Such a controversial topic I know! So here I am sharing my 2 cents on this matter after an awesome interview I recently did on Vive Nutrition Radio with online fitness coach and influencer Jordan Syatt
If you don’t know who he is, he used to be GaryVee’s personal trainer for a long time. Now he teaches people how to lose weight in sustainable ways.
Jordan recently did a “BIG MAC CHALLENGE”. He started it as a way to prove he could lose weight eating one big mac every day for 30 days. That he did. Not only he lost 7 lbs in 30 days but also opened the eyes to thousands of people about one true fact: “Bad” foods are not the reason you can’t lose weight, calories are.
But I will extend on this a bit
You are probably thinking, it’s pretty “unhealthy” to be eating one big mac every day. According to Jordan, he hated it and would not recommend it to anyone, but he did it with the purpose of proving a very important point than strictly for weight loss, controlling overall caloric intake is extremely important.
A while ago a documentary on Netflix called Supersized Me caused a lot of controversy about the effect fast food consumption could pose on health. Morgan Spurlock (The director) ate at McDonald’s for 30 days. He gained weight, negatively impacted his blood markers, mood, among other unfavorable things.
Here is the difference between Jordan’s Big Mac Challenge. Morgan stopped exercising, he ate McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (large sizes), with drinks, fries, and all the goodies. Jordan ate ONE BIG MAC PER DAY, skipped the drink and the fries and here is what his day looked like.
11 AM: Greek Yogurt with Fruit
1 PM: Big Mac
Afternoon Snack: Lots os fruit
Nighttime: A full meal with meat, vegetables, and a whole-grain type carbohydrate.
He also got ~10K STEPS EVERY SINGLE DAY and worked out during this time.
Morgan gained weight, Jordan lost weight.
You can explain this because Jordan most likely creating a calorie deficit even with the ~600 Calorie Big Mac. See, most people like to see nutrition by singling out foods and immediately categorizing them as “HEALTHY” and “UNHEALTHY” and for some magical reason, most people (including you reading this… yeah you know you’ve thought about this), the MORE “HEALTHY” foods we include in our diets, the better results we can achieve. That is not a bad assumption or thought process, but you can also consume TOO MANY calories worth of “HEALTHY FOODS” and probably the reason you keep telling yourself “but I eat CLEAN and I am not seeing results” and you get upset about the fact that one guy at a BIG MAC every day for 30 days and lost 7 lbs. It’s not genetics my friend, it’s simple math.
Having said all this, food quality is important, and including more wholesome foods will help you be a healthier you of course. In fact, when you include more quality foods like fruits and vegetables, you increase fiber consumption which helps you control your hunger levels and therefore control your urges and cravings for food. So quality REALLY matters and it is a lot more than CALORIES IN and CALORIES OUT, but it all starts there.
I teach my clients what Dr. Eric Elms termed:
THE NUTRITION HIERARCHY PYRAMID
Nutrition for fat loss or muscle growth is dependent on the establishment of a foundation that follows a progression on all the boxes that need to be checked to achieve optimal results ?⠀
My job as a dietitian is to give you the tools to accomplish your goal in a way you just apply this pyramid without really knowing it even exists. ⠀
I am here to briefly dissect these components ⠀
WE FIRST FOCUS ON CALORIES (OR ENERGY BALANCE)
Regardless of the type of diet if you so choose to follow (Keto, Paleo, etc) you will not achieve anything if you don’t have a proper caloric intake according to your goal (Too little calories for muscle gain for example). Also understanding these concepts allows you to grasp the idea that eating one big mac daily can fit into the energy balance equation if what you consider what happens the rest of day
WHAT ABOUT THE MACRONUTRIENTS?
Macros (Proteins, Carbs, and Fats, Alcohol) is what makes up your caloric balance and the distribution of these is the next step we have to take. The proper distribution of them will dictate the level of results you achieve. This is the next step in figuring out how you split those calories daily. I focus the most on achieving your protein goals since it is (to me) the most important macronutrient.
QUALITY OF NUTRITION MATTERS. THIS IS WHERE WE LOOK AT MICRONUTRIENTS
Vitamins, Minerals, Phytochemicals will make up micronutrition. This is fundamental⠀
To keep all systems operational. Eating one big mac for lunch and pairing that up with lots of fruits, vegetables, and nutritious foods the rest of the day will ensure you are getting the rest of your nutrients. I AM NOT saying go do it, but rather, explaining the bigger picture here⠀
HOW OFTEN TO EAT? MEAL TIMING AND FREQUENCY
A few years ago, this was everything! You have to eat every 2-3 hours to boost your metabolism right? It’s not always the case and meal timing and frequency are very dependent on what works for the person. For example, a professional athlete that needs 5000 calories daily cannot split that up into 2-3 meals/day, just like a fat loss client finds it easier to split 1600 calories into 2-3 more satisfying meals⠀
WHAT ABOUT SUPPLEMENTS?
They can fill important gaps and can provide an edge in sports and performance, however, they are not necessary. People that want to start here often miss the whole picture
So there you have it. Jordan lost weight because these important components were put in place. He was achieving a calorie deficit, still filling his day with nutritious foods, but also adding an “UNHEALTHY” food choice daily to prove the point that FOOD is not inherently bad, it’s your perspective of it in the bigger scheme of your nutrition that matters the most
I teach people how to find that balance. Want to find out more?