Stop Thinking About Balancing Calories, Start Thinking About Unclogging Your Sink
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Hey, everybody, Jonathan Bailor back with another Smarter Science of Slim show. Got a great one for you this week. We are going to continue on our path to live a smarter science of slim, rather than continuing to be duped by obsolete calorie myths that have been disproven for 40+ years. It’s just that we haven’t been told about the modern science of eating and exercise. Rather, we’ve been told that we are fundamentally broken in some way and that we just need to try harder, which is, of course, garbage. I personally do not believe that 70% of the American population just spontaneously became lazy gluttons, and anyone who does think that, well, let’s just say, they’re not making many friends.
Anyway, let’s dispel these calorie myths. Let’s live a smarter science of slim and let’s get started by talking about the fundamental disconnect. The fundamental problem behind these calorie myths is a focus on quantity, the quantity of calories consumed, and the quantity of calories expended. It’s not that calories don’t exist. It’s not like calories are like leprechauns and unicorns. Wait, you mean leprechauns and unicorns don’t exist? No. Leprechauns and unicorns do not exist. Calories do exist, but that doesn’t mean we need to consciously regulate them. Vitamin C also exists, but we don’t need to consciously regulate that. Nor do we need to consciously regulate vitamin D, or vitamin E, or thiamine, or riboflavin, or phosphorus, or magnesium, or zinc, or anything else! So why would we need to manually regulate calories? It doesn’t make sense.
What does make sense is that the body is designed to automatically regulate mission-critical functions in our bodies. We drink more water; we go to the bathroom more. We sleep less one night; we sleep more the next night. You try to hold your eyes open for a long time; you blink more as a result. You try to hold your breath; you then inhale a bunch more when you stop. The body works to balance itself out. It’s called homeostasis, we all learned about it in high school biology, but somehow, the powers that be seem to think that doesn’t hold for energy.
But, oh well, we can do better than that, and just three quick quotes to get us started, understanding this actual self-regulating system. The first is by Ernest G. Roth. I love this quote: “About almost any subject, there are the facts everybody knows, and then there are the real ones.” Well said. We’re going to talk about the real ones today. Vladimir Lenin, somehow we’re not big fans of, but this is a smart quote by him: “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” That is what has happened with these calorie myths. These lies have been told so frequently that they have become the truth. But don’t worry; we’re going to do better than that. Finally, J.R.A. Mitchell, who tells us: “What passes for knowledge is often no more than well-organized ignorance.” I love that.
Let’s focus on actual human biology for a second. The thing we’ve all been taught is that we need to balance calories in with calories out, consciously, that our body works like a balance scale. More calories in means more fat stored. More calories out means less fat stored. Simple, metabolic math. Right? Wrong. I know it makes sense, but a lot of things might make sense on the surface, but when you actually understand the science, they don’t.
One great example is the idea that the earth is flat. Look out your window. It does seem like the earth is flat. In fact, based on your entire life’s experience, it would make sense to believe that the earth is flat because after all, if the earth wasn’t flat, wouldn’t people fall off? I mean, it just makes sense, right? But it’s wrong. Because when we understand science we understand that there is something called gravity that holds us on the earth. And when we understand the science that actually underlies human metabolism versus just these theories of 40 years ago, we understand that gravity changes everything. The fact that your hypothalamus in your brain has specific clinically proven circuitry that regulates energy balance, and that you have hormones that regulate calories in and calories out automatically, and that you have bacteria in your gut that is designed, that exists, to regulate your weight around a set point, it’s like gravity for the body. It changes everything.
That which seems intuitive, AKA just eat less and exercise more and you’ll burn fat, seems right, but it has been proven wrong. Instead of thinking about our bodies like a balance scale, it’s better to think of our bodies like a sink, because we have to have a metaphor. That’s why this calorie myth nonsense has stuck around for so long because it’s like, “Oh, your body works like a balance scale.” It makes sense intuitively. The only way we can overcome that psychologically is to have science that is as easy to understand, and has as powerful a metaphor, but it is correct, because after all, we’ve seen what incorrect information can do to us. Just look around. Not good stuff, we need to reverse it. Instead of thinking of your body like a balance, I would encourage you to think of your body like a sink, as sexy as that sounds. A balance isn’t that sexy anyway, so sink is not so bad.
Think about your body like a sink. I don’t care how much water you put into that sink, it’s just going to drain more. More water into the sink means more water out of the sink. The water level may rise temporarily, but over time, the water just drains out and you are fine, you’ve got your sink, it’s all good. Think about that sink again like a body, because just like a sink can overflow with water, a body can overflow with fat. Okay, cool. But, now, sinks – what causes them to really overflow? It’s not a lot of water. That’s not the problem at all. In fact, we’ve all probably seen sinks overflow and just a little drop, drop, drop of water is going into it over a period of time.
