Weight Loss Without Restriction

April 29, 2023

Are you someone who is on a diet right now or been on a diet in the past in order to lose weight? Maybe you’ve been on a restrictive eating plan and felt like you were white knuckling it the whole way through? Today we are going to talk about that loaded word “diet” and how to go about losing weight while still feeling satisfied and satiated after eating. We’ll cover how restrictive, low calorie, low fat diets often lead to feeling hangry, fatigued, and with constant cravings. We’ll share some success stories and tips on how weight loss IS possible while eating regular-sized meals and snacks in balance.

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KARA: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. Today's show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. We're a company specializing in life-changing nutrition education and counseling. I think today's show is really going to resonate with a lot of listeners. For the next hour, my cohost and I will be talking about weight loss, specifically, how to go about losing weight without feeling restricted or deprived.

Are you someone who's on a diet right now to lose weight? Or perhaps you've been on a diet in the past to lose weight. Maybe you have a history of dieting, kind of that on a diet, off a diet pattern, then back on again. Let's be honest, nobody wants to feel restricted or deprived while trying to lose weight. It's just not a pleasant way to live. Is it?

LEAH: No, it's definitely not. I hear that from clients all the time of, you know, I've tried something a little bit more extreme, but sometimes I'm just waiting for that last day. Like whether that's 30 days out, 60 days out, three months out. You're kind of just waiting for that last day to hit, and so that you can go back to your “normal” way of eating or, or have less restriction, right?

KARA: Mm-Hmm.

LEAH: So, yeah, Kara, I agree. I'm really excited about today's topic. I mean, weight loss, that is a big reason why most of our clients and students and listeners out there like this is the big reason why they're hearing our message. So we are definitely going to talk about losing weight, but we're talking about it from a different perspective maybe than what other people have heard of or kind of what goes through their mind. We're talking about losing weight while still feeling satisfied and satiated after a meal, not feeling hungry, and still being able to go about your daily life and have energy, have good moods, and feel good while you're losing weight.

Again, a lot of my clients, they'll come to me having those stories of, in the past, having been through those restrictive low-calorie, low-fat type of diets, and they'll describe to me how they felt at that point. And you know, I'll use the term hangry, and most people kind of know that feeling, that hungry and angry at the same time type of feeling. But they're also like, man, I'm, I was so tired. Again, I kind of felt like I had to white knuckle my way through it.

And then the cravings. The cravings never go away and sometimes become stronger when you're doing that more restrictive type of plan. So they crave sugar, crave carbs, and then sometimes you swing on that pendulum of you're being really restrictive with these things, but then you find I can't, I can't do this anymore, and end up binging or overeating on those types of foods. And then you feel out of control going from one extreme to the next.

KARA: Oh, absolutely.

LEAH: Maybe our listeners out there have been on that restrictive diet, and again, felt like you were white knuckling it the whole way through. You're just always waiting for that last day to hit so that you can have less of that restriction.

KARA: So if you're on a diet, if you're a listener and you're on a diet right now, or you've been on a diet, can you relate to anything that Leah just said? Have you felt so hungry while on a diet that you just can't control the craving; those strong cravings, whether it's for chips in the back of the cupboard, Girl Scout cookies that you tried to tuck away in the back of the freezer.

LEAH: Yeah.

KARA: But you remember where they are. If any of this resonates with you, we have good news. It doesn't have to be that way. Weight loss is possible while eating nourishing regular sized meals and snacks in balance. So we're going to talk a lot about what that looks like when we say eating real food in balance while still being able to lose weight.

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely. So let's get in our imaginations here really quick. Imagine starting your day, getting up in the morning and eating a piece of cheesy egg bake and having a delicious bowl of fresh berries for breakfast.

KARA: You had me at cheesy egg bake.

LEAH: Yeah, right. I think most people like cheese. That sounds really great. So that's a great way to kick off your day, and we'll talk about reasons why that is a little later on in the show. Then maybe for lunch, you have a really great cobb salad that uses avocado slices and uses full fat dressing. Then an afternoon snack, cause most of my clients, and I know Kara when you were counseling too, a lot of people need that afternoon snack to just kind of stabilize them into those afternoon hours and the evening hours. So that afternoon snack can be something like some deli meat, you know, roll that up, have some full fat cream cheese in the middle, and have a pickle and that wrap that all up in that deli meat. Easy peasy and nice finger food.

