7 Principles for Permanent Weight Loss (part 1)

Although there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” diet, there are specific ways to up your odds of losing weight and keeping it off permanently.  It’s estimated that over 90% of diets fail, but by incorporating these 7 principles, you can significantly up your odds for success. This requires that you look at food more than the “It’s all about calories” mindset. So although calories are important unless you’re relatively lean (under 21% body fat for a female or 12% for a male), making these changes will lead to better and more lasting results than counting calories.  In addition, if you follow these guidelines, you will naturally be lowering the amount of calories you’ll be eating without having to actually count them.

In the end, the more you incorporate these 7 principles, the better off you will be.  Today’s post will touch upon the first three Principles that make up the bulk of any successful long-term weight loss plan. Let’s get started.

Principle # 1 – Eat a lot of Protein

In the past, protein was thought to be exclusively for those with bodybuilding pursuits.  Now though, as more and more research comes out, protein intake is just as important, if not more, for those looking to lose fat.

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Here are the 5 main benefits from upping your protein intake for fat loss:

A – High protein intake helps maintain muscle mass and keeps your metabolism high. 

If you were to go on a diet, without exercising, about 40-50% of your weight loss, would come from muscle.  Therefore, when someone loses weight quickly, they tend to lose a lot of weight the first time they try a diet, but only the first time.  The reason for this is because not only are they losing fat, but also a good portion of muscle.

This turns out to be a very bad thing for long-term weight loss though, as lean body mass (muscle) is important to keeping your metabolism high.  In general, the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be.  Therefore, when people lose a lot of muscle when they diet (especially the first time around), they end up slowing their metabolism.  This sets them up for a weight gain rebound and will often end up heavier than when they originally started.  The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to up your protein intake.

B – You have a “Protein Threshold” that needs to be hit. Research has shown that people will over eat carbs and fat until a certain “protein threshold” has been met.  In other words, people will eat tons of pasta and bread and butter, and be hungry a few hours afterwards(and therefore overeat with calories), if they don’t reach a certain protein level.  On the other hand, if someone overeats with steak, they won’t be hungry for quite a while.  This is when the protein threshold has been hit and when that occurs, people will stop eating naturally.  One of the best ways to control cravings is to ensure that you’re eating enough protein throughout the day and with every meal.

C – It is the most filling of all the macronutrients.  Eating lots of protein not only helps people stop eating naturally after a certain threshold is met, but also has been shown to be one of the most satiating of all of the macronutrients (carbs, fat, or protein).

For example, if you eat 600 calories of chicken breasts, than you would have ate a pound and a half of chicken.  Most people couldn’t eat a pound and a half of chicken in two sittings, no matter one sitting.  If you did end up eating that much, you would be extremely full.  Contrast that chicken to 600 calories from pasta with sauce and it’s really no comparison.  People regularly eat that much without any issue. In fact, people who eat that amount of pasta can be hungry an hour or two later.  That wouldn’t happen with a pound and a half of chicken.

D – Protein takes the most energy to digest fully.   To keep the comparison between chicken and pasta, with the 600 calories of chicken breasts your body would need about 20% of those calories just to digest the chicken. That would leave you with a net of 480 calories from that meal.  Contrast that to the pasta which would use only 5% of the calories to digest and that leaves you with a net of 570 calories.  Therefore, although you technically ate the “same amount” of calories, how much energy your body expends to digest the food can add up to a considerable difference over the course of the day.

E – It is almost impossible for protein to be converted to fat.  The enzymatic pathways to convert protein to fat are nearly non-existent and a person would have to over eat a ton of food for that to occur.  This doesn’t mean that you won’t use protein for energy, which can increase the likelihood of other macronutrients (carbs and fat) to be converted to body fat, but protein almost never will.

Add it to Your Life:

If your goal is to maintain your weight:  Eat 1 gram per pound of lean body mass (your weight minus the amount of body fat you have).

If your goal is to lose weight:  Up your protein intake to 1 gram per pound of body weight.  Depending on how extreme your diet is (how many calories you’re cutting), you may need more and you should combine it with resistance training to limit any loss of lean body mass.

Ensure you do these three things:

I – Try to eat the protein.  This means although protein shakes can help you move closer to your total protein goals for the day, most of the protein and benefits from eating protein (the higher digestive needs)comes about from actually eating protein, not drinking it.

II – Eat from a complete source of protein.  This means any meat, fish, eggs or dairy.  Four ounces of most meats have between 16-25 grams of protein (think a deck of cards) and eggs have about 6-7 grams per egg. Try to get at least 20 grams with every meal (if not more).

