I’ve joined a few communities on FB so I can understand the fat loss consumer better. I couldn’t have been prepared for what I learned.
The first group I joined was a group on weight loss tips. Over 100k members from all over the continent who were seeking guidance on their journey. Most of the members were genuinely trying to lose weight but many were also professionals in the industry who were looking for clients. Entrepreneurship is a tough gig so I get that. What I was NOT prepared for was the rampant misinformation being spewed, not only from well-intentioned members on their own weight loss journey but fitness professionals.
One, in particular, was a man in his early 20s who was a PT who spent a lot of time at the gym personally as well as professionally. He had a 20-year-old man’s metabolism and activity level and the advice he had to offer was great – for people exactly like HIM. But, he wasn’t giving information to people like him – he was giving information to men and women of all ages, activity levels, and metabolic conditions.
There was a 40-something woman who was asking for advice on determining her calorie intake. She was 5ft 2in, sedentary, and about 30lbs overweight. He led her to a macro calculator which determined her intake to be about 2200 calories. I knew off the top that was far too many calories so I decided to enter my own information into it to see just how off it was. I am 5ft 8in, 43, and only light activity at the moment. It calculated my calories at 1982.
For reference, I was a competitive powerlifter prior to my daughter’s birth. I had a lot of lean muscle tissue, as a competitive athlete would, and trained 5 days a week. My training days were 60 minutes of hard training with heavy weight, low reps, many sets, and moderate rest between. My training day macros were 2300 calories/day. At that intake, my weight remained stable which is where I wanted it. On rest days, my intake was 1650 – EVEN with all that lean muscle tissue. So, if I consumed 1982 calories on my sedentary days today, I would gain 2.5lbs per month and 32lbs/ year. That is NOT ideal!
Another group I joined was one for women with PCOS. I, too, had this. I learned I had it at 17 and in my mid-20’s had a cyst rupture and surgery shortly after. I was told I would need intervention to become pregnant but my ob-gyn didn’t tell me to do anything but keep my weight stable. No special diet, no avoidance of any foods – just keeping my weight stable. I had been under and overweight my entire life and at the time of my rupture, I was overweight. I then lost about 75lbs and within two years I was no longer symptomatic, My cysts were gone – and I was pregnant! I was as surprised as my doctor was.
What I learned in this group is that there is a very strong and firm belief that those with PCOS are to avoid carbs entirely to lose weight. They’re ordering supplements, even avoiding certain types of exercise because they believe that contributes to their condition as well. I was SHOCKED at the misinformation I was reading and the conviction with which these women advised one another.
One woman said she’s been eating less than 20g/carbs per day for 6 months and she gained weight not lost. Some told her that’s just the “curse of PCOS” and no matter what she does she’ll never lose it. Others told her her calories were too low and she was in starvation. She was 5ft 5in, 230lbs and eating 2400 calories per day and not exercising because her specialist told her exercise is bad for PCOS. That is not starvation. She was eating easily 1000 calories per day more than her body needs.
First, let me explain how fat loss actually works. Fat cells are produced by your body when your energy intake is higher than your energy output and your body needs to put that energy somewhere. This is done by producing thousands of fat cells which are stored all through our bodies. Where they are stored is based on genetics. This is biochemistry – not opinion.
In order to reduce body fat, we must force the body to utilized those stored fat cells by putting it in a state that it requires more energy than it is getting via food so it is forced to access stored fat as fuel. The fat cell never disappears – it only shrinks. This again is biochemistry – not opinion.
I have a client named Jennie who came to me with PCOS as well and I recently blogged an interview with her where she explains her experience with weight loss and PCOS and the poor advice she was given over the years. She is now also symptom-free. Click the link above and read for yourself.
Here is what I want you to consider:
Every body has different caloric needs based on a number of factors. If you have a history of engaging in a binge/restrict cycle, you’re going to have more hormonal factors to consider when determining your base metabolic rate and that can’t be guessed using a random macro calculator on the internet. If you have conditions like thyroid dysfunction, you will also have challenges. But trust me when I tell you that you absolutely CAN lose body fat and it doesn’t require a specific diet.
I know it’s also popular to begin diets like keto or intermittent fasting when we feel like nothing is working. There are plenty of documentaries on both claiming these diets are superior to all others and that somehow there is this magic involved in this type of dieting.
Here’s the thing – NO diet can work if it isn’t producing a caloric deficit. Most of the women who posted their food diary logs in the groups I mentioned showed them eating in excess of 2k calories/day where they simply don’t have the activity, lean muscle tissue, or metabolic activity to support it. So, they gain and say “keto didn’t work for me”. Same with calories in vs calories out. Many women had said they tried to log calories but gained as well. Do you know why? When you log your exercise in these apps they give you more calories in your log – which these women then ate. So, the deficit they produced with exercise was being negated by increasing their food. Remember, no deficit – no fat loss.
Look, I know how hard it is to lose weight. I was once a consumer of the fat loss industry as well. I have been sold every gimmick – every fad – and claimed that “nothing worked” for me, too. I wish I could say that those in my industry all had great intentions and are out to help people. But, as a consumer of the industry, I can tell you that just isn’t true and it never will be. There will always be people out to make a quick buck.
So, I want to tell you how to avoid the bottom feeders of the diet industry.
- If they’re selling a product or supplement – run. There is no magic and anyone who profits off of products with no scientific merit is a bottom feeder – period. They may be very nice and they may look perfect – but they are preying on your lack of education in the industry and it’s not your job to know the science of weight loss so you shouldn’t be faulted for that.
- If they post memes that say “no pain no gain” or imply that fat loss should be excruciating and your failure or struggle is weakness – run. One of the biggest problems with this industry is the black-and-white thinking that leads clients to lose control of their relationship with food in the first place. If black-and-white thinking broke it – it will not fix it. Those coaches cannot meet you where you are. They cannot provide you with a shame-free environment to LOVE YOU for WHO you are RIGHT NOW. And you have to.
- If they claim there is biochemical magic in fasting or keto that produces fat loss faster or even in not in a deficit – run. They drank the carb-free kool-aid and that shit is poison.
- If they tell you clean eating is the answer and you eating a cookie each day is the cause of your weight gain or the reason you can’t lose weight – they’re probably also a psychic in their spare time. There is no science there and you should not trust someone who relies on outdated myths to give you scientifically sound information.
So, there you have it.
Professionals in my industry are a dime a dozen and still, many of them are discounting themselves even further. You get what you pay for, friends – in all things. Of course, I’m going to tell you that I am great at what I do – but there are others like me. Whomever you choose to guide you on your journey, make sure their first priority is your self-worth. You cannot hate your way to change and no good coach is going to feed you shame.