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Do You Get Your Nutrition Advice from Your Doctor?

We're nearing the end of the January …

Statistically that means 95% of the population has given up on their New Year's Resolutions.  We're trusting that's not you.

If you were planning to lose fat in 2010, have you heard people suggesting you should "eat more to lose weight?"

Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn't it? Aren't calories important? 

As promising as it may seem, it’s impossible to truly defy the laws of physics and take in more calories than your body uses to lose fat.

But lo and behold, the husband of a woman we work with told us he recently lost 12 pounds pretty quickly. He went to his doctor and when asked what he did to lose weight, said “I ate fast food twice this week.”

The doctor applauded him, suggesting that may have “jumpstarted” his metabolism enough to kick that weight loss into high gear.

Seriously?  Fast food "jumpstarts your metabolism?"  I must have missed that nutrition class in school!

The man was ecstatic – suggesting to his wife that she too eat fast food that evening to bump up her already impressive weight loss.

The result? She was sick the entire evening after taking his advice and “enjoying” a crispy chicken sandwich; foods she hadn’t touched in months. So why didn’t this strategy work for her like it did him?

Can’t you boost your metabolism by eating more?

This is where that physician got his nutrition information a little mixed up – a common problem with many physicians, unfortunately. I digress.

Here’s the truth.

When you eat, your metabolism increases. This accounts for about 10-15% of your overall calorie expenditure. It’s not a huge chunk, but every bit surely helps.

Protein causes the biggest increase. Carbohydrates are next. And fat has a nominal effect.

This is one reason many suggest higher protein diets for fat loss. Again, every little bit helps.

With that said, however, the total amount of calories a person eats will always be greater than the resultant increase in metabolism, regardless of the food selection.

For example, sitting down to a protein rich grilled chicken and mixed veggie meal may provide around 400 calories. That doesn’t mean you’ll burn 500 calories, though, because it’s high in protein.

But it is one reason we suggest smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. And, yes, we do suggest protein with each meal.

Every little boost in calorie burn helps, so dividing 2000 calories over 3 meals vs. 2000 calories over 4-6 meals may give a little extra "boost."

But going back to the original question, eating, or refeeding high calorie, junk food, like what the physician suggested, is far from a smart eating strategy for long term, permanent fat loss.

These 10 strategies are what you truly need for permanent fat loss :

  1. Eat smaller, more frequent meals (not larger, more frequent meals).
  2. Include lean protein with each meal and snack.
  3. Use veggies and fruit as your primary source of carbohydrates.
  4. Replace liquid calories with non caloric options like water.
  5. Add high intensity exercise to your routine, like we do with our Mohr Results Boot Camp.
  6. Eat breakfast, but nothing with a cartoon on the box. Click here to see the healthiest breakfast in the world.
  7. Add 3+ cups of unsweetened tea each day.
  8. Move more – we suggest 5+ hours of general movement each week, outside of structured physical activity.
  9. Plan ahead.
  10. Reduce packaged food items – the less ingredients, the better.

By the way, you CAN eat more volume, yet still eat less calories. So it's not really "eat more, weight less" — it's eat more VOLUME, weigh less.  

More on food volume later.  Until then, be smart about your intake and never fall for the quick fix “FAUX – lutions” not SO – lotions.

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9 Responses to Do You Get Your Nutrition Advice from Your Doctor?