What actually makes a sink overflow? Clogs. A clogged drain. When a sink becomes clogged, any quantity of water will cause it to overflow. It’s not the quantity of water that’s causing the sink to overflow, it’s the inability of the sink to respond to more water in with more water out because it has become clogged. The real question is, what is the cause of the clog? No one just consistently pours buckets of water into their sink. Of course, if you take a fire hose and you just aim it at your sink and you go to town, it’s going to overflow. Good news is, nobody actually does that. We don’t intentionally gorge ourselves consistently. At least 99% of the population doesn’t. We are not struggling with overweight in this country because 70% of us are gluttons. Seriously, that is just ridiculous.
What actually causes the sink to overflow is a clog that removes its ability to react to more in with more out. Think about the body the same way. When you put what is designed to be consumed by a body into a body, more in equals more out. More water into a body just means you go to the bathroom more. And in a normal functioning body more food in just causes your body to run faster and hotter and you burn more calories. What causes systems, be they sink or metabolic systems, to become clogged and to lose their natural ability to balance themselves out, is when we put the wrong quality of things in them. Your shower drain will never become clogged from too much water. It becomes clogged when non-water is put into it. If you start pumping hair and paper towels in your sink or your shower, or any kind of drainage system, that is when it becomes clogged.
It is not a quantity problem, because again, no quantity of water will ever cause the clog. It is a quality problem. Sinks are designed to handle a lot of water. They are designed to take water in. They are not designed to take non-water in. When non-water goes into them they lose their natural abilities, and they become clogged. Now the sink starts to have standing water in it. It is almost like the sink is regulating around a higher point. There is standing water. I don’t care how much you turn that faucet down, if any quantity of water is flowing into that sink and the sink has lost its ability to react to more in with more out, eventually the sink is going to overflow. You can turn the faucet down as much as you want, and forget about how ridiculous it is to live your whole life not using your sink any more. “I’m just going to not wash my hands.” No, no, no, that’s not the problem. The problem is not that you’re using too much water, the problem is that your sink has become clogged with the wrong quality of things you’ve put into it. The solution is not to stop using the sink. The solution is to unclog the sink, and to avoid clogging it in the future by avoiding putting non-water in it.
The same thing applies to the body. The body is like a sink. Your body is designed to eat food, but 60% of the average American’s calories are not coming from food. Let’s define food as things you can find directly in nature. I have yet to find a Go-Gurt tree, or a Cheerios tree, or a bread bush. These things don’t exist. There are no fields of honey buns. As delightful as that may sound, they do not exist. Food, things that the body is designed to handle, much like a sink is designed to handle water, are things found directly in nature.
When we put non-food in our body, just like when we put non-water into a sink, our body becomes clogged, hormonally clogged, neurologically clogged, gastroenterologically clogged. And then any quantity of food consumed – this is why people will be eating 1200-1400 calories per day and not losing fat, because like that sink, even a drip, drip, drip can cause it to overflow. When it becomes clogged, when you become hormonally clogged, even that drip, drip, drip of food can cause you to overflow with fat. The problem is not too much in, or too little out, it’s that a clog has removed the system’s ability to balance itself out automatically.
How do we solve it? It’s not less in, and it’s not manually pulling more out. You could sit there with a teaspoon at your sink and just flip water out all day, but that’s not going to solve the problem, the clog still exists. How do we remove the clog? We remove the clog through quality, for our sink. Maybe we change the quality of what we’re putting in it, maybe put some Drano in it. Maybe we give it a few good shots with the plunger. Of course, that’s not what we do to our body, we don’t want to give ourselves a few good shots with a plunger and drink Drano, but the analogy continues, where instead of drinking Drano, we can eat hormonally healthy foods, like nonstarchy, nutrient-dense vegetables, vegetables you could eat raw, things you often find in salads.
We could eat nutrient-sense proteins, seafood and grassfed meats. We can eat whole-food fats, nuts and seeds, and lot-fructose fruits like berries and citrus. These are like metabolic Drano. They help to clear that clog instead of, again, hitting ourselves with a plunger, we don’t want to do that. But we can do less, but higher quality, exercise. By using more intensity, but doing this very safely, we can essentially force that metabolic clog out. When you combine that with the right quality of food in, you end up with a healed system and a metabolism that works as it is supposed to, which is balancing you out automatically around a healthy set point rather than chronically overflowing.
It’s not too much food. We are designed to deal with a lot of food. In fact, anthropologists estimate that for 94% of human history, we were eating up to 5 pounds of food per day. You do not become obese from eating too much food. If you want a challenge, if you have some time on your hands, find me a person, any person, who has become chronically obese and diabetic, who does not eat starches, sweets or processed fats, someone who eats things only found in nature and is chronically obese. This is literally something you will not find. It’s like trying to find a four-sided triangle, because it just isn’t possible. The body will not allow you to chronically overeat the right quality of food. And saying that we cure chronic weight gain by eating less and exercising more is again like saying we deal with a clogged sink by just using the faucet less and scooping more water out with a teaspoon.
