Posted by on Sep 24, 2014

Von Blanco is a Chicago-based personal trainer (NSCA) and nutrition coach (Precision Nutrition). When he’s not training, Von writes at where he talks about flexible dieting, minimalist training, and lifehacking. Want to train with Von? Check out his latest Fitocracy Team.

“Eat more green vegetables.”

“Avoid sugar as much as possible.”

“Have protein with every meal.”

“Eat only whole foods and avoid all sorts of processed foods.”

“Try to only drink water.”

When it comes to diet and nutrition for fat loss, we’ve heard it all.

Okay maybe not everything, but I can guarantee that we’ve all heard a thing or two about this thing called weight loss.

We’ve always been told that in order to lose fat we have to 1) exercise regularly and 2) start eating healthy/clean.

So always eat green vegetables, avoid all processed foods, eat only whole foods, drink only water, and we can all lose weight and live happily ever after… right?

Well, not exactly.

It’s Not All About Food Choices

You see, it’s still possible to gain weight while eating clean.  That’s why when it comes to fat loss it isn’t just about eating healthy foods.

At the end of the day, the way you shed fat is by going on a calorie deficit AKA eating less and/or exercising more. Fat loss is not — and I repeat, IS NOT — dependent on how clean you eat.

The best way to explain all of this is through a real life scenario.



On the left we have Ms. Healthy Kelly and on the right we have Ms. Sane Jane. For demonstration purposes, both are the same age (25), same height (5’ 6”), same weight (132 lbs), and have the same exact lifestyles. This means that both Kelly and Jane have a total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) of about 1,880 calories — roughly the amount of calories they need to consume in order to maintain their weight.

Looking at Kelly’s diet, it consists of nothing but “clean” healthy foods. But guess what? If both of them were to repeat this diet for the rest of the week, Kelly would end up gaining weight. Despite the fact that Jane had McDonald’s and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream throughout the week, she would actually end up maintaining her weight.

So how is this possible?

It’s simple: Kelly consumed more calories throughout the week than she was supposed to. Yes, she ate “healthier” than Jane, but her calorie consumption by the end of the week was a little too much.

Now for a different scenario with a guy named Bob who is trying to lose weight. Let’s say he wants to have one more meal for the day. For some odd reason, he could only resort to either a 6” Tuna Sandwich from Subway or a McDouble from McDonald’s. Unsure about his total calorie intake for the day, he has to choose the right food in order to keep his calorie consumption down.

Subway is supposed to be the better choice because it’s healthier, correct? Well, let’s look at the calorie difference.


Despite the fact that it has healthy ingredients like lettuce, red onions, green peppers, and tomatoes, the sub still has about 100 calories more than the McDonald’s sandwich! (Note: these figures are as of writing this article)

Now imagine all of the people you know who go to Subway for a quick meal just because they heard of Jared the Subway Guy’s weight loss story. And you know what, people don’t always buy 6 inch subs; a footlong can stack up to about 1,000+ calories!

Get the idea now?

Eat Less, Eat Healthy, But Stay Sane

Now does this mean that we can have McDonald’s everyday because it’s possible to lose weight as long as we watch our calories? Of course not. You still want to make sure that you have a proper diet rich in both macro- and micro- nutrients that come from whole foods in order to stay healthy. What it does mean, though, is that you can eat things like fast food and still lose fat at the same time.

It’s all about moderation. Treat your diets like Sane Jane and don’t feel so bad about having your favorite foods here and there.

We need to enjoy the things life has in store for us.

There’s no need eat chicken and broccoli every meal of every day.

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