KARA: You know, we just had a work meeting the other day. It was a teacher meeting and someone brought the most delicious cream cheese deli meat pickle rollups, and we all really enjoyed it. It was the perfect balance of protein, healthy full fat, and a little carbohydrate, but it had kind of the salt and the crunch. So let's move on to what a day would look like while trying to lose weight while eating real nourishing food. So maybe an example of a real food dinner could be four ounces of chicken baked in some olive oil. I would probably put some spices and garlic and sauté up some green beans, add some slivered almonds, and have a couple baby red potatoes topped with butter or full fat sour cream, or hey, let's do both.

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely.

KARA: So I'm kind of getting hungry talking about all this good food.

LEAH: I know that, that sounds so good, and I think you helped me meal prep for the next day already, so I appreciate that. Thank you. Maybe for some listeners out there, this might be new information for you. Maybe this is a new way of thinking about things, that it is possible to lose weight while eating some of these delicious meals, and if this is new information, or if you're just kind of raising your eyebrows a little bit right now, you're not alone. Most of us have either grown up or lived a long time with the wrong message of needing to eat fewer calories, less fat, and going about things from a more restrictive part of things for the past 50 years, maybe 50, 60, 70 years for some people, and that's what you need to do in order to lose weight.

I also want to ask the listeners out there, when you hear us talk about the word diet, when we say that word diet, what typically comes to your mind? And again, usually when I'm chatting with clients or talking in class and chatting with people, they're usually telling me that when you hear that word diet, it usually carries some meaning of restriction. And again, usually there's a timestamp date on that, or like it's restriction for a short period of time. So they may say, I'm going on a diet for two months to lose X amount of pounds and I'm going to watch my calories, and I'm just going to make sure I get to the gym every single day; just move my body more.

KARA: Right. And you and I were talking the other day too about that word diet. I mean, truly the definition of diet is just a way of eating.

LEAH: Yep.

KARA: Right? But I think we have come to associate that with low calorie, trying to lose weight, and like you said, a time-restricted, you know, maybe 30 or 60 days or 90 days.

LEAH: Right. Yeah.

KARA: And waiting for it to end so you can get back to normal.

LEAH: Right. Yeah. It typically carries a meaning in our culture, the way we use it, that it's a little more extreme. And again, usually around weight loss and restriction and things like that.

KARA: Right.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm.

Restrictive dieting is not based on science

KARA: And you know, that's, that is the most common thing that we hear, Leah, something you just said. “I'm going to go on a diet for a couple months to lose weight. I'm going to watch my calories and exercise more.” And we hear this all the time, but that is just an old myth. The calories in, calories out: it's outdated. It's not based on science. In fact, I just heard an interesting podcast by Dr. Mark Hyman and he was explaining something that we, we tell, you know, you tell your clients that all calories are not the same. And we've kind of been told that, that if you want to lose weight, eat less and exercise more. But our bodies are so much more complex than that.

So Dr. Hyman compared how our bodies would break down a hundred calories of soda versus a hundred calories of broccoli; same amount of calories. Which do you think, listeners, would lead to weight gain, sugar cravings, more joint pain? I mean, it might kind of sound obvious, but it's the soda. Right?

LEAH: You've probably heard that the rates of folks being overweight and obese in our country are at their highest right now. And unfortunately they continue to go up each year. So clearly restrictive eating and diets have not been the answer or the solution that we've been looking for, and we need to take a different approach at this point. So we actually have to take our first break. And so Kara, I'm going to hand that one over to you.

KARA: All right. Well, you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. How many diets have you been on to lose weight? Five? 10? More than 10? A poll, and this was by a survey done by one poll, was taken of over 2,000 people, and this was just in 2020. And it found that the average person tries 126 fad diets over the course of their lifetime. So that's an average of at least two fad diets per year. Typically, people were stopping those after just six days. Why is this happening?

So these fad diets, it's really just a quest for a magic or a quick fix. They're not sustainable. People usually do not feel good on them, and so they throw in the towel pretty quickly; on average six days. Our bodies were not meant to be restricted, deprived, hungry, hangry with low moods, low energy, and having those uncontrollable cravings that sometimes, you know, lead to binge eating at night.

