Podcast Episode #033: Does Calories In, Calories Out Really Work?
Wouldn't life be so much easier if your body worked like a mathematical equation? Eat X + Exercise Y = Results Z
If maintaining a healthy weight was black and white like this, there likely wouldn't be an ever-growing obesity problem, nor would there be an ever-growing weight-loss industry. People would just figure out the right "numbers" and make it happen.
Guess what? Your body isn't a mathematical equation (duh!)...
Make Your Body Work Podcast: Episode #033
- Learn More About Michael at Transformative Nutrition
- Make Resolutions That Stick! [MYBW Podcast #020]
- How to Set Healthy Fitness Goals That Actually Make Sense
- The Best Type of Exercise for Burning Fat [MYBW Podcast #003]
- How to Stay Motivated to Exercise [MYBW Podcast #008]
- How to Make Vegetables Taste Amazing! [MYBW Podcast #031]
- Lose 10 Pounds in 4 Weeks - Take the "10 in 4" Challenge!
Does Calories In, Calories Out Really Work? [Full Text]
Dave: Hey, thanks so much for joining in on this episode of the Make Your Body Work podcast. As you know, this show is all about answering your questions about healthier living, weight loss, and simply enjoying a better quality of life. Today, I have an awesome question from Ruth. Let's dive right in.
Ruth says, "Dave, I love your podcast. I've been meaning to ask this for a long time. I guess I'm old school when it comes to managing my weight. I like to keep things simple and look at calories in, calories out. If I'm gaining weight, then I try and eat a little less and move a little more. I've heard some people say that this isn't the best approach, but it makes sense to me. What do you think?"
Ruth, thanks for the question and as most questions on here, there are ones that you're not the only one asking this, so I appreciate you bringing it up because I know that there's a lot of people that think, "Hey, can I use a formula? Measure my calories of my meals and then go and exercise and burn calories on the treadmill or whatever it is. If I get the right number when I subtract one from the other, I'm going to start to lose weight."
I have a really great guest, a very interesting guest today who his own weight loss story shows that he knows what he's talking about. I'm not going to spoil the surprise because I'd like to let him tell you about how he gained all this weight and lost all this weight. How he looks at what we eat in terms of the most effective way to find foods that are going to help us lose weight. I'd like to introduce to you, Michael Tamez.
Meet Michael Tamez
Dave: Hey Michael, thanks so much for joining us today.
Michael: Hey Dave, thank you so much for having me on the show. It's a pleasure.
Dave: You've got a very interesting personal story. I was wondering if you can maybe just start off by telling the audience a little bit about your own fitness journey.
Michael's Weight-Loss Story
Michael: Yeah, definitely. Long story short, I put on about 70 or 80 pounds in a short period of time, in about a year. It was due to a dysfunctional relationship. I didn't even realize I was ... I started eating fast food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I became more really obese. I developed sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and all kinds of other health problems.
I got to the point where I got winded tying my shoes and walking up the stairs. Having severe sleep apnea really made ... I was scared because I was only about 19 at the time. I was really scared for my life. I needed to make a decision to start doing things differently in my life because I was scared of what was going to happen in my future.
I made a New Year's resolution in 2001, this is January 2001. I stuck with it for 10 months and throughout those 10 months, I lost about 70 pounds and I reversed my sleep apnea. When I went back to the doctor for my sleep study, my sleep apnea was gone and my high blood pressure was normalized, it was back to normal.
In the course of about a year, I reversed all that stuff going on and I felt like a new person. I look like a new person. I look back at the photos now and it's like I was 20, 21 and I look older than I am now at 35. I seriously look like I was 40 in the pictures when I was 19 and I don't even know who that is. Other people are like, "Really? That's
Dave: That's got to be the most gratifying thing to hear someone say, huh?
Michael: It is and that's exactly why I'm here on the show and I do what I do with health coaching and writing. I want to get my message out there just to let people know that those kind of goals are attainable very, very easily with just a little effort and determination. That's what I want to bring this.
Resolve to lose weight today. Start small, make an effort every day. Anyone can do it!
