You can lose weight on any diet. This is a simple fact and has little relevance to factors we should care about. Just eat less calories than you burn. Done. A nutrition professor even proved this by losing 27 pounds on a Twinkie diet. However, it is abundantly clear this is unhealthy, and it doesn't account for how extremely hungry you would be every second of the day.
To formulate an actual dietary strategy that's going to work longterm, the only things we should be talking about are:
CAN YOU MAINTAIN THIS ENJOYABLY?
DOES IT GIVE YOU PROPER NUTRITION?
When we focus on this, the dietary strategy becomes pretty clear. It’s all about SATIETY and NUTRIENT DENSE foods. Luckily, these go hand in hand.
Nutrient Density Meets Satiety
When eating nutrient dense whole foods you naturally will be full and will most likely be getting all your body needs nutrient-wise. Humans have naturally regulated their appetites this way for all of history. I believe it's almost impossible to become obese if you are eating 100% whole foods like our ancestors would have done. Unless you have an unlimited supply of honey, it would be hard to overeat enough over a long period of time to actually accumulate large stores of excess fat.
On the other hand, the more processed a food is, the easier it is to overeat. Processing can mean any alteration, whether is be cooking, grinding, seasoning, or combining with other ingredients.
Each level of processing adds to greater palatability and overconsumption
There's a lot of context to this. Grinding a steak into ground beef doesn't make it less healthy, although it could make you eat more than you would have normally eaten if it's also seasoned to perfection. There's also the context of your goals. If you are at your goal weight, you can have greater leeway when it comes to your food choices. Many people need to create restrictions to change their relationship with food and create a dietary strategy to lose weight. On the opposite end of the spectrum, people who eat only raw foods actually tend to be underweight. You need to find a balance that works with your preferences, tendencies, health conditions, and goals.
Plant foods have the most negative effects when mechanically processed. This breaks down the cell walls and structure. If you'd like to learn more about this please listen to Gabor Erdosi on episode 21 of the Peak Human podcast. It changes the hormones signaling in our small intestine, the glucose gets absorbed faster, and there are many negative impacts to our body. It’s more than just the fiber being removed from the apple when you drink apple juice.
There’s also the hyper-palatable effect of adding seasonings and doing things like roasting almonds. These things tend to make you eat a lot more. Basically all packaged foods have this effect and have been engineered by food scientists to make you overeat.
The bottom line is eat foods in the most un-altered form to lose weight. The more weight you need to lose, the more you should be eating foods in their whole form.
You can't talk about satiety without mentioning protein. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient and should be the star of every meal. I promotes satiety by triggering the release of signals that tell the body you’ve had enough and you don’t need to keep eating. These include hormones such as cholecystokinin (CCK), glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), and peptide YY (PYY) all of which promote satiety. Protein also has another trick up its sleeve - your body burns a lot of calories merely digesting it. This is known as the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF). Protein has almost double the TEF of the other macronutrients. This means you’ll have an easier time burning off calories (and therefore losing weight) when eating protein.
Standard Diet Advice
Every standard dietitian’s advice I’ve seen is based around eating a similar “balanced diet,” but with just less food. So their genius plan is just to make you hungry all the time? How else do they expect people to constantly eat in a caloric deficit?
It's bewildering that people in the weight loss field don't realize that the type of food you eat determines how full you are. Here’s a little hint - there’s a certain food that naturally keeps you full and has a ton of bioavailable nutrients - it's called a steak.
The problem is, mainstream dieticians have been taught an outdated and inaccurate view of nutrition. It's all they've ever known, and it's hard to shake beliefs like: we need fiber in our diet, salt is bad, saturated fat causes heart disease, meat causes cancer, vegetables are miracle foods with no downsides, or the concept of a "balanced diet."
Once you realize that none of these are true, things make a lot more sense. When you understand the superior nutrition bioavailability of animal foods and yes, shockingly, the inferior nutrition bioavailability of plant foods, your views of nutrition start to change. When you realize plant foods actually have anti-nutrients that can cause a lot of harm to us while also blocking absorption of vitamins and minerals, conventional view get shaken. When you realize almost all of our science of nutrition has been done under false ideas of needing carbohydrates and a "balanced diet," you understand that maybe we can't trust all the studies that have been done.
We know high carbohydrate foods (especially high glycemic and processed foods) lead to a blood sugar rollercoaster and your hunger to return again a few hours later. We know animal foods have the greatest nutrient density and bioavailability. We know carbohydrates are a non-essential macronutrient.
When we combine all of this info we realize we don't need a "balance" of all 3 macronutrients, we don't need tons and tons of plants in every meal, and we shouldn't shy away from red meat. We now can come up with an entirely new dietary strategy that maximizes for satiety and nutrition.
So What Should I Eat?
The simple answer is whole foods with most of your calories from animal sources. This means meat, eggs, fish, and some low-sugar fruits & vegetables. This is what we're calling a Sapien Diet - It's how we believe humans are supposed to eat for optimal nutrition, along with many other things like weight loss/weight maintenance, sustained energy, brain health, disease prevention, and a long and healthy life.
This also means eating nose to tail. The most nutritious parts of the animal are often the least popular in Western Diets. This includes the liver, bone marrow, other organs, and even the brain. Take a look at some of the most nutrient dense foods compared to some commonly thought of healthy foods like apples or bananas: The Perfect 5 a Day by Dr. Zoe Harcombe.
We know it's hard for some people to include organ meats and bone marrow in their diet so we've created a grass fed meat delivery service that sells products like Primal Lite Ground Beef. This is grass finished beef with liver, heart, kidney, and spleen mixed in. It's really delicious and provides a ton of vitamins and minerals you cant get from standard muscle meat. Find out more at NoseToTail.org
The great thing about eating this way is that it's delicious! Full-fat foods like a thick steak or a juicy lamb chop is so satisfying. It's almost feels like you're cheating. So eat up and enjoy life!
Stay happy & healthy!