Hello. PJ here, doing a guest post while Leisa is on a boat with no internet access.
I don’t have the “mad skills” she does when it comes to writing, but I do have a very useful message to tell you, so bear with me and open your mind, because what I have to say is usually a first for most people when they hear it.
It’s really not about the number of calories you eat. It’s all about the TYPE of calorie, and the TIMING of that calorie.
When you wake up in the morning for instance, you are in a fat burning mode, which is great. You are also in a muscle burning mode however, and that is not so great. The reason you are burning tissue is because you have been fasting all night, so your body has run out of food and is starting to feed on itself.
You want to keep your muscle though, since it makes up a large part of your metabolism, but you probably also want to lose some fat, so wouldn’t it be nice to figure out how to shut down the muscle burning proccess, without shutting down the fat burning?
Well, I have good news for you. You can indeed selectively shut down your muscle burning, and leave your morning fat burning mode intact! You can even ACCELERATE the fat burning with certain types of calories.
Protein is the magic potion. This type of calorie has the same “energy” as carbohydrate at four calories per gram, but it has a drastically different effect on your metabolism. Protein in the morning will not only extend your fat burning window further, it will bump it up even higher as well.
Carbs will have the opposite effect and shut down the fat burning window. Most breakfast foods are carbs (i.e. bagels, pancakes, cereal, etc.). An omelet or a protein shake on the other hand, will keep your fat furnace stoked and humming right along.
I’m not a big breakfast fan myself (mainly because I’m just not hungry for the first 4 hours or so after I wake up) so I drink a protein shake. I know I need something in me to raise my metabolism, so I chug my MRM protein powder with water (I know, that’s hard core, but I’ll address that later).
Another option I occasionally enjoy is high protein/low carb Greek yogurt with a handful of blueberries and some Stevia sweetener. It tastes just like full-sugar yogurt, but without the carbs or sugar. A handful of blueberries isn’t enough carbs to shut down my fat burning mode (the cutoff seems to be about 15 grams), and adds some great flavor (not to mention all the other wonderful things blueberries offer, but that’s another post).
People who are used to the vast array of carb choices for breakfast often ask me about variety, because they feel limited when committing to a protein-only breakfast. I ask them right back, “Why do you have to eat “breakfast food” for breakfast anyway? Your stomach doesn’t know the difference. Your brain might however, because you have been conditioned to crave high carb foods.
So what’s so weird about having a nice big plate of meat for breakfast? Nothing, except for your conditioning. If you think your tummy won’t be ready for that, well, you’re probably right, but only because you think that way. It’s just a thought, predetermining how you will feel, and so it happens. There certainly isn’t a physiological reason for it.
Do you think your great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather ate Cocoa Puffs for breakfast? How about waffles? A poppy seed muffin? Coffee and donuts? Of course not. He probably chowed down on a nice thick Woolly Mammoth steak topped with some greens and nuts. We were designed to eat this way, and our genetics haven’t changed since then, so it’s still good, sound principles we should be applying today as well.
I admit that I’m extreme. The way I eat and the habits I have developed took a couple years, but that’s really not a long time when compared to a lifetime. I’m much happier and satisfied now, and I even crave those foods with more intensity than the junk I used to eat.
So what if it takes you 3 or even 5 years to permanently change your habits? The point is that you did it, and that’s the way you are now, instead of the constant struggle and yo-yo weight loss for a lifetime!