The Weighting, Episode Two: Eating to Lose Weight
The plan is to eat more food to lose weight. Yes it's true, sometimes eating more food is part of the method to make your weigh-ins more successful. David and his coach, Ryan L'Ecuyer talk about the not-so-magical process of making numbers go up to make them fall down.
Week One, April 2nd to April 9th involves me "feeding up." One the last night I went out with a few friends and had a burger, heard some music and had my third alcoholic drink of 2018. I wanted to "party" as the next day started the countdown to lose my final twenty pounds.
Here is where I was weight-wise the next morning. As expected I gained a few pounds as my metabolism relaxed. So I did not start at 221, but 225!
Here I am. I'm about to weigh myself and start this final voyage. So let's see what the damage is like after a week of feeding up. The number is 225.5. Wow! So instead of being 20 pounds away, I'm 25 pounds away.
I always tell my clients evolution is definitely not finished. If it were we would all do change very well. But we don't and that's one of the major reasons I have a job. I help my clients move from one status to another, manager to director, single to married, unknown to semi-known and even on one occasion, really famous.
Who am I? My name is David Ezell and I am a cognitive behavioral coach and therapist. I use the tools of cognitive behavioral therapy to help folks with and without a diagnosis get out of their own way and start getting what they really want.
I made a discovery a few years ago about myself. I was a big fat hypocrite. I was helping other people get what they wanted and not doing much towards getting what I wanted, being physically fit. Yeah I had the up-and-coming career but I was an overweight disaster! Tipping the scales at 300 pounds, I set a big goal; to lose 101 pounds and keep them off forever! Flash forward a few years later and here I am, 81 pounds down. I feel and look better than I ever have and now I'm ready to take on the last 20. It takes a long time to create any significant change in your life. I always quote the late Tom Petty, 'the waiting is the hardest part" and that's why I call this show The Weighting.
Before I started losing weight, I took a week and ate more than normal. Eating more food to cut weight is hard to explain. So I called my trusted coach Ryan to explain how it works.
Ryan: I'm Ryan L’Ecuyer. I'm a personal trainer and nutrition coach. That entails all things lifestyle related, health related. Any way that I can help with preventive measures or reaching performance goals or body composition goals. But you know my personal interests are bodybuilding, powerlifting, kind of a full-time meathead. Pretty much everything I do, everything I read has to do with training and one way or another. So it's kind of been a passion of mine since I was 10 years old really. So it kind of made sense for me to go into that field as a profession and it's been a lot of fun. I get a chance to learn a lot about myself and my own physiology and psychology as well as my clients.
David: And this is something that I never ask, that I never think about. Probably because I'm scared of the answer. How old are you?
David: What I want to talk about today is what I'm doing right now. Where because I tell people that I'm tricking my metabolism by feeding up and you know I've adjusted my numbers. So on days that I'm not working out I'm eating 2,100 calories. As opposed to 1,900 and on days that I am working out, if I work out once 23 instead of 21 and if I work out twice, 24 instead of 22. I just tell people I'm tricking my metabolism. I'm eating more food to lose weight and they roll their eyes. If you could try to frame it up, what exactly is taking place when I'm doing this?
Ryan: So I think the best explanation that we have for why this works would be related to a hormone called leptin. Leptin can be thought of as like a fuel gauge hormone and basically what that means is kind of just like your tank in your car. It tells you how much gas you have. It’s kind of telling you what you have available in in terms of the energy, available energy. Even further back from there we should probably just like talk about what homeostasis is and why that's important as a human organism and that way we're always trying to maintain this this balance. Your brain and your body are very interested in staying the same at all times. Leptin is kind of this thing that talks to the cells in the body. It communicates to the brain and tells you kind of where you are on that homeostatic range and it's not really interested in fat loss. Like there's no reason in evolution that we would be wanting to get very skinny. Like that would be a really bad idea and that's where like that idea of tricking the metabolism comes through and I think there really is some truth to that. Because we really do have to like work, the things that we want in modern society or the complete opposite of what we would have wanted from an evolutionary standpoint. So leptin is kind of the biggest player in this as far as I see and that you know the higher your body fat percentage is at least to a degree, the higher your leptin will be. So leptin basically just tells you that you're full. So if you have enough body fat on you, it makes sense that your brain would not really tell you that you need to eat more. Now I say that to a degree. Because they've also found with people that are very obese that maybe not necessarily that leptin continues to rise with an increase in body fat. But you losing that's activity to the leptin that you have. So much like a type-2 diabetic who continues to eat more and more food, their cells are completely full. They start to not even produce as much insulin anymore. Because the cells are not up taking energy anymore.
David: The same kind of thing happens in depression.
David: When people are depressed, some people will stop eating. But another portion of the population and God I wish I would have been the part that didn’t eat. But because I was unhappy and I was clinically depressed to the point in my life, I just kept eating and never felt full—the food was medicine.
Ryan: And that's why we have to talk about how psychology relates to all of this. That’s so important. Because you can't, I can't expect to help any of my clients unless they have a handle on all of their life outside of the gym, that's huge.