So our show today is talking about weight loss without restriction. When we come back, Leah and I will share a client testimonial, actually one of our employees, and she's someone who switched from fad diets to real food eating, and she was able to lose and maintain a 90-pound weight loss for 15 years. We'll be right back.


Client testimonial #1: improved health & weight loss

LEAH: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I'm Leah Kleinschrodt, Registered and Licensed Dietitian, and I'm here in studio with Kara Carper, Licensed Nutritionist. If you have been listening to Dishing Up Nutrition for a while, chances are you've probably heard Nell Kaul’s story. Maybe you've been fortunate enough to sit in on one of her classes because she is one of our fabulous nutrition educators.

Or maybe you've heard her voice on a Dishing Up Nutrition podcast. She's been on our show several times before telling her story and, and just being an inspirational human being. Her testimonial is so raw, but inspiring and provides a lot of hope. And her story actually starts with that restrictive dieting approach. And for her, it started somewhere, you'll have to remind me, Kara, but it started somewhere in that age range of like 10 to 12 years old, which isn't really, it's not super uncommon these days.

KARA: I know it sounds so young.

LEAH: It is.

KARA: But really, I think it was like 11 or 12. Yeah. So to recap Nell's story, as a teenager… these are her words, she grew up in a household that had a lot of processed foods, refined oils, processed carbs, you know, foods that came from a box, a can, maybe a freezer package. She gave examples like ravioli and snack cakes. So Nell first went to Weight Watchers, oh, I guess it was, it was eighth grade when she went to Weight Watchers.

LEAH: Yeah.

KARA: She proceeded to do Weight Watchers on and off more than a dozen times. Eventually she did tune the radio on and heard us, heard Dishing Up Nutrition in 2008. She made an appointment. I was fortunate enough to be the first one that she met with, and I'm really grateful I got the opportunity to have worked with her and gotten to know this amazing woman.

LEAH: Yeah. Yes. Absolutely. It's, I mean, both of you, very fortunate to have hooked up with each other. So I'll, I'll try to do a little more summarizing and, and give her story some justice, but as you were saying, Kara, she tried all the low calorie, low fat, like the starvation diets, the fad diets, you know, maybe she'd already tackled that 126 diets by the time you guys had met. And you know, again, she'd do these things, but then go back to that “normal eating” or just the way she was used to.

And then the weight would come back on and even more each time. She was just desperate for something different. So our Nutritional Weight and Wellness message of eating real foods several times per day without restricting the calories and the fat, this was new and for her, so exciting, but still hesitant at the same time; desperate for something different, but still that those old messages pop up in the back of your brain.

So she did agree to try, and that's all we ask our clients to do a lot of times is, can you give this a try for two weeks, four weeks, six weeks, however long they think they can do it for. Try eating real butter, try eating eggs and other animal proteins, do the full fat dairy. And lo and behold, she starts noticing an improvement in her moods and in her sleep. Her skin started to clear up and the cravings and the hangry feelings really started to disappear.

KARA: Mm-Hmm. You have to give Nell a lot of credit because the weight did not come off right away. But I think all of those benefits that you just mentioned that she noticed, that was motivating enough to keep her going. Because she'd noticed all these other improvements. You know, and when the weight isn't coming off at first, that can often deter people from sticking with the plan.

But her body, like many bodies needed to heal from the inside out. So while her body and all of her cells were healing and she was reducing some of that insulin resistance, she noticed all those other improvements and, but I'm sure it was frustrating to not notice, you know, a difference in pant size or maybe number on the scale, but there were so many other physical and mental health benefits.

LEAH: Well, and as you mentioned too at the beginning there, Kara, is that the weight did eventually come off. So, and Nell will tell you, she'll be the first to tell you it, it wasn't overnight. It didn't just fall off immediately. It did take that dedication and commitment, but she was able to do it, to stick with it and to kind of see the long game, kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel because she was not hungry, restricting, dieting and depriving herself. So, and those other, those other small improvements and those wins that we look at throughout that journey, that's what really propels her forward and propels a lot of our clients forward to being able to, to see the long game through, through everything.

