The Whole Foods Diet For Faster Fat Loss
In light of a bunch of recent questions on when to take Athletic Greens, Athletic Greens for a whole foods diet, belly fat, and fat loss on a whole foods diet, I decided to make it easy for you.
I’m going to break it down into three easy to digest sections:
How Athletic Greens supports a whole foods diet and aids fat burning
The easiest approach to a whole foods diet for fat reduction - no hunger necessary
Why sleep could be the one thing keeping you from whole foods diet success
Read it, do it and you can expect dramatic and EASY Fat Loss…
The Ultimate Accompaniment To Your Whole Foods Diet
Obviously, I created Athletic Greens, so I could be biased. But it also means I know more about it than anyone.
And let’s face it, if you’re reading this, you probably already take Athletic Greens to get a huge wallop of whole food sourced and readily absorbable micronutrients every day.
And you know that each ingredient has been pre-selected for efficacy and quality, and combined in optimal amounts for synergistic impact.
So I’ll start with my instructions for 95% of people on how and when to take Athletic Greens.
Wake up, take 1 serving of Athletic Greens, ideally in water. Do this every day. AND/OR take your serving of Athletic Greens immediately post workout. For 95% of people, this is the be all and end all of how you take Athletic Greens.
Eating (and absorbing) sufficient micronutrients is VITAL for every function in your body.
While your whole foods diet could be as near to perfect as possible, missing out on even one essential nutrient means your health suffers. We can survive for a long time, but thriving is a different story.
At the same time as providing those micronutrients, Athletic Greens works on your body’s ability to absorb ALL nutrients by improving gut health.
Improved gut health = increased nutrient absorption + lower inflammation
Since you know we need those nutrients, and inflammation is the number one cause of disease, you can see why this is useful.
Athletic Greens will also enhance your immunity, lightly detox your liver, and do a host of other cool little things like give your brain a neurotransmitter boost, improve your body’s ability to withstand stress (read section below on stress) and provide potent antioxidants aimed at improving cellular function and overall health.
It is not a meal replacement (who still eats these? please eat FOOD), it is not designed to be taken only on “cheat days” – it was designed to:
Fill gaps in your nutrition - likely to occur even with the “perfect” whole foods diet
Protect against disease, toxicity, and immune system suppression
Support your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, improving your absorption of nutrients
If you take Athletic Greens every day, it works. GI function will improve, micronutrient absorption will improve, immunity will improve, energy will improve.
And yes, getting all those benefits in a row will help with fat loss.
The other 5% of my instructions are for those who are overtraining, feeling sick, have gut health issues or are on antibiotics. In these cases, you want to dose up dramatically on Athletic Greens.
But, that is not the “plan” – as I said, it is designed so that you take it EVERY day, over time and in conjunction with a whole foods diet, smart lifestyle and exercise choices.
Do it this way and you will look, feel, and perform better. You will also get sick a lot less often, improve health right down to the telomere level (the ends of your DNA strands - antioxidants have been shown to do this) and enjoy overall greater energy.
Ideally, all of these will make you happier. THAT is our goal with this product.
These are all very good things. But none of that makes Athletic Greens a replacement for actual food that you chew…
Food Is First. Enter The Whole Foods Diet.
I would love to say ‘you heard it here first’ but deep down I am sure you already know this. We both know it.
If we all accept that food is first, there are some simple rules for nutrition. Follow these, you will be happily ripped in no time. As a plus, you will also live longer, feel healthier, and have far lower incidence of disease.
EAT for nutrient density
EAT to improve gut absorption of nutrients
EAT a macronutrient profile that lends itself to improved body composition and less disease
EAT sufficient quantity of quality food to deliver your body its macro and micronutrient requirements
DO NOT EAT anti-nutrients
DO NOT EAT foods that harm you
My Guide To The Whole Foods Diet For Fat Loss
This is an all-out, no bullocks, 30-day, “results guaranteed” way of eating. You won’t get hungry more than once or twice if you do it properly.
This is very, very easy. Note the words WHOLE FOODS DIET (that is what you will be eating, and the only thing you will be eating) and FAT LOSS – if you eat this way, and don’t change a thing, you will eliminate FAT.
Here is my ONE RULE:
Make every meal a healthy sequence of protein, good fats and non starchy veggies…
In that order and with NO exceptions.
Do this for 30 days (or 60, or forever, if you prefer), and get the bulk of your fat loss over and done with, quickly.
This ONE RULE, which automatically ensures a superior macronutrient ratio for fat reduction (and health) – has outstanding results with EVERYONE who tries it for the whole 30 days.
