us skinny. This typically means that we're not focused on muscle mass.

You can be losing fat even when the scale isn't moving! (read more..)

Just like Melanie, you could be losing fat even when the scale isn't moving!

Muscle equals metabolism, so when we start putting on muscle mass, the scale may not move at all, or even go up.  It's mentally tough to put focus on our lovely new muscle gains when that darn scale is going up/staying the same, so this is where we tend to self sabotage.  When it comes to muscle, you can actually gain weight AND look better because the increased metabolism will help you burn fat even faster, burning calories at rest. Muscle is what keeps everything toned and tight and compact underneath your skin. Simply losing weight doesn't do that. If you lose muscle you may get smaller, but you get softer looking. (skinny fat)

Releasing the grip that the scale has on you, managing your stress/hormone levels, and focusing on building muscle mass are three major keys to conquering the female fat loss code.  In our next post, we'll touch on two other ignored-but-critical factors that play a major role in female fat loss.

click here for part Two!

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