The NEW Food Pyramid – Getting Beyond Just Calories

The New Food Pyramid! How to lose weight, build muscle, have more energy, and feel great without calorie counting, starving yourself, or being miserable.

Why is nutrition so hard?

-Manufacturers make food hyper palatable

-Food production emphasizes efficiency over health

-Many social media influencers don’t know what they’re talking about and social media tends to reward hot takes, all or nothing thinking, etc.

-A lot of “evidence based” information is really “shred of evidence” based, “credential” based, or “sponsored by food manufacturers without proper disclosure evidence” based.

-Government/Academic based information is not as independent from industry as we would like.  Too many of these institutions have become rife with undisclosed conflicts of interest.  This is why we made the NEW food pyramid.

-Some highly intelligent people from the research world have no idea how to actually effect positive change in another individual in the real world.

Why I’ve fallen out of love with counting calories:  I still think it can be helpful sometimes, but beyond establishing a basic level of awareness, it has a lot of pitfalls for regular folks trying to get in shape and feel good.

-Whole foods are harder to log while packaged food is easier to log

-There is a lot of false precision.  Food labels can be off by plus or minus twenty percent.  The margin for error is much higher than the 200-500 calorie deficit most people should shoot for.

-A lot more than calories matter about your food choices

Calories are calories; and miles are miles.  Folks I would describe as “Ivory Tower” nutritionists love to assert that calories are calories.  It’s a perspective that comes from being well versed in pubmed articles, but not well versed in helping real world people eat well consistently.  They aren’t necessarily wrong.  When controlled for calories and protein intake, virtually any way of eating works the same for weight management. What the ivory tower folks don’t get is that real people in the real world are not in a setting that is controlled for calories and protein.  If you want to reduce caloric intake, you can’t ignore that some foods are far easier to over eat. This is the same as acknowledging that a mile in a limo with some champaign is in fact different from a mile hiking up Mount Washington with a full pack, though both are miles.

Calories are only part of the story.  Here is the whole story: Weight gain and loss is affected by calories.  Satiety (fullness), cravings, daily energy, micro-biome health, and inflammation, are all factors of the quality of the food we eat.  Food quality will influence the quantity of the food we eat in the real world.

This is why we made the NEW food pyramid.  This is the simplest way I have figured out how to get people to eat well enough to lose weight, build muscle, have more energy, and feel great without calorie counting, starving yourself, or being miserable.

Start at the TOP of the pyramid with a sugar and junk purge.  The top of the pyramid is the stuff that everyone says they don’t really eat.  But they do.  We all do : )

Start with a sugar purge: check every food label for added sugar and replace/eliminate anything that contains it.  Hint: sugar has been added to EVERYTHING.  I found a healthy looking package of beef jerky that had as much added sugar as a bag of skittles.  We need the sugar purge so that you are only having refined sugar when you actually intend to, aka dessert.  You aren’t supposed to have dessert all day every day and until you purge the refined sugar, you likely are.

There are 5 levels of intensity with which you can go after the top of the food pyramid:

  1. All In: ZERO refined sugar, alcohol, and junk for 30 days.  I highly suggest everyone goes 30 days without alcohol at least once a year.  Might as well do the other nutritional improvements while you are there.  Keep a time limit on this.  No one needs to be a purist indefinitely.

  2. Fast Results: After removing the refined sugar from your every day, allow yourself to have desert, alcohol, and junk once per week.  I’m not a fan of the concept of “cheat” meals because you aren’t cheating.  As long as you’re lifting hard 3 days a week and walking an hour on your other days, you can have a portion controlled desert and a couple drinks once per week and you’ll still lean out at a good pace.

  3. Slow Results: allow yourself desert, alcohol, and junk twice per week.  Why would you want slow results?  Look, if it’s summer and you want to drink more than once a week or otherwise be a little more relaxed, I get it.  I’d rather be realistic and proactively decide to have slower results than for you to just eat and drink like an @$$hole all Summer and then have a big mess to clean up in the Fall.

  4. Maintenance: The ONLY times I recommend maintenance as your goal are holidays and vacations.  This is why we always do a challenge where maintenance is the goal between Thanksgiving and the New Year.  Most people gain most of the weight that they’ll gain in the whole year during this time.  If you do great the rest of the year, and simply maintain during the Holidays, you are killing it!

  5. Moving Backwards: Obviously I never recommend this but let’s talk about it so we can recognize it.  You’re not meal prepping, you’re eating for convenience and comfort.  You’re saying “Screw it. I deserve a treat” waaaaaay too often.  Desert and alcohol are every day or close to it.  Any rules you might have about limiting alcohol, sugar, and processed foods are out the window.  You’re not that bad compared to the stars of my 600lbs life but that’s not saying much.  Have you ever gotten to the end of an extended period of not giving a crap and said “I’m glad I let myself do that”?

Finish with the BOTTOM of the pyramid.  You can’t just eliminate things.  You also need to ADD food to your every day.  Fruits, veggies, and lean meats come in unlimited varieties and delicious combinations.  Get after it!  Once you’ve given your taste buds a break from hyperpalatable processed foods, you’ll enjoy the full flavor of REAL food that nourishes your body and make you feel great.

Make enough change to get some momentum.  Momentum is a performance enhancing drug.  Weight loss feels great.  Daily energy feels great.  Getting stronger feels great.  If you truly embrace living a healthy lifestyle and conducting yourself like you want to thrive, you will quickly build the kind of momentum that easily allows for occasional treats and setbacks without a loss of what you’ve worked for.

When you are ready for a gym tour and to see if we are a good fit, fill out the form on the top or bottom of this page and I will be in touch : )

Serving Portsmouth, Kittery, and the broader Seacoast community, we help people finally get in shape, feel confident, and have all day energy, even if getting everything done is a constant struggle.


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