The Secret to Fat Loss: Balanced Eating in the Middle

  • Watch this Video explaining Eating Principle #1 and read below. 
  •  We would love for you to try the Eating Challenge at the end of this page.
People are always asking “what should I eat?”, “is this bad to eat?” or “I eat well, but I never lose weight.”  So what exactly is the secret to burning fat?
The truth is that we can lose weight on an unhealthy diet and gain weight on a healthy one. Remember the guy that just ate all Twinkies and lost weight? As humans we want simple black and white answers, yet all of life is about continuously rebalancing our mind and body and living in the middle ground, safely away from the extremes. There is no one way to eat for fat loss, but nature has given us some guidelines.
The commercial diet and supplement industry has repeatedly conned people with a continuous flow of new magic ingredients for weight loss and hard-edged diets. Most diets work to some extent because you are paying attention to what you are putting into your body, i.e. being mindful and eating more vegetables. They focus on specific rules, foods and supplements rather than the actual learning  and experiences of eating different foods at different times. This is why there are no studies proving any of them work long-term.
You can assume most diets making big claims are all marketing garbage from people just trying to make a quick buck. There are billions of dollars made each year on new material and the success rate is extremely low. Don’t let yourself  be sold on a fantasy pill/diet, just ignore them and focus on the real everyday food that is under your control. Try to find news ways of upgrading your nutrition everyday. Finding a middle path is the key to success, where you can enjoy eating without it owning you.


Fat loss depends on several things, but mostly on how much you eat/drink, i.e. how many calories you ingest. Body chemistry also plays a role in burning fat. We still don’t fully understand the exact process, but we can learn from experience, which tells us that we can lose weight by eating fewer calories.
The simplified equation for fat loss:
We know that eating too much has a negative impact on our metabolism causing us to build or store fat and we can feel it directly in our belly, energy and mood. However if we eat too little this is also metabolically problematic, as it tells our body that it is starving and sends us plummeting into a calorie conserving state, where we end up feeling too hungry and overeat. Either extreme and our body will hold onto more calories and become a fat storing machine, so we need to find homeostasis in order to become a fat burning machine.


Click here to get to the calorie calculator that will tell you exactly how many calories
 you need to reach your goal.


Logically we know that it is much easier to avoid eating/drinking tons of unhealthy calories than it is to burn them. When the moment of choice arrives, we often forget this logic or feel more motivated by the pleasure of eating/drinking and so we eat too much and gain fat. The basic example below will show you just how drastic a difference it is to help motivate your reduced calorie eating.

At a party someone might have cheese and crackers, 2 drinks (beers/wine), then eat a chicken sandwich, followed by a fudge brownie in the course of 1 hour. This single meal could easily be over 1200 calories worth of food/drink, making it likely that with two other meals and snacks someone a couple thousand calories over their limit that day. It would take hours and hours of running to burn that off (not worth it!)

Look at what it takes to burn just 600 of those calories via exercise:

155 lb Women:

  • 4 hours: Walking on flat ground
  • 1.5 hours: Biking moderately
  • 1 hours: Running 9 min/mile, or nearly 7 miles

185 lb Man:

  • 3 hours: Walking flat
  • 1.1 hours: Biking moderately
  • 45 min: Running 9 min/mile, or 5 miles
Getting your calories in the correct range is a necessary part of the plan and often times the most challenging for people, which is why we are starting there. You might not want to hear that tracking your calorie levels is where you have to start, because it sounds more difficult than just cutting out certain foods or adding in special diet foods, however this is where our eating mindfulness begins and how you’re going to start getting your results. You have to know where you are calorically, so you can make the right adjustments, but this is just the beginning of our 10 Step Program.