III – Try to get the protein from an organic source.  If you were to purchase anything organic, meat is probably the most important (more important than buying the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables organic).  Animals are higher on the food chain and store toxins in their fat.  So if the animals have been eating foods that are laced with pesticides, they tend to get stored in their fat.  In addition to that, it has been shown that humans can become resistant to antibiotics from the meats that have used antibiotics.  If you can’t afford or choose not to go organic, purchase lean meats. Think chicken breasts, turkey breasts and lean cuts of pork and red meat.  Eggs are less important in this regard.

 Principle # 2 – Feed Your Healthy Bacteria

I know some people that after reading that first principle might be hesitant to accept it at face value.  Often times people will say something to the effect of, “Isn’t too much meat bad for you?”  Or they’ll ask, “What about vegetarianism or veganism?  How do they get enough protein?”  These are valid questions and only in the past couple of years has research started to highlight “why meat can be bad.”

For years, it was thought that meats were bad because of the fat it had, but that has been disproven for a majority of the population.  So has the theory that eggs are bad for you because of the cholesterol.  Research has consistently shown that dietary cholesterol (the cholesterol you eat) does not affect blood cholesterol levels.  Let me repeat that, dietary cholesterol (the cholesterol you eat) does not affect blood cholesterol levels.  High blood cholesterol levels can be bad, but that is usually more highly influenced by the carbs you eat, not the fat.

So if the fat in meats and the cholesterol aren’t what make these things unhealthy, the question is, are they unhealthy?  The answer for this is, “It depends.”

The reason it depends is because of a factor unrelated to either fat (including saturated) and cholesterol.  In fact, the research has started to highlight that the bacteria you have in your gut can react with the substances in meat to create a higher level of inflammation within your body.  The higher inflammation then can create an unhealthy situation for the person eating the meat.  This is where the quality of the meat becomes an important factor to your overall health, as the organic meat isn’t laced with antibiotics which has the potential to disrupt the bacteria in your stomach.

So for those who avoid meat, this may be why they start to feel better.  If you go from eating meat and not that much vegetables, to eating a lot of vegetables, then you’re doing something really good for your health.  This is the case, not because you got rid of meat, but instead because you added the vegetables. You see, most of the research has also shown that people who eat a lot of meat, tend to eat a very low amount of vegetables.  Yet, one of the best ways to feed the healthy bacteria in your stomach is to eat more vegetables.  (I will delve more into this on the next tip).

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Before going any further, it is important to recognize that humans are no longer considered a single entity.  Instead, we are considered a “Super-organism” because we “are not alone.”  In fact, research has shown that we are more bacteria than we are human, at least when it comes to cells and genes that we walk around with.  Genetically we are 99% bacteria and 1% human and from a cell stand point, bacteria outnumber us on a scale of 10 to 1.  In other words, for every cell in your body, there are 10 bacteria cells in your body.

The bacteria we carry around with us has been shown to have huge implications in our overall health while being correlated to such wide-ranging issues as autoimmune diseases, asthma, inflammation and obesity.  In fact, did you know that without looking at a person or knowing their weight or height, there is only one way that has a 90% accuracy rate of predicting whether or not someone is obese?  You can look at people’s food logs and not be able to tell.  You can look at someone’s workout logs or activity tracker and not be able to tell.  You can look at a person’s genes and not be able to tell.  The only way that scientists have discovered to be able to predict whether or not someone is obese, without looking at them, is from looking at the bacteria they have in their colons.  This is the only method that has over a 90% accuracy rate.  That’s how important one’s bacteria is when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off.

Here’s the thing, what we eat and how we “feed” the bacteria in our stomachs determines the types of bacteria that we have.  That bacteria then has the power to influence your immune system, which then has the power to control the inflammation you have towards certain foods.  Those inflammatory signals then have the power to modulate how well your body and brain are “correctly hearing” the signals it needs to hear in order to burn fat.

If you remember how leptin signals need to be heard to be effective, then this is one of the best ways to ensure that happens.  In other words, control inflammation and your body and brain are better able to respond to the hormones that it’s sending out.

Add it to Your Life:

A – Wake up and take a high count multi-strain probiotic (At least 15 billion per serving) Not all probiotics are created equal and you don’t necessarily need more strains for it to be effective, but just starting here will not fix all your woes, but it’ll be a start.

B – Eat fermented or cultured foods at least twice throughout the day, if not more often.  My favorites are naturally fermented sauerkraut (Bubbies Brand) and Kimchi.  Since the sauerkraut and kimchi are vegetables, you can add them to any meal, and usually with meat.  If you tolerate dairy well, then I would opt for an organic yogurt or Kefir.  The Latta brand also makes a Coconut Milk Kefir, while Kombucha is another drink that is a cultured food with healthy bacteria.

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C – Eat foods high in resistant starches.  The easiest way to implement this is to simply add a teaspoon of potato starch to some water (it has no taste), stir and drink.  Other foods high in resistant starch are bananas (the less ripe the better), garlic, onions, artichoke hearts and other vegetables.  The bacteria in your stomach (and really the whole digestive system) is fed from the by-products of the fermentation that occurs from the fiber present in fruits and vegetables.  Resistant starches feed the “healthy bacteria” in your stomach exclusively and don’t help to feed pathogenic bacteria.