Kiwi! It can’t be that simple.
It is, but if you want the nitty-gritty, here is how it works:
1. Protein FIRST. Every meal, start by eating a clean, CHEWABLE quality source of protein.
What do I mean?
Meat (preferably grass-fed), (non-farmed) fish, free range poultry and eggs, and cleanly raised or game meats.
That is it.
Aim for a DAILY intake of 1 gram of protein per lb. of bodyweight or more. Yes, I really said that, and yes, it is harder than it sounds.
Break this protein intake over each of your daily meals (2 meals is ok, 3 meals is perfect and 4 is more than enough), and make getting in that quota of high quality animal sourced protein your priority at every meal.
Don’t like counting? I don’t either! So instead, I recommend doing it like this:
Eat your protein until you are about 75-80% of the way to satiety, check for fats, and fill up on veggies.
That means eat the animal-sourced protein component of your meal until you are nearly full (about 75-80% of the way the
2. Fat SECOND. “Good fats are your friend”.
After you get your whole food protein down, ensure you are getting some healthy, quality FATS at every meal.
For any meal that is made up of grass-fed meat, wild game, wild salmon, anchovies, or sardines, feel free to leave the FAT ON. This is clean fat, GOOD FOR YOU, and very good for your fat reduction. If this is the case, you can consider your fats covered for that meal.
“What If I Can’t Get Grass-fed Meat?”
Avoid grain-fed meat whenever budget and availability allow. Grain-fed cows are unhealthy and have a messed up omega 3 to omega 6 ratio (omega 6 heavy, frequently higher than 1:20).
If you have limited options, eating grain fed ruminants is STILL BETTER than not following the Whole Foods Diet For Fat Loss. However, for grain-fed meat go for the leanest cut you can (the fat on grain-fed meat is BAD).
So cut the fat OFF grain fed meat, go for the leanest cuts.
CHECK FOR FATS IN EVERY MEAL: For any meal that is not made up of grass-fed meat, wild caught salmon, or game meats, add or cook in 1 tablespoon of:
Grass-fed butter (the only dairy you will eat) OR
Organic ghee OR
The preference of those would be coconut oil, particularly for the first thirty days. Or even better: the rendered animal fat of a cleanly raised animal. Either because you bought it, or because you saved it from another cooking session where you cooked clean meat.
Other than coconut oil (with impunity) and small amounts of olive oil (LOW TEMP only), ALL OTHER VEGETABLE OILS are making you fat, inflamed, and unhealthy and they ARE BANNED FOR LIFE.
1) Food quality is extremely important. Go for the clean cuts of meat and wild caught oily fish wherever you can find and afford them. You can chow down with the fat ON these types of meat without even thinking about it. This is the BEST way to get your fats in your diet.
2) Add in clean fats to your meal as required, normally in what you cook in.
To recap: You have eaten your animal sourced protein until you are 80% full. Checked for clean fats, and added if required.
Close out the meal and keep chomping until you are no longer hungry. You will get a TON of micronutrient goodness with very few calories, so seriously, eat away until you are nicely satisfied! Here are my favorites:
Baby bok choy
Feel free to add your own.
You can do this as a stir-fry, steamed, raw, a big salad, a stew. Whatever makes you happy. Note that clean sauces, olive oil and balsamic vinegar in small quantities are fine.
Other than coconut oil, ALL other vegetable cooking oils are banned.
Please make sure you cycle through the veggie choices, and don’t be afraid to add plenty more, variety rocks.
Tip: Cook with herbs and spices to add variety in nutrients and flavors to your cooking. There is no need to get bored.
What about carbs you ask?
My answer: This is about eliminating FAT, which generally implies that you have some form of METABOLIC DERANGEMENT and INSULIN ISSUES… so what about them?
Limit fruit, eat NO carbs at all other than those naturally occurring in your vegetable selection, and only drink sugar-free, unsweetened beverages.
This means water, tea, black coffee.
Oh yeah, this also means NEVER EVER – EVER – EAT GLUTEN.
Ancestrally, we didn’t eat any processed carbs, or even a carb heavy diet, and we sure as heck didn’t eat much, if any gluten.
The longer you go without by the way, the easier it is to get past any carb addiction.
Move your body over to this, our more ancestral and evolutionary format for eating and quite simply… prepare to be amazed.
Note: Elite or very hard training athletes whose focus is on recovery (or fuel, in the case of endurance athletes) should eat some carbs post workout in the form of tubers. This means yams, sweet potatoes, taro, yuca, and potentially a small amount of fruit.