Several things affect these numbers and make it not just a game of counting calories, but focusing on balanced body chemistry and knowing yourself as well. Understanding these factors will help motivate us to be more mindful, balanced eaters.
1. Metabolic Rate: This is how many calories your body regularly burns just to live and perform. All the bodily functions of breathing, pumping blood, thinking, body heat, etc. burn calories. We are all very different shapes and sizes, so this number is dramatically different if you are 5 ft and  125 lbs. vs. 6 ft and 225 lbs.  The old 2000 calories per day is not the standard to go by. We give tools to estimate it, but ultimately we want to work towards a deeper mindfulness of when you feel you’ve consumed what you need vs. going over or under. Your body is pre-loaded with this intuition, we have just forgotten how to pay attention to it, or are blinded by all the treats pushed in front of us by the big processed food companies.
2. Exercise: In order to burn fat our program requires a more complete approach than just reducing your caloric intake, it includes eating healthier foods and simultaneously increasing your caloric output with exercise that includes strength training. This will help you get to your goals faster, but don’t over estimate it as most people do and justify lots of extra treats and calories, use it as the extra caloric output that brings you below your daily metabolic rate.
See example below, but in our Unite workouts larger people tend to burn 700-1000 calories, with smaller people in the range of 400-700.
3. Thermogenic Effect: The amount of calories it takes just to digest certain foods. natural, healthy, whole foods have skin, fiber, complex macronutrients, etc. and so they take more energy to digest, which in our current world of plenty is a very helpful. Our digestive and energy systems were built to consume natural foods in their whole form, so when we eat artificial, over processed foods, we not only kill the nutrients in them and run on crap, we mess up our insides. It’s like putting the wrong fuel in your car and expecting it to run well. The rules of physics say that energy is released naturally when things are broken down, so the less of our food we have to break down the less healthy energy we will experience. Try to feel this as you shift towards more natural, unprocessed foods.
4. Hormonal/Insulin Cycle: The macronutrient content of different foods, the state they are consumed in and the timing with which we eat them all affect our body chemistry. Our hormonal response is the traffic light for burning fat or gaining weight. When our meals are totally lopsided in one macronutrient, usually carbohydrates and sugar, versus balanced with fat, protein and veggies, it throws the body chemistry into a more extreme state. If we binge eat it, that makes it worse and if we are choosing processed foods that have already been broken down into simple sugars, it amplifies it even further into an extreme insulin spike, which then doubles the fat storage. More on this in future steps. These other major factors show us that a focus solely on calories is not the best approach.


1-2% / MONTH

You should notice that this first eating principle and our program puts the focus squarely on fat loss, not weight loss and here is why. When the focus is on losing weight and not fat specifically it allows for odd diets and workout programs that have you losing water and muscle weight instead of mostly fat. This is not a healthy type of weight loss and does not lead to an athletic, toned body.
The general accepted guideline for healthy weight loss is an average of 1-2 pounds per week, which equates to a daily caloric deficit of 500-1000 calories based on 3500 calories equaling 1 lb. More than 2 lbs of weight per week is likely to be dehydration, as a 2 lb loss requires an extraordinary calorie deficit of over 1000 calories per day. Not an easy feat as it requires high time commitments to daily vigorous exercise with very disciplined clean eating.
Also we say average, because while you should weigh yourself weekly you should really look at the trend by averaging it across 2-3 weeks to see if you are on track. If you are not including strength training in your exercise program you will likely be losing muscle as well as fat. This is detrimental to sustained fat loss because added lean muscle helps in the fat loss process and keeps your metabolism/body strong. Keep the main focus on your monthly body fat reduction with attention to detail.


Sustainable fat loss is realized when YOU find the right balance for YOU by being mindful to what YOU eat/drink and the effects/results it has on YOUR body and mind. We know this to be true in experience as some people have food allergies and react harshly to certain foods while others are fine. With no two biologies being exactly the same we cannot say exactly what everyone should eat, but we can give general guidelines and help coach you to figuring out what works in your body and life. A bit of trial and error, but with a much greater attention to detail and long term results.

In addition to awareness, we are asking for an openness to changing what you eat, when you eat, how much, why, etc. Check in to see how attached you are to certain foods, eating at certain points of the day, portion sizes, etc. These are the habits that handcuff you into a lower level of health and fitness, so let’s start breaking those bonds and freeing ourselves to try a few new things.