KARA: One of my favorite quotes from Nell is she said she felt like she had been let out of jail after 30 years.

LEAH: Yeah.

KARA: So the kind of jail that people feel like they're in when they don't have control around food or they don't have control around those strong cravings and the cravings are kind of running their lives. So I can imagine what a huge relief that must have been. And you can check out more. I encourage you to check out some of the shows that Nell has done in the past and you can just go to weightandwellness.com and look through our podcast list.

LEAH: Yep. Awesome. Well, and Kara, before we get too much further into the show, let's just make sure that our listeners know who's talking behind the microphones this morning.

KARA: I know.

LEAH: Yeah. We got a little carried away in that first segment. And I know we did say our names here, but just for the formal introduction piece, my name is Leah Kleinschrodt, again, Registered and Licensed Dietitian. And I work at, out of our Woodbury office seeing clients, teaching classes, doing counseling and, and all the things.

KARA: Yeah. So, yeah, I know it's kind of embarrassing we, we forgot at the formal introduction, but I'm Kara Carper. I'm a Licensed Nutritionist, Certified Nutrition Specialist. I do want to share that something fun that I've been doing recently is teaching our new Ongoing Support and Education classes. They're fairly new. Dar came up with the classes and we launched them in 2022. Right now I'm teaching a virtual session on Monday nights to a fabulous group of 15 women and it's just a really supportive and encouraging community. So I've been having a lot of fun doing that.

LEAH: Yes. Oh yes, I did, I taught that series for a couple of rounds also in Woodbury, and we ended up with a really wonderful group of gals there that really, we created a lot of community and a lot of comradery around everyone just bonding together and wanting to improve their nutrition and reach their health goals. So super fun group. Shout out to the gals over at at Woodbury, and I know Teresa is teaching that class right now and is doing a fabulous job as well.

And the, that education, the Ongoing Support and Education series, most of our listeners have probably heard us talk up a little bit about that. It is for people who have already taken the Nutrition for Weight Loss Foundations series, which is our big 12 week series, and this Ongoing Support and Education series is now more for kind of like that extra continuing support. And we have weekly discussions, some focused topics, but it's kind of like for Alcoholics Anonymous. It's, this is for nutrition and changing habits, but it's for support groups because just like a lot of things, there are certain foods that might have that same pull that feel like addiction, and that could be alcohol, but it could be even the cookies and the soda and the chips and and other things.

Sign Up for Nutrition 4 Weight Loss-Ongoing Support and Education

KARA: Yes. Yes. Certainly those things for many people can feel like there's an addiction. And so it is a really great concept to have these weekly support groups. And Leah, you and I were looking at the research before today's show. We know people are struggling with their weight. In fact, the National Institute of Health states that three out of four men are overweight or obese. Two out of three women are overweight or obese. And it's not just adults that are struggling. Nearly one in three kids between the ages of two and 18 are now overweight or obese.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm. I know. Those, those are some hard numbers to hear. And I don't think, we probably don't get a lot of kids listening to our show, maybe some teenagers. But the nice thing is, is that the research that we talk about here and the way of eating that we talk about here will apply to not only adults, but it trickles down to kids and teenagers. They'll see benefits as well from eating real food in balance.

Eating real food in balance benefits health & weight of all ages

And the research shows that 80% of obese teenagers, unfortunately go on to become obese adults. So here's another area where we can intervene and just try to establish some of those good habits sooner rather than later. We stand a better chance for having better outcomes down the road. Kids and teens of all ages just do better eating real full fat foods. And just like adults eating real foods, what tends to happen is they see less anxiety, their moods are better, their energy is better, their skin gets better. And depending on the age of the person or who we're talking about, like where weight loss is appropriate, this is where some of that might come into play. And you don't have to count points, calories, or feel restricted.

KARA: Right. Right. You know, speaking of teens, I have a question for our listeners. If you're one of the many adults who have been on the low-calorie, low-fat diets over and over again, just kind of think back. When did you go on your very first diet? Was it kind of like Nell Kauls at age 13, maybe 12? Do you remember counting calories or points?