David: It’s balance. It’s got to be good on the inside to be good on the outside.
Ryan: So now going back to like the original question, like why are these re-feeds helpful. So like we know that leptin is going to respond primarily to body fat. Like if you have higher body fat, you probably have higher leptin. Unless you get to that point where you're losing leptin sensitivity. But that's not really relevant in this conversation. The other thing that leptin will respond to is primarily carbohydrate intake. So just understanding fundamentally what leptin is, it's your fullness hormone. It tells you that you're full and it tells you to stop eating and it responds mostly to carbohydrate. so if we're taking, if you have a large bowl of some carbohydrates in one meal or one day, like you're describing in these re-feeds where your caloric intake is a little bit higher. You’re getting a little bit of that signal saying like hey I'm actually okay. Like that things are good and with that like if you're getting that enough times. You are doing that a couple times a week or at least every week, once a week. It’s kind of enough to tell your body that your homeostatically regulated in terms of energy intake. So it's not going to fight back—“oh crap there's a famine! You know I need to hold, I need to store body fat—because that is what would happen like from again an evolutionary standpoint. If we ran out of food we would need to eat our own bodies essentially. So we would try to hold on to something that's energy dense. Which would be body fat, in the case that we ran out of food again. So if you have these spikes where caloric intake is a little bit higher in the sense you're telling your brain, your body that everything's okay. Like I'm not dying here. There is food coming you know. It’s okay, I can continue to lose a little bit of body fat and said so. Yeah I think like the simplest way is, yeah I am kind of tricking my metabolism.
David: It's okay. Everything’s fine. Just relax metabolism.
Ryan: I think when we're looking at diets, like there's every type of diet works. Like there's like you can do a ketogenic diet. It’ll work for somebody. You can do a high-carb diet. That’ll work for somebody. You can do like you know fish sticks and twinkles. Like that will work for somebody. But the main thing is that we're talking about long-term weight loss here, right. So the most important factor in long-term weight loss is adherence. Like how long can you actually do that diet and I think this might even be more important than any of the metabolic stuff that's going on. It’s just like, it makes it a lot easier to maintain that diet when you know that you're going to go up in calories in a few days. I mean you can speak to that, I’d imagine right?
David: Yes that's right. Yeah because I've got a payoff coming up and that makes me feel, you know when I... because what happens is when people are long-term obese or even just long-term overweight, just have horrible nutritional habits. It gets towards later in the evening. Their gas tank is low, their anxiety is high and they go—I’ve got to eat. oh my gosh I can't eat anymore—and a panic state sets in and there is the problem and so if I have a different thought in my head and the thought is you know what I'm not going to starve to death tonight. Go to bed and then Thursday I can have a slice pizza. It’s going to be fine.
Ryan: Yeah it's that delaying instant gratification. You know that can be...
David: The Marshmallow Test.
Ryan: Yeah it’s really, it’s tough. I think that like you know when you're getting reinforcements through the way that you feel the way you look, the things that you actually want. Like that becomes easier and I like I think also just like doing it over time. Like it becomes, it starts to become less of a big deal. You know like this is again like... I mean I'd watch you make this complete lifestyle change and the complete psychological change I guess in the way that you approach food. which has been really amazing to watch and it's like, the thing that I'm always looking for my clients like I could get them to that point where they just had this complete switch and for you it's like the way that we talk about it. Now it's not even a big deal anymore. You know it's just kind of what you do you know and it all just becomes this habit of doing this thing. You know over time it just becomes, it doesn't even take willpower anymore. It’s just what I do. I wake up, I brush my teeth. It’s just what I do. I don't have to, my mom doesn't need to yell at me anymore about brushing my teeth. Because I just do it. (inaudible) eating that type of thing.
David: Yeah like I was obese and there this like kind of slovenly mentality that comes with that. I mean I was still kind of sleeping like a teenager at the beginning of 2014 and we haven't identified what time we're talking. But it's like 7:49 right now. How long have you been up this morning?
Ryan: About three and a half hours ago, 4:15 this morning.
David: (laughing) Yeah I mean I got up at 4:45 and if you had told me that I will be getting up at 4:45 and doing this whole regimen of things, I've already done my books and I've already done by scheduling for the day and I've turn out notes to clients and you know I’ve eaten two meals.
Ryan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah yeah.
David: That’s crazy, that's crazy! But I do it and I don't think anything about it anymore and people ask me. You know like, what's your secret, what do you do? What do [inaudible] back there well you know I get up at 4:45 and then I weigh at 5:00 a.m. and then they just give me this look [13:32 inaudible] right you know. so I did not, I would have given you the same look if you had told me in April of 2014, you're going to be doing this.
Ryan: Yeah you know I think it's important. It was like it was a step by step thing. Would you agree with that? Like it wasn't like all the sudden you just started doing all this change. It was like something that you took manageable jumps and I mean that's what you do best. I mean you know how to help people manage that kind of stuff and I think that's super important.