But this article is not about nutrition for those in season or training at significant volume or intensity, this is about fat reduction.
The Whole Foods Diet For Fat Loss Rules Again
Make every meal a healthy sequence of protein, good fats, and non starchy veggies…
In that order and with NO exceptions.
Nothing else. Do not eat anything else.
I repeat. If your goal is eliminating FAT, then for 30 days eat NOTHING ELSE.
NO CHEAT DAYS: Yep, no cheat days. You can have the odd OVEREATING day, but the rules for the food order and choices remain the same. Brazilian BBQ restaurants with a salad bar work a treat, as does a monster Thai “double” red chicken curry in coconut milk (ask them to hold adding sugar) and without the rice. Yummy.
NO GLUTEN: Gluten is the king of anti-nutrients. So that means not today, not on a cheat day, not once in the next 30 days, and ideally not ever.
NO GRAINS, NO CEREALS and NO LEGUMES: Sorry, they are OUT for my version of the 30 day Whole Foods Diet For Fat Loss. While legumes are by far a “lesser evil” when compared to gluten, the anti-nutrient content (lignans, lectin, saponins) plus the carb content rule them out.
All cereals and all grains out means no quinoa, no oats, no brown rice.
POST WORKOUT NUTRITION: see meal rules above, and athletes note my comments. Nothing changes if the primary goal is destroying fat.
NO JUICE. No juice, no juice…no juice. NOT ONCE.
NO DAIRY: No milk, cheese, whey protein, cottage cheese or anything else. Did you see ANY mention of dairy above other than grass-fed butter for people stuck without options for cooking grain-fed meat? Nope. That is because it is not in your diet at all the next 30 days.
NO LIQUID MEALS: This includes ALL protein shakes, blending up a ton of veggies and or fruit in a blender, or any “meal replacement” products. These will cause insulin spikes which don’t help your fat burning process one little bit. Blended is way better than juice, but even so, let’s limit those insulin spikes for the next 30 days.
LIMIT FRUIT: If you are seriously looking to lose fat I would be happiest if you ate NO FRUIT for the next 30 days. Too much fructose will mess up the best of fat reduction plans. If you must eat fruit post workout, stick to one serving or less of melon or berries. Vegetables have ALL those wonderful antioxidants and nutrients, but without the fructose.
SUPPLEMENTS: Athletic Greens for nutritional insurance and gut health (as required), fish oil for Omega 3s and to combat inflammation, and Vitamin D3 + K2 if you are not getting enough sun. Anything else is surplus, and purely elective. Heck, ALL of them are elective. Whole food is FIRST remember.
HUNGER and CALORIE COUNTING: there is no calorie counting. If you do it right, there will be no hunger either.
Just eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are full, but ONLY eat according to the rule above. If a lack of appropriate food choices means you can’t eat for a few hours, buck up and just hold on. You will thank me for it.
If it happens that you can’t find food that complies, just ENJOY the hunger, and when you can eat according to the rules, just make up for it in terms of volume.
Having this break from food intake won’t detrimentally harm your fat loss, or your muscle, or anything else. I promise.
That. Is. It.
Note: Just in case you are crying at the thought of what you CAN’T eat. Once you are ripped, you can start to play with the following:
Having a small amount of fruit post workout on occasion
Carbs in general post workout if your training necessitates it (tubers ideally, sometimes a bit of fruit - melons and berries are best)
Nuts and seeds (but watch volume)
Not worrying about having the odd meal where you go off the rails (a little, but if you are smart, NEVER gluten)
Playing with dairy a little – especially post workout if after MASS – and only if tolerated
Playing with blended smoothies – if you must, again, post workout ideal
Alcohol in moderation
Cheat meals done right (more on this later)
But, until you are ripped… try this EXACT eating pattern and food choices for EVERY meal for 30 days.
EXERCISE SMART: Lift weights with intensity 2-4 x per week, never more than 1 hour, and generally far less. Walk as often as you can. Sprint every now and again when orthopedically ready. It not orthopedically ready, work towards it aggressively with smart programming. We are made to sprint and few things beat it in terms of quality exercise.
RELAX: Spend more time on relaxation outdoors than you do now.
SUNSHINE: Get 30-60 minutes of sun daily. If you don’t get enough sun, supplement with some Vitamin D3, and think about changing your lifestyle or moving.
SLEEP: Chase 8-9 hours plus in a blacked-out room. Which brings me to...
Sleep. The Third Part Of The Whole Foods Diet Equation.