The problem is the clog, that the system, itself has broken down, and the solution is healing the system. And the cause of the clog is improper quality, nothing to do with quantity. And the solution to the clog is through improving quality, not by diddling with quantity. And if you need any other reason to help make this transition from thinking about your body like a balance scale, to thinking about your body like a sink, maybe think about this. Your brain is going to tell you that you are hungry, until you eat a certain amount. Fact. You cannot trick your brain into letting you starve. Our entire existence depends on our ability to not starve. Our body doesn’t want us to starve to death. So, if we don’t eat enough, we are going to be hungry. And nobody can live a happy, healthy, maximally effective and contributing life if they are hungry. Psychology 101, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, food is a fundamental human need. Telling someone to just be hungry and not eat food is like telling someone to just be thirsty for their entire life. It’s ridiculous.
When you think about that, not only is quantity irrelevant when we actually understand our body scientifically like a sink versus, anecdotally, like a balance scale, which doesn’t work, and led to the major problems we have today, then we see that in addition to being what science has actually shown, just from a common sense perspective, the only practical way, the only enjoyable way, the only quality of life maximizing way to achieve weight loss, or more appropriately, fat loss, and robust health, energy, sex drive, mental performance, just to rock your purpose on the earth, the only way to do that, long term, is by changing the quality of what we eat.
It cannot be done by changing the quantity of what we eat, because if you are like 90% of Americans, you eat when you are hungry, and you stop when you are full. That is a common characteristic amongst both thin and not-thin people, AKA that the vast majority of people on this planet who have access to sufficient food eat when they are hungry and they stop when they are full. So, anybody that tells you to diddle with the quantity of calories you are consuming is saying that you need to be hungry and unsatisfied for the rest of your life. That will not work, it cannot work, and it is ridiculous. When you understand that from a scientific perspective, quantity has nothing to do with it, and from a common sense perspective, quantity can’t be the answer because it’s not sustainable, then you see that quality is the key.
Quality allows you to unclog that sink, and keep it unclogged. And it also allows you to eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are full, and to keep that up, just eating when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. To live a life of abundance, to live a life of enjoyment, to live a life where you can sit down and just eat dinner and smile instead of pulling out a calculator and a pad of paper so that you can calculate calorie counts. Because, again, when you enhance the quality of the food you are eating, the system, itself, heals. You will feel satisfied when your body actually has enough fuel, and has enough energy. And because the quality of your food is high, you will get all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals you need, without over consuming calories, and you will tap into the body’s natural regulatory systems because again, they are designed to handle food. But when we put non-food in that system, all bets are off, and it becomes disregulated.
So, no need to starve yourself, no need to be hungry. No need to think of your body like a balance scale. Instead, and I know it doesn’t sound so sexy, but come on, we’re comparing it to a balance scale, which isn’t sexy either. Think of your body like a sink. Don’t worry about using less water, or standing there with a teaspoon and bailing water out for hours a day in Spandex. Only put things in the body that it was designed, or evolved, to handle, depending on your belief system, AKA food, things you find directly in nature, vegetables you could eat raw. You don’t have to eat them raw, but you could eat them raw. Think green, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, cucumbers, asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, onions. Good stuff.
And nutrient-dense meats and fish. Salmon is my favorite from a fish perspective, but also, things that we don’t really eat too much of in this country like mussels and clams and oysters. These are just delicious nutrient powerhouses. And of course, let’s make sure we are enjoying humanely treated animals. We don’t want to eat a sick cow. If you do eat meat, you don’t want to eat sick cows; that makes you sick. So, we want to make sure we are eating cows that were treated humanely and that were fed what cows are supposed to eat, too, which is grass, and not toxic, starchy, weird feed.
And then we want to eat whole food fats; think nuts and seeds. Some of my favorites are cocoa, coconut, chia seeds, flax seeds, avocados, olives, delicious, good stuff. And certain fruits that are low in fructose, but high in vitamins and minerals; think berries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and think citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes.
If we just put water in our sinks we could put all sorts of water in the sink because more water in means more water out. And when we eat actual food instead of getting 60% of our calories from non-food, you’d be surprised how much enjoyment you can have, how much food you can eat, and how great you can feel. As your body balances out calories automatically, it balances out everything else automatically.
Please don’t starve yourself. Free yourself from the scale in your bathroom and the balance scale sitting in your mind. Celebrate your metabolic sink and eat more and exercise less, but do that smarter, or do that with higher quality.
I’m Jonathan Bailor, and I’ll chat with you soon.