D – Don’t be scared of a little dirt from organic sources.  If you know a local farmer, with organic practices, eat some vegetables with just a little dirt on them.  Humans have been doing it for eons and that healthy dirt is where a lot of beneficial bacteria reside.  This is probably the hardest to do in urban settings, but not impossible if you get a food sharing program from local, organic farmers.

Principle # 3 – Eat Lots of non-starchy Carbs

“Non-starchy carbs” are better known as vegetables.  Vegetables have a slew of health benefits, from feeding the good bacteria in your stomach (that’s what a lot of the fiber does), to having lots of vitamins and minerals, along with a ton of healthy, detoxifying co-factors.

As I’ve said in the past, nearly any and all vegetables can be considered a “super food” and as such a good variety of them should be included every day.  The sad reality though is that the most often consumed vegetables are potatoes (from chips and fries…and they are starchy), lettuce and onions.  Beyond that, only about 11% of the American population eats at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Research has estimated that before agriculture, people use to eat on average, 60-90 grams of fiber per day.  Sixty to ninety grams of fiber per day is more than most Americans eat in a week and yet, the USDA’s recommendation is that people get 20-25 grams per day.  Even with that very low amount of fiber, close to 90% of the population doesn’t get it.  Now, I am not a huge fan of veganism or vegetarianism, but they do get one thing absolutely right – They eat more vegetables than the average American.

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Here are the top 2 reasons to add more vegetables to your diet (and to eat a good variety of them):

A – Helps feed your Healthy Bacteria.  The most common thought with fiber is that it adds “bulk” to your stool, but in fact, the major benefit of fiber is that it feeds the healthy bacteria in your stomach.  Have you ever wondered why only some people get sick when there’s an e. coli outbreak, and not everyone?  It’s because some people have compromised guts and when e. coli comes in (although they are  already in your stomach) their digestive system gets overwhelmed.  These are the people that get sick.  Other people, have more beneficial bacteria in their digestive systems to fend off those “invaders” and in doing so, stay healthy, without incident.

A good amount of vegetables you eat will get fermented in your colon and are turned into short-chain fatty acids.  These short-chain fatty acids help both give you energy and feeds your healthy bacteria.  In other words, your body converts vegetables to fats, which provide health for the whole “super organism.”

B – Helps you feel full. Calorie for calorie, vegetables provide you with the most volume of food.  For example, if you ate a pepper, carrot, three stalks of celery, a cucumber, and 4 florets of broccoli you would have about 100 calories of food.  Compare that to a “100-calorie snack pack.”  Granted, you may not enjoy those vegetables as much as the snack pack, but there’s no denying that if you want to lose weight, vegetables are the way to go.  Knowing how to cook your vegetables or when to eat them raw is the best way to make food taste significantly better.  Therefore, if you’re literally full from the vegetables, you’re at a much decreased risk of going for a snack that you don’t need to eat.

Add to Your Life

Try to eat vegetables with every meal.  There are literally 100’s of ways to add vegetables to meals since they basically can go with any meal.  For breakfast, a veggie omelet with some broccoli and mushrooms can work.  For lunch salads or salad bars are quite popular and ubiquitous.  Dinners are easy as some stir-fried vegetables (or cooked any other way) is one of the easiest things to add.  Simply chop some vegetables, put some organic coconut oil or butter and cook it over low heat for a little bit.

For example, one of the easiest meals for me is mixed vegetables with some organic beef.  Use two pans, melt a little coconut oil in one and throw in a whole slew of vegetables.  The greater the variety of vegetables, the better.  You can include peppers, onions, garlic, red cabbage, bok choy, spinach, squash, etc.  In the other pan, cook the beef to your liking and at the end, dump all of the vegetables into your beef pan mix up and enjoy.  This literally takes 20 minutes and can be done with really any type of meat (chicken, ground turkey, beef, etc).

Snack on vegetables.  With the warmer weather approaching, a cut up cucumber and tomato or pepper can be refreshing and simple.  Other easy to prepare vegetables are carrots and celery.  You don’t need anything but the vegetables and possibly some sea salt for added flavor.

The “Core 3” Principles

If you get nothing else from this post, then get this:  If you start every meal with a high quality meat and as many non-starchy vegetables as you can eat, you will be well on your way to improving your health and setting yourself up for permanent fat loss.

In closing, there will always be some people that can get away with eating like crap and be fine, but that doesn’t mean that it would give you the best odds of seeing the health and permanent weight loss that you want to see.  Thus far, I’ve only touched upon the foods you should be focusing on and if you followed nothing else from the 7 Principles of Permanent Weight Loss, you would be well on your way to seeing the results you want.

For Part Two, please go here.

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