Tag Archive: weight loss

TDEE Calculator

Below is a calculator I developed to help you determine your TDEE, or Total Daily Energy Expenditure. Just plug in the numbers and you’re good to go!

Activity levels

Sedentary 1.2 – You don’t work out and have a desk job
Lightly Active1.375 – You have a desk job, you work out 1-3x a week
Moderate1.55 – You work out 3-5x a week OR you have a job with some manual labor
Heavy1.725 – You work out 5-7x a week OR you have a job with a lot of manual labor
Very Heavy1.9 – 2-a-days, or a job with manual labor and frequent gym use

A Case Against Breakfast

Let me preface this article by saying “If you’re hungry, you should eat.” Plenty of people wake up ravenous, enjoy breakfast, and go on with their day. Others wake up without an appetite and report that when they do eat breakfast, they feel like crap all morning, or they’re hungry twenty minutes later. Without delving into the “What are you eating? How much? Etc” argument, I’d like to present this little piece of science for those of you who want it. If you find breakfast a chore here’s some ammo to shoot at the pro-breakfast crowd always trying to get in your face. If you’re not hungry, you’re not hungry: end of story. Every body is different.

Let’s start with hormones and waking. Cortisol (click the link to read about it) is a huge part of your sensation to wake up. It gradually rises through the night, and reaches its peak when you open your eyes. Your cortisol is highest in the morning and may continue to rise after you wake up, until about 30-45 minutes later. That’s breakfast time. Here’s the deal with cortisol – it antagonizes insulin. Insulin helps pull the sugar from your bloodstream after a meal and put it into your cells to refuel them. Because of this, you end up with a higher blood sugar than you would normally.

The issue is that with a blunted insulin response your cells aren’t getting the energy they need. Simply put, insulin gives the energy directly to the cells, and cortisol gets in the way of them doing that. If your cells are yearning for energy they’re going to send hunger signals to your brain to encourage you to eat and feed your cells. This is the case with people with chronically elevated cortisol levels as well who have trouble maintaining a normal appetite.

What about the fit person?

A fit person will have increased insulin sensitivity, especially as they lean out. They tend to be very responsive to an increase in blood sugar and quick and efficiently pump out insulin to compensate. These people then see their blood glucose drop faster, and tend to get hungrier faster. This is exacerbated in the fasted morning states with a high cortisol. You have an extremely active pancreas pumping out insulin and being countered by cortisol, so you’re pumping out more. This can mean a dramatic decrease in blood glucose. Not so much as to cause hypoglycemia, per se, but enough for your hunger signals to fire up just a short time later.

But why does this not affect ALL people – why are some people breakfast lovers and others aren’t? The level of cortisol in your blood is highly dependent on a lot of factors. Some people simply do not have a high enough level of cortisol to counteract any of the breakfast-induced blood sugar problems. Others, such as diabetics, have a need for a regular blood sugar management. Every individual is different, which is why I say again – if you’re hungry, eat!

Lastly, let’s look at a very specific study targeted at the traditional “If you skip breakfast you’ll gain weight” hoopla. This study was a 16 week controlled study in overweight and obese adults, one group ate breakfast, the other didn’t. Between both groups the average weight loss was 1.18 kgs vs. 1.17 kgs. Essentially, the results showed little difference in weight loss between breakfast eaters and non-breakfast eaters.

So, as I said earlier – eat if you’re hungry, don’t eat if you’re not. If you find breakfast is detrimental to your state of mind (no one likes being ravenous at 9am!) then skip it. It’s your individual choice.

Cortisol – A Love Story?

Cortisol is one of those hormone buzz words that is making its way around the diet industry right now, especially in respect to how it helps or hinders fat loss. People advocate for a stress free lifestyle in hopes that you lower your cortisol levels, or talk about exercising during the morning or the night depending on your cortisol levels, or even not eating breakfast because of its effect on cortisol. I think before you make a decision on what to believe, you should get a little more information about cortisol and what exactly it does.

Cortisol is a hormone that comes from the adrenal glands, which are located right above the kidney. It really has a few main functions: raise blood sugar through gluconeogenesis (making “sugars” for your body to utilize when it doesn’t have any carbs immediately), to suppress the immune system (which is why you use them with some allergic and autoimmune conditions), and also to help with fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.

When the diet industry is talking about cortisol they usually are referring to its role in gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis (breaking down glycogen, the stored form of carbohydrates in the liver, for energy). This is where things get tricky – cortisol can both help and hinder these scenarios. For example, long-term elevations in cortisol can lead to muscle wasting. While cortisol does break down fat, it’s also shown in some conditions to SUPPRESS the break down of fat.

Like stated above, cortisol is released in times of stress. If you’re running away from a bear cortisol is one of the hormones that tells your body to stop digesting your food and start running…fast. Cortisol is also a hormone that tells your body it’s time to wake up, which is why it’s highest in the morning.

Cortisol literally has a hand in every body system you can think of. From counteracting insulin to controlling diuresis, cortisol is involved. When you’re reading studies or claims about how cortisol will help or hinder your lifestyle don’t think of cortisol as a bad hormone. Remember instead that hormones exist in a balance in our system and we must pay close attention to how they make us feel. If you feel like you have a medical problems that may be related to excessively high or excessively low cortisol it’s important to contact your doctor and schedule an appointment.

Remember, like anything there are no “good” or “bad” hormones, foods, etc. there are only imbalances in the system.

A Case For Letting People Diet

Whenever a friend or family member (or Facebook friend) mentions starting a new diet – vegan, vegetarian, paleo, Atkins, whatever – there’s always a knee jerk reaction to say “Diets don’t work!” Those of us who’ve made peace with our eating habits are the first to scoff and say things like, “Just eat less crap” or “Just eat less” or even “You’re going to gain it all back.” But here’s the thing – how many diets did it take us to reach these conclusions? How many times did we “start over” with our diet or choke down salad 500 times a day? Some of us were born into families with happy balances with their food and bodies that never needed to “diet.” In reality, though, majority of people struggle with this.

So why should we let our poor friends go through this?

First of all, think of yourself some two, five, ten years ago. For some of you the “Eat less crap” would have been a light bulb moment that lead you into a life of health and happiness. For others, it would have been met with blank stares.  Remember the first time you proclaimed you were going on a diet. Imagine if one of your well-meaning friends told you, “You’re doing it wrong, idiot!” How many of you would have taken their advice? How many of you would have punched the jerk in the face?

To a lot of people the journey is really where they pick up invaluable information about themselves. Sometimes it takes going on a ketogenic diet for someone to learn that their body NEEDS carbs (or that going low carb was fantastic for them). Maybe they fall off the wagon because it doesn’t work, but when they decide to diet again they have the background knowledge. They’ve learned that they can’t do diet X against because of Y and Z, so next time they find something else.

It’s this long, often frustrating journey that people have to embark on to gather their own series of experiences to shape their eating and exercise habits in the future. When they eventually find their inner peace it may or may not be with a mainstream diet. Maybe they did just “stop eating crap” or maybe they’ve decided Paleo is perfect for them. Who are we to judge? There are plenty of people who stick to these mainstream diets that we parrot “fail” because it falls in line with their personal preferences. A lot of these diets come with cookbooks and meal plans that can save our friends time, money and energy. They give guidance and direction in a diet industry that throws out so much conflicting information.

Next time a friend goes on a “diet” try to avoid being THAT asshole that tries to convince them otherwise. Let your friends experiment with food and recipes and exercise and be supportive. Let them see how their body reacts to different types of food and support them when they’re low. Don’t try to sabotage them to make a point – they’re your friends!  They need to embark on their own journey to reach the same inner peace that you have.