I’ve got some news: we’re bringing back weekly Q&A!
I was getting a little overwhelmed with all the questions for a while there, and so I’ve been mostly handing them off to all our Facebook friends to help answer them. Which is great—I love the team effort! But I thought for ones which I really want to give my $0.02 and provide a more in-depth answer myself, I could start answering them as a blog post. That way, they will be easy to refer back to if others ask similar questions in the future, and eventually we’ll have a whole directory of Q’s & A’s for anyone to search through. Sound good? Let’s get started!
Question of the Week
“Hi! I really need some advice. I have been taking 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil a day, eating grass fed butter with my food and drinking whole milk now and I am gaining like a pound or two a day!!!! I am now 25lbs over weight. I got online and it seems this is happening to a lot of people who who switch to a “eat fat to lose fat” diet. Likes it’s just another fad that does not really work…. I had so much hope because it made so much sense. Any advice? Thanks so much.
Ah. The Eat Fat, Lose Fat diet. Lots of people are a fan of this Sally Fallon endorsed weight loss plan, but, I’m not surprised that you’re finding it isn’t miraculously causing your weight to melt right off.
I know there are people who won’t like the fact that I’m saying this, but basically, YES—you are right. The idea that you can eat as much fat as you want and lose weight IS a fad, and it IS flawed.
Why? Because calories still matter.
If you’re eating the same amount of food, doing the same amount of physical activity, and are now adding in 500+ calories from fat every day to it, then you’re at a calorie surplus. Are all calories the same? No. Some are more thermogenic than others. However, the basic premise of energy balance—calories in versus calories out—as the primary factor in body weight management, is biological fact, and I really wish people in the alternative nutrition sphere would quit ignoring this, and stop perpetuating the myth that calories don’t count. They do. Food quality counts too, but calories are energy, and if that energy is not used, it is stored as fat or muscle, depending on your physical activity.
Now, obviously, I am all about the saturated fat. I’m a huge fan of coconut oil, whole milk, and butter (duh). However, I am not an advocate of simply cramming in as much of these healthy fats as possible, at the advice of a health guru. If you truly are craving these very large amounts of fat, then by all means—listen to your body and eat them. But I don’t think it’s wise to eat huge amounts of fat as a weight loss tactic. I believe eating balanced is always best.
Restricting fat is bad. But swinging to the other side of the pendulum, and eating as much fat as you possibly can, creates an imbalance of other nutrients. Eating a balance of fats (making sure most are saturated, while minimizing PUFA), proteins, and carbohydrates is essential in maintaining a healthy metabolism.
If you are gaining weight this rapidly, my guess is that you’ve been dieting for a while, and this is your body’s attempt to build back up some reserves due to depressed metabolic function. Any time you do the restrictive dieting thing, then start eating good amounts of food, weight will pile on pretty quickly. It’s usually more just your glycogen stores and water weight (as opposed to actual fat) that are contributing the the sudden increase on the scale, but, if you’re sustaining a significant caloric surplus—a positive energy balance (calories in, calories out)—then you will gain either fat or muscle tissue depending on your physical activity. On the flip side of that, if you sustain a negative energy balance, you will lose weight. But that will happen a lot more efficiently if you are eating to support a healthy metabolism—balancing your diet between the macronutrients, eating high-quality food, and giving your body the right amount of fuel as caloric energy.
- If you’re looking to lose weight, figure out where your body stands metabolically, first. You can heal your metabolism with simple dietary and lifestyle changes. Take your temperature. Is it low? Start focusing on what you can do to reduce physiological stress—eating an appropriate amount of calories in a balanced diet, getting an appropriate amount of physical activity, and getting (more than) enough sleep are key.
- Find out how many calories you need to consume to support a healthy weight for your body, based on your activity level and other important factors, by going to this site: Total Daily Energy Expenditure.
- As for the coconut oil, I do think you can continue to use it as a tool to aid in weight loss, by boosting the metabolism. I was able to raise my body temperature (and metabolism) significantly just by eating moderate amounts of coconut oil. I don’t think that the recommendation to take coconut oil in Eat Fat, Lose Fat is such a bad idea, but in my opinion, slamming down 2-3 tablespoons every day as a dietary supplement is possibly excessive. Simply switch your cooking fat to coconut oil when you can, and if you want to be consuming more of it, try my tasty coconut oil chocolate or tortilla chips!
- Understand what to expect while rehabilitating your metabolism. You may gain weight, but this is part of the process of healing. Trust that eating the right amount of food to sustain a healthy weight will result in getting you to that healthy weight eventually. You simply cannot continue to gain weight in a caloric deficit—this is basic biology. Science, yo. Be about it.
For you, Ciara, I recommend reading Diet Recovery 2, by my friend and independent health researcher, Matt Stone. This is my go-to recommendation for anyone who has struggled with restrictive dieting, and has tried everything in the book to get to a healthy weight, only to be left with a bunch of health problems and weight that won’t budge no matter what. Diets don’t work. This book teaches you why, and tells you how to fix your metabolism so you can truly recover. Matt also does an excellent job explaining all the health effects of both a healthy and unhealthy metabolism, and what to expect while you go through the process of raising metabolic rate. Very helpful so you won’t have to worry about the temporary changes happening in your body that can be discouraging at first.
Another resource I highly recommend is The Nourished Metabolism, by my friend Elizabeth Walling. This book approaches the topic of metabolic health from more of a holistic and whole-foods-minded perspective, which many of our readers appreciate. It is also much more straightforward—a simple how-to guide that lays out all the steps you need to take to get your metabolism where it needs to be. It is a perfect companion to Diet Recovery 2
Finally, this next book is an absolute must-read. Taking Up Space, by my friend Amber Rogers, of Go Kaleo fame, is the clearest, most concise yet amazingly informative guide out there for managing a healthy weight. The byline is: “A Guide to Escaping the Dietary Maze,” which I think is so fitting. It’s so confusing, all the conflicting information out there, but what Amber presents is a simple, scientifically-based solution to meet your health and weight goals. Amber doesn’t give you a bunch of rules for what you should eat and exactly how you should work out—she makes it simple, flexible, and easy to determine your own unique dietary and activity needs. Definitely get this book. And go like the Go Kaleo Facebook page, like now.
Taking Up Space is available on Amazon Kindle, which you can still read even if you don’t have a Kindle with the Kindle Reading Apps.
UPDATE: Right now, Taking Up Space is only $2.99! I don’t know how long it will be available at this price, so get it now for less than 3 bucks while you can!
[easyazon-block align=”none” asin=”B00C9VC9OI” locale=”us”]
Got a Question?
Send me a Facebook message, email, or comment below. I try to get to as many questions as I can, but it can take a while to sort through all of them. Thanks for your patience!