I don’t want you coming back to me at the end of your 30 days of the Whole Foods Diet For Fat Loss, without the results you were looking for.
So let me tell you a story to illustrate why SLEEP is crucial to success using the whole foods diet...
“Damn Kiwi! What’s going on man?” Toby exclaimed, with a pointed look at the new roll on my midsection.
Sitting beside his Arizona pool in our boardshorts, I could tell that Toby, a long term friend and prominent strength coach, was remembering the last time he had met me, when my abs had been visible while sitting. He was now looking at my rather different belly, obviously thinking I had gone the pasta and pastries route to altering my body composition.
“It’s not what you think mate” I said, “My diet compliance has been spot on.” To directly illustrate my point, I looked over to my girlfriend sitting in the sun by the pool, looking leaner (and even more scrumptious I might add) than the last time Toby had met her, and conspicuously lacking the belly fat I had recently accumulated.
Pointing to her I said to Toby, “Our diets have been identical in content, and compliant the whole way. It is just that I have been burning the candle at both ends, and now I am paying the price.”
“Ahhhh” Toby responded, understanding… “Cortisol”.
Yes, Toby had figured it out. Or more to the point, chronically elevated cortisol.
If you are not losing fat as fast as you would like or you have some pesky abdominal fat that just won’t go away… or you eat according to my Whole Foods Diet For Fat Loss guidelines but your efforts have stalled, or even worse, reversed a little…
This could be a problem for you too.
Let’s talk some numbers as they relate to my own experience with chronically elevated cortisol levels:
11 weeks sleeping only 3-4 hours a night due to an overactive brain and workload (aka, stress)
19 pounds of pure, wobbly, fat, most of it directly around the midsection (see photo)
10% body fat increase (from 8% to 18% body fat)
100% Diet compliance
That last item should scare you the most. The fact that this could happen while I was following a whole foods diet sure scared me.
Chris the Kiwi with Super Coach Eric Cressey
Note the general puffiness I have and the roll starting to push out through my shirt around the middle
I like to think I’m very good at what I do (helping people get lean, happy, and healthy), with some nearly fool proof measures to get lean fast, stay lean, and do so without any real duress.
Yet I was the fattest I’d been in years, with almost all of it around the middle.
The reason, and there is only one reason, chronically elevated CORTISOL levels.
How Cortisol Can Interfere With Fat Loss
Cortisol is a vital hormone released by the adrenal glands.
Most known for being released as part of our flight or fight response (hence described as the “stress” hormone), it has important impacts well beyond this:
Proper glucose metabolism
Metabolism of protein, fats and carbohydrates
Regulation of blood pressure
Regulation of cardiovascular function
We need cortisol. It gets bashed a bit unfairly in my opinion. It also acts as a potent anti inflammatory and really kicks off the healing process post workout or injury. It’s a natural part of our system.
Healthy people have slightly elevated cortisol levels on waking, generally termed the Cortisol Awakening Response, or CAR, and these levels slowly decline during the day, dropping to a low in the evening.
This is thought to be a process that evolved to allow us to get up and go on waking.
These relatively low levels that move from higher to lower during the day are the human norm.
In terms of fight or flight when under pronounced stress, we have a near instant and ACUTE spike in cortisol levels that causes several stress related responses. This instigates the immediate release of fats and glucose into our system, along with spikes in blood pressure and heart rate, providing us with readily available fuel to, well, go for it.
This same acute spike can also allow us to breakdown muscle protein to blood glucose for fuel (through gluconeogenesis), give us a brief spike in concentration and awareness, and generally assists us in getting out of trouble.
We are extremely well developed from a physiological standpoint to deal with this short term, very intermittent type of stressor, which comes with ACUTE elevations in cortisol levels.
Once the fight or flight part was over with (assuming we survived), we went on with our slower paced lives and generally allowed our levels to normalize again.
We are evolved to deal with this, and this response was in fact, designed to help us. T
he problem is NOT cortisol.
The problem kicks in when we have chronic (long term) elevated cortisol levels, for which we are absolutely NOT designed. Some typical symptoms include:
Fat around the midsection
Tend to have trouble falling asleep and sleep poorly
Waking up to pee
Suppressed testosterone levels (testosterone competes for the same resources)
Difficulty retaining or increasing muscle mass
Stalled progress in athletic performance
Black shadows under the eyes
Poor skin quality
Generally not feeling superhuman
Frequent upper respiratory tract infections
The “I need coffee” syndrome
Sluggish feelings in the morning, frequently waking up feeling more tired than when you went to sleep
This last is caused by a reverse of our normal diurnal rhythm.
