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Isn’t Losing Weight All About Calories?

Updated: Nov 12, 2018

We have been led to believe that weight loss and gain is all about calories. If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. If you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight. This makes sense from a logical, linear perspective. However, our bodies don’t always work from a logical, linear perspective. There are many different systems, biochemicals and inputs/outputs that do not allow our bodies to function that simplistically.

Three Overlooked Keys To Weight Loss

1. Diet

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I know what you are thinking. Diet is not an overlooked key to weight loss. In fact, everyone goes on a diet to cut calories to lose weight. I agree with you about this, but I am going to address diet from a different angle. Losing weight is not as simple as cutting calories. Most people are surprised that they can obtain excellent results by simply changing what and how they eat with no change in calories consumed. Sometimes it even requires that people increase their calories to begin to lose weight.

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So how do we address diet differently? We do so by addressing food quality and nutrient density. Focus on eating real food. Real food like vegetables and fruit can help provide essential nutrients for our health while limiting our exposure to processed and refined carbohydrates. It is also important to focus on protein and fat consumption, like coconut and olive oil, to help with satiety. After all, who wants to be starving and miserable. One study compared the results of for obese postmenopausal women eating a Paleo Diet with those of eating a Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR) diet. Here is a link to see the NNR. [1] Basically, it is similar to what most government recommendations are for diet. The Paleo group experienced greater decrease in fat mass, abdominal obesity and decreased triglycerides despite not being consistent with the protein recommendations. [2]

2. Activity

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Many people that have been struggling to lose weight or continue their weight loss efforts need to work out less. You read that correctly. You may be better off working out less versus working out more days or for longer periods. How can that be? Exercise is a stress on our bodies and it will result in the release of cortisol and other biochemicals. We are also experiencing stress from our jobs, traffic, relationship issues, etc. All of these inputs can lead to overload on our system. Our body will often respond to increased cortisol by increasing fat deposits around our midsection.

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3. Sleep

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Can sleep really aid fat loss? You bet it can. Studies have actually shown that women who sleep 5 hours or less per night gained more weight than women who slept 7+ hours per night. [3] You may have experienced or know someone who has experienced the following, you go on vacation for a week and pay no attention whatsoever to the food you are eating. Yet, you come back from vacation leaner and lighter than when you left. How can that happen? We experience much lower levels of stress while on vacation and we often sleep much more. It seems that these two variables, when dialed in, are more powerful than diet alone. One simple tip that can help with sleep quality and duration is to sleep in a pitch black room. You can buy black out curtains to help and remove any alarm clocks or night lights. And no a sleep mask is not enough. Our skin has receptors that communicate with our brain and play a part in our circadian rhythm. [4]

What Is Your Plan?

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Hopefully you have found this to be helpful and it has inspired you to think about things a little differently. You can use this information to help with formulating your plan. A plan that includes nutrient dense real food, proper levels of activity and focuses on getting restful sleep. If you need help in designing your plan, please schedule a Nutritional Assessment to get started. Also, many people are not sure exactly how to shop and what to buy at the grocery store. After all, it can easily get confusing with all the different labels like “gluten free”, “pasture raised”, “grass fed”, etc. You can also schedule a Grocery Store Excursion to learn what to look for and what to buy at the grocery store as long as you in the local area. Now you have some tools and resources, if needed, to get you started on your weight loss journey!


This article is for educational use only. Nothing contained in this article should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This article does not constitute the practice of any medical, nursing or other professional health care advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions regarding personal health or medical conditions. Never disregard, avoid or delay in obtaining medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read in this article. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, you should contact a qualified health care professional immediately. If you are in the United States and are experiencing a medical emergency, you should dial 911 or call for emergency medical help on the nearest telephone.



  2. C Mellberg, S Sandberg, M Ryberg, M Eriksson, S Brage, C Larsson, T Olsson & B Lindahl. Long-term effects of a Palaeolithic-type diet in obese postmenopausal women: a 2-year randomized trial. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition volume68, pages350–357 (2014)

  3. Sanjay R. Patel, Atul Malhotra, David P. White, Daniel J. Gottlieb, Frank B. Hu; Association between Reduced Sleep and Weight Gain in Women, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 164, Issue 10, 15 November 2006, Pages 947–954,

  4. Beri, K., & Milgraum, S. S. (2016). Rhyme and reason: the role of circadian rhythms in skin and its implications for physicians. Future Science OA, 2(2), FSO115.

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