Well, it looks like it is time for a second break, so I want to talk more about that when we come back. You were listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. I want to circle back to the poll I talked about earlier in the show. It was the one with 2,000 people where the average person tried 126 fad diets in their lifetime to try to lose weight. So half of the folks said they went to Google to try and find the information. 10% said they chose to follow their favorite celebrity, kind of whatever their, whatever diet their favorite celeb was doing at the moment. So that data really hurts my nutritionist heart. There's obviously a lot of misinformation out there, but there is plenty of science-based research backed nutrition information at the ready, and we are here to support you. So we will be back in a moment.


Client testimonial #2: improvement in health & weight loss

LEAH: Welcome back. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. I want to share an NWW client testimonial. These stories, and there's a couple of them on our website, they really are life changing. So this particular client; her name is Ginny, she said she was overweight her entire life, had tried all the fad diets, lost the weight, but then eventually would gain it back plus a little bit more on top. And she said she started noticing health issues, needed a hip replacement due to arthritis, and then also started noticing some achy knees when going up and down the steps.

KARA: Ginny's story's a really powerful one. Her initial goal was to lose weight for her son's wedding. Ultimately though she ended up feeling better about other parts of her life after focusing on how she felt from the foods she ate, instead of focusing on the scale, focusing on the weight loss. And for the first time in her life, she didn't count calories and she started making connections with what she ate and then how she felt.

LEAH: Yeah. Yeah. Ginny did take our Nutrition for Weight Loss Foundation series that gave her a lot of great tools and the information to get her started. And she loved working with Britni, who's one of our excellent counselors here. And ultimately, Ginny ended up losing 40 pounds, which is amazing.

Sign Up for Nutrition 4 Weight Loss Foundations

KARA: It really is. As it often happens when there's been a history of dieting off and on, weight loss going up and down and up, the body really needs time; we had mentioned this with Nell; the body needs time to heal on a cellular level before true weight loss can occur. And just like Nell, Ginny's weight didn't come off overnight, but when it did come off it was sustainable and because she wasn't feeling restricted, hangry and deprived.

LEAH: So, so important, again, just to keep the long game in mind.

KARA: Before break, I had just thrown out the question, you know, if you've been on diets, what was the age where you went on your first diet? 12, 13, 14? And were you counting points or calories or both? Did a trusted adult perhaps suggest that you eat less, move more, and even limit grams of fat? There's been a lot of misguided, even dangerous information given about what type of diets are best for weight loss. No blame or judgment if you've been on a low-calorie diet, or even if you've recommended one for your child or another loved one. It's really just misinformation that we've all been handed down. And I like the quote our owner Dar always says: “Once we know better, we do better.”

LEAH: Yeah. And that first step is knowing that there are alternatives or that there's other options or other ways to approach things. And that's exactly what you and I are trying to do here today, Kara, is just try to reframe and plop some new ideas out there for our listeners; get people thinking a different way about weight loss.

Healthy fats are important for brain health, weight loss & more

As a dietitian, I wouldn't recommend that anyone cut calories or limit grams of fat for  weight loss; not as adults; definitely not as kids. It's especially important for those kids and teenagers though, because they need to get a ton of nutrients and a ton of those good healthy fats to support their developing brains. You know, this was something interesting I learned, especially now that I have two kiddos of my own, is that the human brain doesn't stop growing and developing until you're somewhere in that range of 25 to 26, like way later than we think about for, for most kids growing up.

So our brains are made up of so much fat, about 60% fat. So we want to make sure that we're fueling those brains with the high quality fats so that our kids and us as parents and adults have optimal focus and good moods and that we can learn all the things we need to. So these healthy fats are things like butter and olive oil and avocados, nut butters, like peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter if for whatever reason, you can't do nuts; coconut oil and choosing if you're doing things like yogurt and cottage cheese and sour cream, choosing full fat dairy products.

KARA: And really the full fat is fat is where we get our flavor.

LEAH: Yes.

KARA: And it's also so satiating.

LEAH: Yes.

KARA: And it helps people to feel satisfied and full. So there's so many benefits to it, including, you know, for brain health. But I want to get back to that word, diet. I, you know, actually I don't even like to use the word diet, because it implies that there's going to be restriction and hunger. And it also, there's that implication that it's going to be temporary. So have you ever had a friend tell you, I mean it's springtime in Minnesota. Well you would hope that it's spring, even though…

LEAH: It doesn't quite feel like it some days.