  1. Susan January 25, 2010 at 6:58 am #

    Chris and Kara, I like this post, but I do have a slightly different opinion in regards to the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) and would like your opinion.
    I've always ball-parked TEF at ~ 10% of overall energy balance.  Since you used 10 – 15%, for the purpose of my example I'm going to stick with 10% for ease of explanation.
    Individual 1 consumes 2000 calories/day across four 500 calorie meals. 10% x 500 calories (per meal) = 50 calories. 50 calories x 4 meals = 200 calories/day burned as a result of TEF.
    Individual 2 consumes 2000 calories/day across 6 meals. 10% x 333.33 calories (per meal) = 33.33 calories. 33.33 calories x 6 meals = 199.98 calories/day burned as a result of TEF.
    Same difference.
    The real impact of TEF occurs when you're referring to an individual on a higher calorie (mass gain) diet. I'll now compare the individual consuming 2000 calories/day to the individual consuming 4000 calories/day to make this point.
    Individual 1: We already know this individual burned 200 calories as a result of TEF.
    Individual 3 consumes 4000 calories/day across 4 meals. 10% of 1000 calories (per meal) = 100 calories. 100 calories x 4 meals = 400 calories burned as a result of TEF.
    Ultimately, how many meals you consume each day should be based on personal preference. Based on my 1500 calorie/day diet, I prefer 3 meals + 1 snack. To break 1500 calories down in to more frequent, smaller meals would mean I'd be limited to snacking the entire day rather than sitting down to an actual meal (1500 calories across 6 meals is 250 calories/meal).
    For someone on a 4000 calorie/day diet, 6 meals plus a couple of snacks may be necessary to hit both caloric and macro-nutrient goals.

    • Chris and Kara Mohr January 26, 2010 at 8:22 am #

      Great question, Susan! There are actually a lot of factors that play a role in this equation and for the sake of ease, I talked simply about TEF as a whole. My PhD research was on smaller, more frequent meals and the effects on weight loss…what we found was those who did eat more frequently didn’t LOSE more weight, but gained less weight back as time went on. In the literature reviews I did, I found that with lean individuals, the more frequent feedings seemed to decrease appetite so they ate less at each sitting. However, with those who were obese (measured using BMI), the calories in between feedings didn’t seem to decrease the amount eaten at the next meals…appreciate your thoughtful response!

  2. Susan January 26, 2010 at 8:24 am #

    Thanks Ray.  Yes, the theory is that eating every few hours feeds muscle and starves fat.  However, the math doesn't add up and my reason for posting this question is that I assume  that a good portion of Chris and Kara's audience are women on lower-calorie diets and I'm interested if they have these individuals follow a 2 – 3 hour eating regime. 

    • Chris and Kara Mohr January 26, 2010 at 8:27 am #

      We all also have to keep in mind what is realistic — for some, eating every few hours works. For others, it may be more difficult depending on their daily schedule…we have some who do this very successfully and others where 3 or 4 meals/day works, so we educate them on the best choices there too.

  3. Susan January 26, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    That makes sense Chris and Kara.  Thank you.  I was trying to gauge the importance you felt in terms of TEF/frequent meal consumption.  I agree that it needs to be on a case-by-case basis.
    Thanks again.  I really thought this was a great blog posting and have re-tweeted it!!!

  4. Dina November 9, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Isn’t a 4 egg omelet a bit much for breakfast?

    • Chris and Kara Mohr November 9, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

      That was for 2 people.

  5. matthew March 15, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    My question hits really close to home and I need some serious intervention. My (late) wife and I were obese. She passed three years ago from breast cancer. She ate fast food daily. Me being the supportive husband, I couldn’t let her eat alone. What’s more important is that she passed at 37 years old. I am on borrowed time with Fatty liver, sleep apnea, and hypertension all being held at bay, but present nonetheless. I just turned 40 and I am my 11 year old son’s only parent. I have lost and gained over 400lbs from 2 weight loss surgeries. I have quite a bit of visceral fat. Bmi is 54. How do I sincerely lose the taste for the garbage items?? Ie… Golden Arches, Jack, King, KFC… I belong to a YMCA and my son and swim a lot. I have never been so big it feels hopeless trying to exercise, but I am getting there. I ask how do I lose the taste because its easy, quick and filling. The weight is effecting my physical sexual relationship with my girlfriend, and its beginning to effect my prostate (no cancer tho). I’ve tried finding a nutritionist but my insurance doesnt pay for it. I am done feeling done and living on borrowed time, only to possibly leave my son an orphan. I am 6’3″ 422lbs. 56″ waistline. Can you help?

    • Chris and Kara Mohr March 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

      Hi Matt — our friends at would be perfect for your situation. Check out the site and their offerings with the Lean Eating program

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