So instead of having a nice Cortisol Awakening Response in the morning, we start the day beaten up with low cortisol levels which then elevate later at night, leaving us unable to sleep.
This is the cause of the so called “tired and wired” effect that leads to poor sleep and you guessed it, chronically elevated cortisol levels – talk about a vicious cycle).
For those with one or more of the above symptoms, then chances are very high this is the issue.
To those chasing fat reduction, or muscle gain, note that elevated cortisol levels generate the production of blood glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. In this process, cortisol induced signaling leads to your body breaking down your precious fat-burning muscle, and using it to create glucose, for fuel.
To make matters worse, cortisol blunts insulin sensitivity, making you more insulin resistant just as your body is squirting glucose into your system.
In other words, you could be living by the Whole Foods Diet for Fat Loss guidelines, and walking around with blood glucose and insulin levels of a pre-diabetic tubby walking out of an all-you-can-eat pasta joint.
This process prompts visceral fat accumulation, which can be deadly, as well as the notorious belly fat we all love to look at in the mirror.
The short version, good bye any hopes of reducing fat, and…
HELLO FAT ROLL.
Yep, chronically elevated cortisol levels are horrid, but in and of themselves, THIS IS
NOT THE PROBLEM.
Too many people get focused on what is ultimately a symptom.
We need to address the root of the cause. First and foremost we need to fix the stressors of our “modern” lifestyle.
I have an easy approach to returning you to the path of “ripped-ness.” I like to call it my…
ATM Approach To Cortisol Management.
What is it going to be today, a deposit, or another withdrawal?
If withdrawals outweigh your deposits, it does not take long for that account to be EMPTY.
To grow your “bank” account, you need to focus on making deposits as often as you can, and limit withdrawals as much as possible.
The exact same thinking applies to chronically elevated cortisol levels, except in this case, withdrawals are making demands on our adrenals or adding stressors, and deposits are reducing demands on our adrenals and decreasing our stressors.
I thought so, let’s play. Here is a basic, non-exhaustive chart showing some of the most common occurrences of seemingly simple lifestyle CHOICES.
If you believe you are suffering from chronically elevated cortisol levels, or want to change your health or body composition in a favorable direction, then all I want you to do is go down the column on the left and swap the WITHDRAWAL you are currently making, for a DEPOSIT.
If you do this, really do this, then in no time at all, you won’t recognize how much better you look, feel, and perform.
I put some footnotes at the bottom which should help you out.
ATM Approach to Cortisol Management
A couple of notes for you about this chart.
This is not exhaustive
The first three are NON-negotiable. Sleep quantity and sleep quantity are BOTH important.
If you’re a shift-worker or a new parent, I feel for you. Just do the best you can and apply as many as you can.
If you’re NOT suffering from chronically elevated cortisol levels, then the comments on intermittent fasting and very short weights workouts do not apply.
Endurance exercise dramatically elevates cortisol levels. Unless you are in love with a sport associated with intense endurance exercise, skip it.
Coffee and caffeine – being a coffee lover, and a realist, I wouldn’t dream of telling you to give this up cold turkey. But be realistic, try and limit the number of coffees per day, and keep reducing it.
The sun. Whether you look at it for Vitamin D levels, neurotransmitter activity, or simply the feeling of well-being and relaxation we get from sun exposure, go get some. All will help reduce cortisol levels
Alcohol suppresses testosterone and causes a spike in cortisol levels. Keep to ¾ of a glass of wine or LESS
Chasing relaxation (and avoiding things that directly stress you) are going to be key to lowering your total cortisol levels.
You will note that I said NOTHING here about DIET!!
I am assuming you are already following, or have committed to starting my Whole Foods Diet For Fat Loss.
Food is first for a reason, with sleep and cortisol management only fractionally behind in terms of importance in my opinion.
You will note that in this post I also did not cover jobs, relationships, choices of where we live, what we do each day, what we buy, or even how some of us decide to live our lives from a possession-is-wealth mentally. In other words, the many other choices we make that directly impact our lifestyle, our stress levels, and our happiness.
We can save all of that for later.
In the immediate future, I CHALLENGE you to commit to your whole foods diet and aggressively go after as many of these “withdrawals” as you can, replacing them with “deposits”. Then look me in the eye in a month and tell me you don’t look, feel, and perform like a whole new person.
A happier person.
If you do this Whole Foods Diet For Fat Loss plan, really truly do this, including managing your sleep and stress levels, you will not regret it. Trust me.