KARA: It doesn’t. But it is springtime. So this is just something that we would hear a lot this time of year is I'm going to start my diet next week so I can get back into my shorts and my swimsuit by the time summer comes around.

LEAH: Mm-hmm. Yep, with that goal of warmer weather on the horizon and shedding some of the layers or wearing a little less clothing, yep, people start kind of thinking about what does, what do I want my body to look like at that point? And that diet mentality conjures up, at least in my brain, and I'm sure this is common of that bland, boring, flavorless food. So you have your, your plain skinless chicken breast, a plate of broccoli with no butter, you know, no seasoning.

Adopt a permanent way of eating, not a temporary "diet"

So it's easy to kind of get into that mindset or kind of have a negative connotation associated with the word dieting or going on a diet. And a short-term diet is just a temporary solution to a long-term problem. And that's where the mismatch comes in. So when I'm working with clients who want to achieve weight loss, I will say something like, that's great, how about we put together a meal plan that tastes good and is satisfying and that this could be some way that you, you could see yourself eating this way for the rest of your life potentially, and that this is not just a band aid or a temporary fix. So it's just sometimes how you reframe it in your mind.

KARA: That sounds so much more appealing and more sustainable instead of looking for that quick fix or the magic solution. The American Psychological Association conducted a survey. The results showed that 42% of American adults reported undesirable weight gain. And I suppose most weight gain for many people is undesirable. But, but that's, since the start of the pandemic. The average weight gain was 29 pounds.

Factors that can lead to weight gain

You know, there's a lot of factors that have led to this weight gain, including changes in what people were eating, drinking, the quantities that they were consuming. Of course, levels of exercise and activity play into that; sleep. And here's the biggie that can't be ignored is stress. We know that when we have more stress, whether that's physical, emotional, mental, our cortisol goes up and our insulin goes up and it's a whole cascading situation that can create more fat storage.

LEAH: Yep. Absolutely. So there are definitely things we have more control over than others. And it's, I think you made a great point, Kara too, is that there are other things even outside of our food that have these biochemical effects in our bodies that can make us more prone to either weight loss or weight gain and fat storage and things like that.

So I've heard that same thing over many, many times over the past three years or so. You know, for the listeners, are you someone who has gained that… maybe it's only been five pounds, but maybe it's been even in the double digits. Have you gained 10, 20, 30 pounds or more in these past couple of years? And if so, you're absolutely not alone. We understand how frustrating that is, and this has maybe been one reason why you've grasped onto some of those low calorie diets in the past because you're looking for that, you're looking for the quick fix or, or just really like that quick way to feel more like yourself and feel more comfortable in your own skin.

But I do, I'm just going to pitch that, that question out there. How did that work for you? Did it work for you? Did it work for a little while? And then did it work in the long term? What I tend to hear is like, yes, maybe it is doable for a little while, a couple of weeks, maybe a few months, maybe even a year or two, but then you kind of get back into some of those old habits, some of those old foods start to come back in. Now you're gaining some of that weight back and maybe even a little bit more on top of it. That's a very common thing I'll hear.

KARA: That's very common. I'd love to do a little bit of a deeper dive into that kind of the biochemistry of what's happening and why the weight usually comes back and comes back even more. So, you and I know what is happening internally that, you know, would lead to the quick weight loss and the result in gaining it back. But I'd like to explain that to our listeners. A lot of the initial weight loss that people notice comes from fluid or water. But another thing that can happen is when eating low fat and low calorie, there's a loss of muscle. And so that's really important and we'll talk more about that muscle loss on the other side of break.

You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. I'm Kara Carper, Licensed Nutritionist. I'm here today with Leah Kleinschrodt, Licensed and Registered Dietitian. Weight loss without restriction is our topic. We will be right back and we're going to share another testimonial.


