Holiday Eating Strategy # 2: Change Your Macros, Change Your Thinking

Finding yourself too busy to workout?

Skipping meals earlier on in the day because there’s no time, only to find yourself gorging on the homemade Christmas cookies your colleague brought into the office?

All the more reason to change the macronutrient ratio of your eating regime.

In case yesterday’s post left you asking some questions about just how healthy it is for you to be eating more fat and less sugar (call it low carb if you will; just don’t get the idea of going totally carb-free. We need our veggies, and lots of ‘em!), I thought another post in the same vein would be in order.

Perhaps you like the idea of eating more fat, especially now at this festive time of year, when trying to get by on typical ‘diet’ foods like boiled chicken breast and celery sticks if far from appealing, but you’re a little leery of just how healthy it can be.

And you’ve also likely heard already about how protein has a thermic effect[1], the amount of energy expenditure above the resting metabolic rate due to the cost of processing food for use and storage.

But what if you’re dealing with a history of heart disease? How can eating more red meat be anything but contraindicated?

Well, red meat is contraindicated… if you’re eating grain-fed, that is. Grass fed is a horse of a different color (or, cow, rather)!

Grass-fed beef has some heart-health benefits that other types of beef don’t have. When compared with other types of beef, grass-fed beef has more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, more conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that’s thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risks and more antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E[2].

Or high cholesterol; how on earth can eating eggs, and whole eggs at that, be a good idea?

Don’t we need to eat multiple servings of grain-products to fight cholesterol?

Actually, the opposite is true.

Low-carbohydrate weight loss diets have an edge over low-fat diets for improving HDL cholesterol levels long term, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Dieters who followed low-carb or low-fat plans for two years along with a lifestyle modification program lost the same amount of weight on average about 7% of their body weight or 15 pounds, but throughout the two-year study, low-carbohydrate dieters had significantly increased HDL, or “good,” cholesterol levels compared to low-fat dieters[3].

In all honesty, so many claims that the typical low-fat, calorie counting diet makes about the health benefits we stand to gain can be proven false in clinical settings, but perhaps more importantly in a practical sense, they’re not sustainable.

If they were, would the rate of failure at diets in the US be as high as it is?

We’ve all heard the statistic that 95% of diets fail, but even more conservative estimates that 20% of people achieve successful weight-loss and maintenance[4] leave a lot to be desired.

Yet for some reason, despite the nation getting fatter and sicker, we keep on going back to that same bad dietary advice.

We keep going for low fat, we keep thinking number of calories supersedes source and macronutrient balance and when someone suggests eating more fat, and fats of all kind even the dreaded saturated fat (gasp!), we poo-poo their advice, categorize their approach as being, risky, unproven and not suitable for most.

You wouldn’t believe number of clients I’ve had, who, when first reading the nutrition plan I write for them tell me that they’re used to eating a lot less fat? And then immediately continue to tell me how tough it’s been to lose weight and keep it off?

It’s just crazy.

Not the clients; the whole situation.


Does it really make sense to eat low calorie, diet versions of crap?

Does it ring true that our diet needs to consist primarily of man made items and that we should avoid natural protein and fat sources we procure from wild fish, game and grass fed meat?

Agriculture involving domestication of plants was developed around 11,500 years ago separately in both the Fertile crescent and at Chogha Golan in modern day Iran, where wild barley, wheat and lentils were cultivated and with domesticated forms of wheat appeared about 9,800 years ago[5].

The earliest credible fossil evidence of the genus Homo was dated to about 2.3 million or 2.4 million years ago. Now researchers have found a human fossil in Ethiopia about 2.8 million years old [6].

Hold on one second; this is not an argument for why we should be going gluten-free (or not), or how ancient, sprouted grains compare to the poor example of what 96% of our grain-based foods in the US are.

Rather, it’s a simple math example to show that grains cannot possible be the uber important necessity that we must consume in order to thrive if humans endured for 2.8 M years without them.

I may have gone off on a tangent there, so pardon me for that, but you see the point.

We don’t need grains. We don’t need sugar.

And we don’t need to try to configure some tricky-to-navigate path in order to concoct a way to eat sugary holiday treats without gaining weight, without creating serious blood sugar spikes, inconsistent energy levels and an overall feeling of malaise.
Recondition yourself to eat and enjoy the protein-y, good fat, seasonal veg (and therefore, delicious, health promoting and energy boosting) foods and focus on what all you stand to gain from that.

Doing so will help to stabilize your blood sugar, your energy and prevent those blood sugar crashes from happening in the first place.

If you don’t want those cookies in the office in the first place, think about how easy it will be not to eat them.

Trust me on this one!



[1] Christensen, Peter. “What is the thermic effect of food?”. Retrieved March 28, 2005

[2] “Heart Disease.” Grass-fed Beef: What Are the Heart-health Benefits? The Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015

[3] Boyles, Salynn. “Low-Carb Diets Improve Cholesterol Long Term.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.

[4] “Top Four Reasons Why Diets Fail.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015

[5] “Farming Was So Nice, It Was Invented at Least Twice”. Science. 4 July 2013.

[6] Q, By Charles. “Earliest Human Species Possibly Found in Ethiopia.” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 04 Mar. 2015. Web. 08 Dec. 201