Dave: Couple questions about your story there. First of all, what was specifically your New Year's resolution that you said you kept for 10 months? Was there something very specific or was it just to lose weight?
New Resolution: Where To Start?
Michael: Like I said, I was scared. I was 19 and I was falling asleep driving. I even got in an accident because I had sleep apnea so bad. It got to the point where it's like okay, that's pretty much an "ah ha" moment. I knew I had to do something. I knew that I had to lose a lot of weight. I knew I had to reformulate my whole eating plan.
I didn't really know where to start. I had no concept of nutrition dieting, any of this stuff. It was all like whatever. I didn't care. I just was living life like whatever. You know when you're in your teens, late teens, early 20's, you don't really care too much.
I started with small steps. I just figured, "Okay. Well, I'm going to start working out," and that was the biggest thing right there. I just got physically active. I got my butt outside. I started riding a bike. One of the biggest things that had me shed weight, lose inches, and drop pounds was boxing.
My dad gave me some boxing gloves. He got me a punching bag. I had a timer. I would go. I would do interval training or pretend I was boxing. I would do three minutes on
Dave: It's surprising. When I used to train clients one on one or do group fitness classes, I used to use boxing intervals. We'd usually only do 60 seconds because it's exhausting. For you to do three minutes, congratulations.
Michael: That was just a level of determination because it was like, "Okay, I'm done with this. I'm done with having to sleep with a machine on my face. The CPAP machine for sleep apnea. I'm done with feeling miserable, with falling asleep. I'm done with it all. I just want a new life," and I just decided to commit to it.
That's the kind of all in, all or nothing kind of approach I took. That doesn't really work for everyone. I always suggest to people to start with small realistic goals to begin with. Saying, "I want to lose a hundred pounds," which is what I lost ultimately, about a hundred pounds, having that goal as a starting point that's unrealistic, daunting and overwhelming.
Maybe having a smaller goal of let's say, "I want to lose five pounds in this next month," or, "I want to stop drinking soda this month," or, "I want to stop eating fried chicken or fried foods this month." That's a more realistic goal and then creating off of those goals is what I recommend to people.
Dave: I love that you mention that because that idea of setting sort of ambiguous goals and say, "I want to lose a hundred pounds." Sure, it's not really ambiguous, I guess that's defined, but the steps to get there are ambiguous. I like what you said, "Okay, I'm going to set something for this month, but then also tie some actions to it. I want to lose five pounds this month and I'm going to do this that's going to get me there."
Kind Of Exercise Suits You Best?
Michael: Right, exactly. First of all, figuring out what kind of exercise you actually like because in coaching people, with my clients, and I'm sure you deal with it a lot of the time, people don't really like every different kind of exercise. Some people might like the treadmill, some people might hate it.
Some people might be more inclined to go outside and do kayaking, or go skiing, or do rafting, or some kind of adventure sport. Some people might be totally fine with putting in their headphones, watching a movie, and going on the treadmill for 45 minutes. It all depends
It is easier to do the exercises that you like. Pick ones that resonate with how you like to move.
Dave: You are preaching to the choir. I love that you just brought that up. For the listeners out there, if you go back to podcast episode 3, so it's MakeYourBodyWork.com/3. Michael, I talk about exactly that. That the best form of exercise is the one that you like because you can make a program for someone or I can make a program for someone that is amazing from a calorie burning perspective, but if they hate it, the chance of complying with that is virtually zero.
Michael: Yup, you got it. It makes so much sense.
Dave: I know we have a question from Ruth, but you've intrigued me. I want to ask you a couple more questions if you don't mind about your personal story.
Michael: Oh no, yeah, definitely.
Dave: One thing that when you were talking about developing sleep apnea and I know that that's a problematic in itself when you feel low energy and just tired all the time. How did you overcome that because that's a hurdle to start exercising when you already feel fatigued?
I know that listeners out there will be able to relate to that. Maybe
Michael: Yeah, definitely. I totally relate to those kind of issues coming up when it comes to starting an exercise program because I dealt with that myself. Having sleep apnea, which a quick rundown. It's basically your esophagus. There's restricted airflow when you're sleeping which causes extreme snoring and it causes you to stop breathing during the night several times per hour.