David: Break it up. Yeah I don't, you know I told you a long time ago I'm going to lose 101 pounds. But I never think about losing a 101 pounds. I just think about losing a pound. I just want to see the movement. That’s all I want and I know you got to go and I got to go too. But I just want to talk to about one more thing and whenever you are not talking about this, one more thing always opens up. I want to talk about the fact that, one of the most interesting twists of fate; we basically weigh the same right now. Which is really a bizarre situation that I entered into this weighing you know basically like a teenager more than you did. Now we've basically weigh the same and this is something else that blows, I'm going to use the word amateur in air quotes “amateurs” minds is that you and I can weigh the same, but proportionately look so different. So can we talk about how that's true for a minute? Because we look different, but we weigh the same.
Ryan: Yeah I mean there's a lot of factors. I mean like the first thing you'd have to address is just, it's just genetic factors. There’s some things that like different joint structure and different limb lengths and all that. Like can't change that. So but it's worth mentioning right. Aside from that, I think that easiest way to explain it would just be with you know muscle mass. You know like how much muscle do you have is going to completely change the way that you look. So things will look different when you start losing body fat and you'll kind of get an idea for a person like you know how much muscle mass they have once they start really losing body fat and that's when you start to see the changes and I mean actually at all the time competing in bodybuilding. Like where I'll get beat by guys that are you know 40 pounds lighter than me and they look way bigger than me. You know part of that is that genetic factor. You know and then part of it is like you know maybe they're just maybe they are a lot leaner or whatever you know.
David: Can I use it for proportionality? It’s the issue of proportionality and this is what another thing that beginners don't understand is my body fat is much higher than yours comparatively. So I'm probably like 14.5 and we'll probably have a whole separate conversation about how hard it is to measure body fat. But that's why weight is the, “how much you weigh? how much do you weigh?”
I mean that’s the metric that we use. It is called the Weight Watchers right. It’s not called “Body Composition Watchers.” So it's weight, weight. But it's really multiple measures right. Its weight, its body fat, it's body composition. Which is really about proportionality, about measurements. How big is your waist, how big are your hips? All that stuff. Is there any other metric that you think ought to be observed in that set when we think about the way the body looks?
Ryan: Yeah I mean it, just pictures. Right? I mean that I play those can be super helpful. you know you snap a picture yourself in the same place with you know no shirt on you know every three months and you'll start to see these changes that you otherwise wouldn't notice. Where it’s like wow you know maybe my weight hasn't moved at all. But I look like a completely different person like you know what happened there. That’s what you're describing I guess that body fat change, that shifting of composition. So that can be super important and like the way that you're clothes fit. Simple things like that. You know they can tell you a lot. Like I'll tell you as a bodybuilder like I don't really care what I weigh. I mean I'll use that as a metric in the beginning to help me kind of get an idea if I am moving the right direction. But at the end of the day I mean no one's going to be picking me up when I get on stage. Like I need to look a certain way and I think that's what most people are after anyway with their change of body composition. You know really they want to look different. So you know we might as well use that measure to see if you're making progress.
David: So how much do you weigh right now?
Ryan: I'm actually 220 this morning. My weight went up a little bit, which is a little strange. But 220 this morning on the dot. Where you at?
David: Well I'm at 222. Interestingly enough I forgot to weigh this morning. I don't, I never forget. I think subconsciously I don't want to see it go up.
Ryan: Yeah interesting.
David: It's been you know all, it's awesome when it's positive reinforcement. It’s alarming to me. It sets off a series of like automatic thoughts that I'm not happy about.
Ryan: And that's a smart strategy then to not do it. Yeah so that's another conversation too.
David: Yeah right right you know and that's the whole body of [inaudible] should we weigh every day, should we weigh once a week etc etc. but [inaudible] about how I wound up with those daily weigh-ins. but we're right at the same body weight. What’s your body fat right now?
Ryan: It's like, I think it's like 10.5 right now last time I checked it. But you know I don't know how accurate that machine is that I'm using. But I'd say it's around 10 or 11.
David: Right we're always whenever we serve our body fat, I kind of put my hand a little up in the air. You know so I'm about 14.5 and you are about 10.5-11, which is really where I would like to wind up, is in that zone. I come a long way. I mean I got the records.
Ryan: Yeah it's been a pretty amazing to watch.
David: Very first weigh and what I like to share all that stuff. But I know you know time flies when you're having fun. I appreciate you talking to me this morning last minute and the next time I see you, we're going to do; that'll be the last day of me feeding up and so I'm having a pizza party. Because Tuesday you know the gun fires and I'm losing this. I'm going down to 101. Yeah I'm excited. I'm a little depressed, a little worried and I'm excited. So that's a good sign. I got to let go.
Ryan: It’s not going to be a big deal what you are doing.
David: Yeah it's going to happen.
So it's begun. Work, sweat and reduced calories until the Fourth of July. It’s scary to make my last 20 pounds so public. God I hope it works out.
Please keep in mind, the information in this or any episode of the weighting should in no way be construed as medical advice. Always consult a physician before attempting to lose weight or beginning any sort of exercise program.
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The Weighting is brought to you by me, David Ezell and my producer Patrick Fort. Our theme music is by Waylon Thornton, courtesy of the Free Music Archive.
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