Client testimonial #3: health improvement & weight loss success

LEAH: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I have a client story I just wanted to share with the listeners here real quick before we jump into what you were saying before, Kara, about what that initial weight loss looks like when you're kind of doing a more of a crash diet style of eating. This client, I am so, so proud of her. I, she and I have been working together since the, pretty much the very beginning of the pandemic. So early in 2020, she took our Nutrition for Weight loss Foundation series, had some really great success in taking that class, learning about balanced eating: protein, carb, fat, eating to balance her blood sugar. She lost a good amount of weight in that series. I can't remember the exact numbers. It was something like, I think 14, 16 pounds, something along those lines, which is, is great. And exactly what we would want for people.

KARA: Yeah, it's a great pace.

LEAH: Yeah, it’s a great pace. Exactly. And so I know, I remember her sharing that after the class, she had finally gotten under the weight that she was when she got married, which was, you know, 10ish years prior. So that was a big milestone for her. She was really proud of herself and she and I continued to work together over the next three years. You know, I still have her as a client, do we do our check-ins and we've worked together, tweaked things here and there, had some really great conversations and just continued to keep moving her forward. Of course, there's always ups and downs and little plateaus along the way, but she emailed me in February, having gone to the doctor's office and she said, I weighed in at the doctor's office at 199 pounds. She was under 200 pounds. And she said, I have not been that weight since in high school.

KARA: Wow.

LEAH: She was over the moon about that. I was over the moon for her; so proud of her. And she was somebody who kind of like our, the topic we've been talking about. She is someone who came from that history of the low-calorie starvation types of diets and did a lot of yo-yo dieting, yo-yo weight loss before. And so we did have to talk about that too because, you know, she was bought in on eating the real food way, but she was like, I just don't understand why eating that way didn't really work for me, and for her blood sugar balance is everything. And so when she ate low fat and higher carb, it just didn't work with her biochemistry.

So when we made that connection for her, she was like, ugh, that is such a light bulb moment of like why some of these strategies just didn't work for me while it was maybe working again temporarily for other people. She was like, it just never worked for me and I never felt good eating that way. So I just wanted to share that story. It's, I, she's one of my favorite stories to share with other clients. Just give them hope and say like, yes, we can do this. Real food works. And again, there's, there are ups and downs and some plateaus along the way usually, but we're able to make progress in a lot of other areas as well.

KARA: Yeah. Wow. That I'm sure a lot of people can really relate to that story. And like you said, I think it gives hope.

LEAH: Yes.

KARA: And it's that insulin resistance that happens after the low-calorie, low-fat yo-yo dieting that really makes it more challenging for people to eventually actually lose the body fat. But when the body heals, it will happen, just like it has with the folks we've been talking about today.

LEAH: Yep. Exactly.

Biochemistry of why restriction doesn’t work long-term

KARA: When we were talking about, you know, that initial weight loss that people will usually experience if they are eating low fat, low calorie, maybe counting points and restricting, you know, they may notice that the scale has dropped, but typically a lot of that is going to be fluid and muscle loss. So with low fat, low-cal diets, there is going to be more muscle loss. Actually studies done on low calorie dieters have shown that up to 35% of the weight that comes off comes from lean muscle mass.

LEAH: That's a lot.

KARA: It really is. And you know, the lower the calorie and the lower the fat, the more muscle mass will be lost. That's just because our bodies are not meant to crash diet. Losing fat tissue, it does take longer than losing muscle. And so usually that is the first thing to go.

LEAH: Sacrificing that muscle.

KARA: Exactly. And like when you shared about your client, the pace that she lost her weight during our 12-week Nutrition for Weight loss series, I think you said between maybe 12 or 14 pounds.

LEAH: Yeah. Somewhere in that range.

KARA: So that's about a pound per week. And that's why as nutritionists and dietitians, we educate people to keep that pace. If it's any more than two pounds per week, we know that there is muscle being lost.

Having sufficient muscle mass increases metabolism efficiency

LEAH: Yep. Absolutely. Yeah. And that muscle, especially as we age, muscle is everything. Muscle is very metabolically active. It's much more metabolically active than fat. And so what that means is our approach, we want to try to keep that muscle on our frame as much as possible because when you have more muscle, it just means that your metabolism is going to be running on a level nine or a 10 versus say a level five or six without that muscle mass. It's kind of like your metabolism is much more efficient. It's more active at that point. So, and that's where you might hear that term resting metabolic rate. It just means that you're, when you have more muscle, that metabolic rate is higher.