That's when you wake up gasping for air and that's why you fall asleep during the day because you're not getting restful sleep. Having really low amounts of energy starting off was really difficult for me, but I did choose to get the CPAP machine that doctors prescribe for sleep apnea. It really incredibly helped me to initially get that energy and awareness and awakeness to be able to start working out.
When it comes to other issues that may be hindering a workout program, it's basically figuring out what you can do to help alleviate those issues, you know what I mean? Kind of figuring out what steps you need to take to making it easier for you. Working out is challenging enough.
We don't need to complicate it with other things going on and other whatever it may be, whether it's stress or physical ailment or something. Those are the kind of things we need to take into consideration and figure out, "Okay, what do I need to do to kind of improvise or modify this to make it work for me."
Dave: Like you said before, it's with those baby steps. For someone who maybe hasn't exercised before and goes into the gym and feels exhausted in 10 minutes. Well hey, just making it into the gym, that's a win for that day.
Michael: Absolutely. That says a lot about your commitment and that's brave. I acknowledge you for that because just that choice alone. How many people you think are sitting on the couch with the remote in their hand and a bag of chips by their side just thinking and wishing that they were in your spot that just went to the gym for that five minutes? That step is a lot closer than that person on the couch will ever...
Dave: Just hearing you say
Michael: I thought exercise was a joke. I seriously ate fast food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I never worked out. I had an active childhood growing up, but then I like I said I was in a dysfunctional relationship.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Exercise: What Works For You?
I just kind of gave up on life for a few years and I was just like, "Exercise, really? Are you kidding? Need a break." After five years, first going to the gym, it's like, "Okay, well this is great. I feel good," but you know the whole indoor gym thing really didn't resonate with me. I'm kind of an outdoorsy kind of guy.
Like I said, I took my workout outside. I did more nontraditional type
Someone else could be totally different. It could be the whole gym workout would work. It could be a workout DVD like you do. You have your programs. That might work for some people. I acknowledge that. That's amazing. When you find what works for you, stick with it because that's what's going to help you get to reaching all those goals.
Dave: Something really powerful that you said there is the idea of putting in the time to search it out. I think a lot of people when they're challenged with this task of losing weight, they think, "Okay, I need to eat way less food and I need to start going to the gym."
Probably if we found a percentage of the population that's actually going to enjoy going to the gym, it'll probably be very small, but there is something. There is something that everyone would like to do.
Michael: Definitely. There's always something there that you enjoy. It's just honing in on that and using that as your fuel to reaching your goals. Just keep that goal in mind. What do you want in the long run and then finding something you like. Integrating it
Dave: Couldn't agree more. We just talked a whole lot about exercise and this show is actually all about nutrition. I got to change gears hear and just to recap. Ruth wrote in and had this really great question.
She basically said, "I have this old school way of thinking where it's all about calories in, calories out. Is that how I should approach weight loss." Michael, when you read that, read her question, what came to mind? What are your initial thoughts?
Eat Less, Workout More to Lose Weight?
Michael: Initially, logically, yes.
I like to look at counting calories as kind of a tool, but not to be looked at as something to totally base everything off of because there's so many different elements involved in weight loss and in reaching goals such as goals similar to weight loss. It's a good starting point understanding
I encourage people to look deeper than the calories. Instead of counting calories, start counting the chemicals in the food because the chemicals are actually more dangerous than high-calorie foods. I'd like to get into more detail with that. I'm sure you can identify with that yourself.
Dave: Yeah, maybe you can explain because one of the things I personally do work with my clients is getting them to start reading nutritional labels, looking at calories and sugars. Just sort of learning a little bit about
Why Chemicals In Your Food Matter
Michael: I would say it's more important because the food manufacturers can legally disguise chemicals as being an all-natural product. For example, I'll give you an example. Some of the well-known potato chip and corn chip manufacturers in the United States lists their product on the front label to be trans-fat free. When you turn the package around and you read the ingredients, one of the first ingredients on that ingredient list is partially hydrogenated oil.
