The one about "burning calories"
Restriction gets you nowhere. So how's about we chill on calorie burning being the thing.
Just dropping a content warning, folks.
This post talks about calories and intentional weight loss.
Intentional weight loss is not my bag and so if you’re looking for weight loss tips and discussion, it isn’t here. But the calorie burning conversation has been giving me an allergic reaction and so it needs to go in the trash. Please take care reading this.
This is how fucked the fat loss industry is.
The energy (kcals, kjoules) written on the back of packets of food can be out by 20-50%.
So if you are attempting to lose weight by counting the calories of the food you eat, perhaps by scanning barcodes and using My Fitness Pal or similar, you’re immediately not off to a great start.
Nearly twenty years ago a book came out into the world called Skinny Bitch.
It was horrific.
It was abusive.
And when Victoria Beckham was photographed buying a copy, sales of it went up something like 37,000%.
The 90’s and early 2000’s were an era of thinness and non existence eyebrows.
Thankfully we’ve recovered some. Our eyebrows are definitely better!
And while we seem to have chilled on the obsession with being skinny, there has been a resurgence of fat loss coaches on TikTok and they are frothing at the mouth over calorie deficit.
What’s annoying is that what they are spouting over calories isn’t wrong.
But it is taken completely out of context.
We digest food, we don’t incinerate it. The ideas of ‘burning’ calories isn’t accurate at all. Our body reacts to foods in entirely different ways. The cooking of food in different ways has a different reaction for different people. Nutrition labelling isn’t a perfect system, either. At best it’s a confusing mess unless you’re a food scientist working in a lab.
If it were so easy as eat less and move more, everyone trying it would be successful.
But it isn’t easy.
Especially when you are not in a healthy state to start with.
Dehydration, crap sleep, stress. Perhaps perimenopause. Perhaps you have a leaky gut. Perhaps you have absorbent issues. What if you are deficient in nutrients, or your sugar in blood rate isn’t doing well. Is your iron shot to hell? Blood pressure through the roof?
The list goes on.
For the TikTok fat loss coaches, losing fat is easy when you are not fat to begin with.
And the billion dollar wellness industry seems to think that if you reduce your size all of the problems above will go away and you’ll become healthy.
Many of the frothing fat loss coaches have realised they can’t get away with talking about thin bodies for funsies anymore. So they say it’s for health reasons.
And so they’ve brought out their air fryers (which are rad by the way, no shade there), and they are air frying the shit out of kilos of chicken, and covering it with low cal sauce to have some demonstrable evidence, that if people just ate kilos of chicken and kilos of high protein yoghurt, they’d all move some fat off their bodies and everyone is happy again because they have achieved ‘health’.
Are they right?
Like, no babe. They aren’t. Health is unique to an individual person, not a group of people sharing a weight range. You cannot look at one person or a group of similar people and know they are healthy or unhealthy.
Size does not equal health.
If it’s health you want to improve, focusing on intentional weight loss isn’t it.
Moving your body is.
Getting good sleep is.
Eating well, so we are hitting all those nutrients that our body is craving for.
Drinking a shit tonne of water during the day
Reducing stress is huge if not the most important out of all of these things.
And I get that my view on this whole thing is super polarising. Sorry, not sorry.
Quit telling people to lose weight.
If the TikTok fat loss coaches want to be really useful, they will find out ways to help with the things that actually matter. And if weight loss comes as a result of that and the person is ok with it, then good.
You can be a range of sizes and be healthy, just as you can be a range of sizes and be super unhealthy.
I’m not convinced that if you live in a bigger body, that it automatically means you’re not healthy. I’m also not convinced if you live in a smaller body, that it automatically means you’re healthy.
Firstly, we should probably define what healthy is. This isn’t hard or fast here, exceptions exist all over the place, and I’m also not a doctor.
For me, (personal reckons ahead!) a good state of health is most of us being able to move freely because our bodies were kinda designed for that. It’s also having a healthy heart that doesn’t have to work too hard to pump blood around your body. It’s also having reasonably clear arteries and I say reasonably because when you get to mid-age, pretty much everyone has some sort of plaque present in their arteries. Good health to me is having a manageable level of sugar in blood.
Even if you don’t have those things above, you can’t move freely, and your blood pressure is super high - does that make you unhealthy?
Who am I to tell you what is healthy and what is not.
You can be hitting all of those random health markers above, but your mental health is supremely fucked. Are you healthy? Probably not.
If you’ve been following along for a wee while, you’ll know it will forever be my life’s work to stop the bullshit in this utterly cooked health and wellness industry.
But… people can do whatever they want. Just because I know intentional weight loss sucks a lot from so much lived experience and what I know from my minimal study, we still have to give courtesy to people who feel otherwise. Right? People can change their body however they wish. I like to change my body with tattoos, others like to change their body via its composition.
I apologise for the late delivery of this post. I aim for a post a week, but sometimes life gets in the way and in my case a nasty chest infection.
The next piece I’m working on is bariatric surgery. You’ll be surprised on my reckons on that!
Ngā mihi, take care
Thanks for reading this newsy. I really appreciate the time you give to me for this and I hope you get some value from it. If you have any questions you can reply directly to this email or if you’ve landed here from a link, email email@example.com. You can also follow me on Twitter here, and instagram here.
Please remember while I am a qualified fitness trainer, and I’ve done a couple of nutrition papers, I am not a registered dietitian or nutritionist. Information shared here is through my own lived experience, personal study or a peer reviewed study I have nerded out on reading and sharing with you.
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