KARA: And here's another way to think about it. If you go on a short-term diet, and often that's the kind when people feel weak and hungry because they're not nourishing their bodies with the correct nutrients, the body will typically use muscle tissue for the energy. So picture you're kind of weak and fatigued.

LEAH: Yeah.

KARA: So your body starts breaking down muscle to be used as energy before it's going to start breaking down body fat. You know, our bodies are very wise and using body fat for energy, it's more of a complex, complicated process. So our smart bodies opt for the energy store that's more accessible and it happens to be muscle.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm. Yes. And then when we think about the aging process, especially as we get into our forties, fifties, and especially sixties, seventies, naturally we start to lose muscle mass. And so that can be a double whammy for a lot of people. Especially if you're undereating protein or rapid weight loss, yo-yo dieting. And then we've got the aging process kind of compounding that factor. The nice thing is thankfully that eating real food and having the, some of those full fat items in that eating plan, not only is it just a healthy way to eat and live, but it provides us what we need to lose the least amount of muscle mass while losing the body fat. So I'll say to my clients like, we're trying to keep that muscle, that lean mass that's underneath everything and just lose the fluff that's on top.

KARA: That's a great way to, to phrase it, Leah. And I found an interesting study. It was in the journal called Advances in Nutrition. The study was titled “Preserving Healthy Muscle During Weight Loss”, just what we're talking about.

LEAH: Mm-hmm.

Protein plays important role in maintaining muscle mass

KARA: And it found that eating enough protein plays a really important role in maintaining muscle mass while losing body fat. Now, it doesn't have to be a high protein plan, but really a balance, a balance of protein, the healthy fats and oils we've been talking about, and focusing mostly on vegetable carbohydrates with, you know, some fruits scattered in and maybe some starchier carbohydrates in like a half cup serving. But having under 35% of total calories coming from protein increased the risk of regaining weight in the study. So the sweet spot for how much protein was in that 30 to 35% range of total calories in a day.

LEAH: Yeah. Yep. And if we want to break that down even a little bit further, like, hey, what does that mean? What does 30 to 35% of total calorie range look like? You know, and how much the listeners might be like, well, you know, how much protein is the right amount if for me, if I want to lose the fat? So what we usually recommend is a starting place for most people, and we can dial this up and down depending on what's going on with the client.

But for most people, this looks like four ounces of cooked protein with meals. So say like, think breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two ounces with snacks. And so if you're thinking, you know, you're probably doing at least one snack a day, maybe two, maybe three for some people. So you're probably in that ballpark range of at least 12, but even upwards of 14, 16 ounces of protein in a day.

Sample ideas to incorporate protein

KARA: Yeah. Yeah. Hey, can I give an example of a breakfast idea that would contain that amount of protein?

LEAH: Yeah. I think we definitely need to see that translation. Like what does this look like in the kitchen or in our pan when we're cooking this stuff?

KARA: Sure. And so one reason that I wanted to explain the breakfast that I ate the other day is because we often hear about folks eating one egg for breakfast.

LEAH: Oh yes.

KARA: Or at the most, maybe two eggs.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm.

KARA: A lot of people don't realize that one egg contains one ounce of protein.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm.

KARA: So if we're striving for that three to four ounces to make sure we have an efficient metabolism, we really need to kind of up that protein. So what I did is I whipped up three scrambled eggs, added some cheese, so that got the protein up to close to four ounces, or if you want to do the conversion, it would be about 28 grams of protein. And then I added a half cup of cooked, drained and rinsed black beans. So there was a moderate amount of carbohydrate.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm.

KARA: I sauteed some red pepper, cooked it all up in an omelet pan and then I topped it off with some salsa and two very large tablespoons of guacamole.

LEAH: Yum.

KARA: So it was a delicious kind of a Mexican flavored breakfast; really kept me full of energy, focus and very satisfied until lunch about four hours later.

LEAH: Yeah. And I, I love that example. And having really starting your day with that amount of protein makes such a huge difference for how the rest of your day goes. That's what I've noticed with clients.

KARA: Yeah. It really sets people up for success in so many areas.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm.

KARA: Well, we have run out of time and just want to thank everyone for listening today and our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, it's to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple but a powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Have a wonderful day.

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