Partially hydrogenated oil is basically the same thing as trans-fat. It's an artificially created hydrogenated oil from the process of bubbling hydrogen into an unsaturated vegetable oil. The molecular structure of it is close to pretty much like plastic. It's almost impossible for our body to burn off because it has a melting point of about 112 degrees.
You can research this yourself, but this is from my own research. It melts at about 112 degrees. Our body cannot get that hot to melt that kind of substance. What happens is it stores in our arteries, in our cells, and then we hold on to weight. These are the kind of chemicals that are in our food.
I actually contacted this potato chip manufacturer and said, "Well wait a minute, you advertise your product as trans-fat free, but low and behold, I turn it around and partially hydrogenated oil is right at the top." Their response, interesting, was, "Oh okay, so we are allowed legally to list to include partially hydrogenated and or fully hydrogenated oil in our product as long as it's 49 grams or less per serving."
The "all natural" food you buy from food manufacturers is not so natural after all. Don't believe it.
That to me sounds like pure deception because they're telling me that you can have a half of gram of trans fat per serving in food and call it trans-fat free. That just like, wow. It's
Package Goods Companies Lie
Dave: That's a fantastic example and to the listeners out there, I really want to second what Michael just talked about there and say don't believe what you read on packages. I'm actually kind of embarrassed to say this, but came out of a marketing background and I used to work for a couple international package goods companies.
To second again what you just said, there is one particular product that I worked on that we wanted to label it as being real fruit. The minimum requirement was that for us to use that nomenclature on the package, it had to be 4 percent real fruit and then the rest was made up of gelatin, sugars, and other substances.
From a consumer perspective, they would see that, and I know because I did the research when I worked for this company, and they would say, "Oh, I feel good because I'm eating this product that's real fruit." It's complete deception.
Michael: Yeah, it is. I see it in not only with trans-fat, but even other
Dave: Maybe you can help with the listeners to sort of simplify the process because if we're just looking at calories in, calories out, and make it a very formal equation, it does make things easier. "Okay, I need to eat 1,500 calories a day. I add up my calories and I did it or I didn't do it," but when you start to look at sort of the approach of the underlying sort of
How to Chose the Right Food at the Grocery Store
Michael: I think that the most important thing to look for is make sure that it's truly all natural because you don't want chemicals in your body. You could have a most amazing
That can actually hinder your progress or actually have you reach a plateau at some point. Just making sure what you're eating is totally natural. The way to do that is to read every single ingredient on the list and make sure that it's an actual ingredient because a lot of food companies can get away with saying natural flavors or spices. Those are phrases not actual ingredients. Also by...
Dave: Let me just jump in there. When you're looking at a product or looking at the ingredients, then you're looking for ingredients like tomatoes or onions. That's basically what you're saying. You're looking for whole foods.
Michael: Exactly. I've seen so many and also so called natural products that
Dave: I love that point because if it was a natural flavor, you'd think that there'd be no reason to not disclose it on the label.
Michael: It's kind of like, "Are you blowing the whistle on yourself here," because it's like, "Natural flavors, really? Okay. That's believable."
Dave: When you start to look at labels this way, so I know that some listeners and myself included, I think, "Okay, if I went into the grocery store and only bought products where the ingredients were a hundred percent whole foods, that's going to eliminate a lot of products then maybe I would typically buy." Is that just how you eat then? You eliminate those...
Michael: Definitely. Listeners out there, this is what I recommend. Shop the perimeter of every grocery store because that's where you'll find the fresh foods.
You Can Create Your Own Meals!
You'll find your greens. You'll find your meats. You'll find all the good ingredient, like the actual ingredients. The food that you can actually use to make your own food, to create your own meal. All that stuff that's around the perimeter, usually the meats and the
That's where I recommend starting at because then you know what it is and you know that
Dave: I think that's an excellent suggestion. I want to push a little bit further and say, "Okay, so if I'm going to shop in the perimeter, right away that tells me I'm going to have to start cooking a whole lot more because none of those foods are pre-prepared, in a box, and I throw them in the microwave. If I don't know how to cook, that sounds like a lot of work. What do I do?
Michael: It does and that's why I actually have a chapter in my book or I mean, a portion of a chapter in my book about keeping it simple. Let's face it, we're busy, we work, we have busy lives. We might have kids in it. It's a lot of stuff going on and we don't have the time to come home and make this elaborate meal. Totally understandable!
That's why I say five ingredients or less, not including your fresh ingredients. All your fresh ingredients may be garlic, onion, green pepper, tomato. Those are your fresh ingredients. Those would be your five or less, but your staple ingredients such as salt, pepper, maybe some cumin or garlic powder. Those would be your staple spices and they wouldn't be considered as
Keeping the recipe or a meal five ingredients or less, which are your fresh ingredients that are available
I just throw
Dave: Yeah, a hundred percent. I had a guest just a couple episodes ago, so episode 31. Again, if you go to MakeYourBodyWork.com/31, Amie Valpone. She's a chef, a very high end chef. She was talking about how to make vegetables taste good.
Her recommendation was so practical, she said, "Throw your salt and pepper shaker. Go invest in some quality sea salt and some
Michael: Yeah, I mean there's so many ... I actually also would like to encourage listeners to be creative. Just use your creative, imaginative ... Just create things. Just be an artist with your food because I've created meals that I didn't even know like, "Holy crap, I just created this amazing meal out of like five or six ingredients and it tastes great.
It was 15, 20 minutes to prepare." Just experimenting, that's one of the things that goes along with personal training, what you do. In that it just takes a little bit of commitment and accountability.
The commitment is to eating healthy and maybe it's losing weight, or reformulating your diet, or getting rid of a food craving, or a food addiction. You also have the wanting to start cooking and preparing your own foods.
The commitment is there and it's just the accountability that's missing. To have that accountability, it's just making sure that you check in with yourself or have someone else do that for you, whether it's a trainer, or a spouse, or a friend, or a loved one. Having that there can really help you out too.
Cooking AND Saving Time!
Dave: What you kind of alluded to a number of times actually is this idea of having sort of a repertoire of maybe easy meals we can prepare, which is sort of general ingredients that you have lying around in your kitchen most of the time. Would you say that's true for
You don't have to start from scratch every day. Find 5 meals you love. Cook, eat, repeat.
Michael: Both actually because I have my staples that I love. For example, in the morning, I love mixing it up with ... like one morning I may have oatmeal with fresh fruit or I'll have hard boiled eggs with toast and avocado. The next day I'll have a piece of Ezekiel bread with almond butter. Those are the kind of things that I mix it up with.
For dinner, I'll have my staples. I'll have black beans are one of my staples. I love black beans. I make them by the pound. No seriously. You know how cheap, seriously, you can get a pound of black beans for like a $1.50. You can make a whole pound of them and then you can smash them, make tacos out of them. You can put them in
You eat them whole with rice. When you have beans and rice, that's a complete meal because you have the proteins, you have all the proteins fiber, and carbs that you need to sustain yourself. It's just like these simple things that we can do to sustain our diet, it's just amazing when you look at it that way.
Dave: To the beans, to any listeners out there, if you're not into rehydrating and cooking beans, put them in a slow cooker. This is my strategy. I put an entire bag in the slow cooker. I don't turn the slow cooker on. Just put water in. You fill up the slow cooker with water and let them hydrate, so maybe eight hours or you put them in there overnight.
Put your slow cooker on for four hours and when that's done, you have an entire slow cooker, crock pot, whatever you want to call it, full of these beans. I portion them out and then freeze some of them. It's so easy. You talk about time saving. That is zero work. The basis of your meal is made for you.
Michael: You know what's even more awesome Dave is that when you do
Dave: Yeah. I know I'm an environmentalist. Even from an environmental perspective, shipping beans in a can when they have water in them, not good for the environment.
Michael: Definitely not, and then all the aluminum and the BPA in the lining of the cans. It's just a whole other ... a whole other thing in of itself.
Make Your Body Work Takeaway
Dave: Agreed. I feel like we could talk so much. You and I share a lot of similar view points in terms of eating and exercise, but we're running out of time here. I do want to leave the listeners with Make Your Body Work takeaway.
If we can go back to Ruth's question, and just for Ruth if you're listening and anyone else who is big on counting calories and thinks that that's the way to weight loss, what would you say Michael is something maybe that they could take and maybe modify that approach, but something that they could do today that would really help them out?
Michael: What I would say that would be the most powerful is like I was saying earlier is instead of focusing on ... maybe shift the focus on counting calories to more of a counting chemicals in the foods and know exactly what it is that you're fueling your body with.
When you know exactly what you're fueling your body with, you'll create a functional relationship with food because a lot of the times we have this dysfunctional relationship with food. A lot of the times we have this dysfunctional understanding of how the food energizes, how it nourishes our body, and our whole digestive processes and everything.
When you have that understanding, then working off of that, you can create your own eating plan. By listening to your body and knowing what it's telling you, you can figure out, "Okay well, this food I ate works with me. It doesn't, I feel lethargic after eating it, I feel good. Maybe I need to eat more of that."
Kind of getting a good understanding for that and then working off of that and building off of it. Starting at one spot and building from it, I think that's a very powerful way to go with it.
Dave: That's really, really wise what you just said there. I like the fact that you emphasized the uniqueness of each person. You'll see it online or on TV, people selling these one sized fits all diets or even exercise programs.
To the listeners out there, if you see something that said, "Everyone can use this diet and it's going to work for everyone," run away because what Michael just said is so true. You're different than I am, different than everyone else. Develop your own plan. I love that you said that.
Everybody is unique. Develop your own plan. Your body, your diet!
Michael: I forget who it is, but there's a quote that said, "One man's medicine can be another man's poison." Being seven billion strong in a planet, that statement nails it right there. It really does.
Dave: Michael, you've got me inspired. I want to go to the store right now and evaluate labels.
Michael: Shop the perimeter.
Dave: That's right, that's right. I know the listeners are going to be interested in learning more about what you do and about your book. Where can they find out more about you?
Michael: Yeah, definitely. The easiest place to go is on my website. That's Transformative-Nutrition.com. On there, you can find my book. I have it available in
I post it because it resonates with me and my fans. That's what I want to know as my commitment to the content in my newsletter. There's just a ton of information on my website, like articles, resources, and giveaways and stuff too. I highly recommend checking it out. That's Transformative-Nutrition.com.
Dave: I'm actually on your website right now. Listeners, if for no other reason, go check it out so you can see a before and after picture because Michael before and after, wow, you're looking much better.
Michael: Can you even recognize me in that before picture because I don't.
Dave: You're not kidding about when you say you look way younger right now.
Michael: 105 pounds.
Dave: Amazing. Michael, thanks again for joining us today. I really appreciate it. Thanks for all the wisdom.
Michael: Thank you for all the amazing work you do Dave too and it was a pleasure being on the show. Appreciate it.
Dave: Thanks again Michael for joining us today. Just providing so much wisdom and so
I really like that because if we look at it just like a mathematical equation, what goes in, what goes out equals weight gain or weight loss, we're probably going to be left wanting for some better results. I think you did a really great job, Michael, presenting some reasons why that's true. Why we're more complex than just an equation.
As always, I want to thank you the listeners. Without you, there would be no podcast. There would be no show each week. Thank you for all your amazing questions and I'm doing my best to get to all of them. Thank you for your feedback.
Honestly, the highlight of my day is opening up my inbox and getting stories from you every single week saying this is what you learned, this is what you're doing, these are the results you're seeing. It's so inspirational and so motivating. It just makes me excited to create more podcasts for you, so please email me anytime, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For anyone who is looking to lose weight and maybe isn't sure how to get started, I'd be happy to work with you. I run a program called the 10 in 4 challenge that really focuses on helping you clean up your diet, just like we talked about today, and then incorporating some easy, enjoyable, routine exercise.
Building up that healthy routine and helping you lose weight over a four week period. If you're interested in that, if you would like to work with me, feel free to check it out. It's at 10in4.com. That's the number 10, one, zero, I-N, four dot com, 10in4.com. Again, if you have questions, let me know. Thanks again for joining me and I'll see you again here next week.