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In Pictures: Why We’re Fat – The Crazy Home Experiment About The “Truth” Behind Calories

Why fat image

How Many Calories Do I Need to Lose Weight? The Truth 

Many people wonder “how many calories do I need to lose weight?” The pictures below are presented to illustrate one point: The world of dieting and health has become over-complicated.

There are a lot of diets in the world today. There are diets that have you analyze vitamin intake, there are diets that have you read every label on the food you eat, there are diets that have you meticulously count every calorie you consume, and there are diets that require more time measuring than actual gym time.

Guess what they all have in common? For  99% of people they don’t work.  It’s just an absurd amount of work — work that virtually no one can follow through with.

This seems to be the trend in modern society – for success, for happiness, for muscle gain, for being a better spouse, for getting sex tips in Cosmo – it’s always 457 tips.

You ever wonder if there’s an easier way?

Making some kind of claim like “If you follow my system to the dot, I guarantee you’ll experience XYZ results,” is total garbage.

The important thing isn’t your system or diet – the important thing is how many people will actually do it.

That’s why I give people just one insanely effective piece of advice for reversing chronic disease and for losing weight: Just eat real food.

The Surprising Truth Behind Getting Fat And Gaining Weight (Pictures)

How many calories do I need to lose weight

For the past 3 years, I’ve been working on gaining weight.

Now before you think I’m either insane, or an idiot, or both, being insanely skinny as a male is emotionally like being insanely overweight as a female – society’s image of the perfect male is a guy out of  300.

Thus part of my quest to gain weight. I had been lifting weights regularly for 4-5 years but I wasn’t seeing much growth, and I was getting frustrated.

But there was a problem. I ate “too healthy” to gain weight. It’s surprisingly hard to gain weight when you eat just… food.

In order to gain weight, after eating a plate full of sweet potatoes, chicken, and vegetables, I would toss down a double shot of olive oil (yes, I’m serious), or a couple tablespoons of peanut butter.

And that’s when I realized – if all you eat during the course of a day is “real food” – you end up staying full way longer, and eat way fewer calories – even though subjectively you feel like you’re stuffing yourself.

It’s virtually impossible to dramatically overeat when you just eat the right foods.

That’s when I got the idea for an experiment.

My Interesting Little Home Experiment

I wondered – how come I could only eat a big piece of chicken, some sweet potatoes, and plants and feel stuffed, but a large handful of M&M’s or Doritos would have the same amount of calories and leave me starving?

How come I could go out and eat 1,500 calories of Taco Bell and still have room, but another healthy meal at home would leave me stuffed with 1/3 of those calories?

So here’s what I did: I cooked a typical, 500 calorie meal for me. And then I decided to show you what that actually looks like with various other junk/snack foods — the pictures will shock you.

I want to show two things:

  • A. For most people, in order to lose weight and reverse many chronic diseases – just eat real food – you will naturally not overeat – you will naturally feel full – you will naturally eat fewer calories – you will automatically get tons of vitamins and nutrients and get sick less.
  • B. Eating real food is massively more satiating. That’s partly due to the protein, but junk food is also specially engineered to be addictive. More on that later.

 It All Began With Some Doritos

How many calories do I need to lose weight

How many calories do I need to lose weight

And Then I Became Curious – How Much Did One Serving of Doritos Compare to “Real Food” I Might Eat at Lunch?

So I put some doritos on a scale, and measured it to 150 calories-worth ( 29g ).

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…. And I crushed them up like some happy time drugs..

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And I compared to them to 150 calories worth of chicken (about 5 oz):

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And then I put them side by side…

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These are the same calories – 150

… These are the same calories.

“Hmmm, interesting.” I thought.  The chicken is a lot to eat. But I could inhale those Doritos at a party. Let’s keep experimenting though.

 

So What About Some Veggies?  How Many Do You Need to Match the Doritos?

So then I took 3 full peppers

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3 Full Peppers – About 150 Calories

… And chopped them up.

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3 Full Peppers – Chopped

… And put them next to the Doritos

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ALL of the peppers on the left (combined) are still fewer calories than that small handful of doritos.  But we’ll say they’re “roughly the same.”

The Doritos to the right add up to 150 calories – the peppers? About 135.  That is a tiny handful of Doritos, something like 10 chips.

On a cheat day, It’s pretty easy to inhale 5 handfuls of Doritos and not even feel it in my stomach.

But those peppers were my veggie intake for more than three meals.

But What About a Nice Oreo Snack – How Does That Compare?


What if we took Oreos though – how many oreos would it take to match the calories of some peppers?

How many calories do I need to lose weight

3 Oreos = 160 Calories. Still more than the peppers (About 135 Calories)

What’s interesting is that it takes me a couple meals to eat those peppers. But I can scarf down three oreos (or 5-10) in a few minutes.

But let’s not stop there. What about a nice nutritious breakfast of frosted flakes?

Or a Nice, Nutritious Breakfast of Frosted Flakes?

I took 41g of frosted flakes (150 calories)

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And then smashed them up a bit, and put them side by side with my peppers.

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The frosted flakes have roughly the same amount of calories as these peppers. And that’s without the milk 😉

Forgetting the sugar and the other garbage, this is roughly the same amount of calories as the peppers.  And that’s without the milk at breakfast.

Or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

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It only takes two Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to suprass the amount of calories in that entire plate of peppers.

Or M&M’s?

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That small handful of M&Ms is roughly the same amount of calories as the peppers.

Okay – This is Just For a Few Peppers – But What About For an ENTIRE Meal? How Would They Compare?

I decided to go ahead and make my actual lunch. My lunch involved:

  • 4.6 oz of chicken
  • 8 oz of sweet potatoes (227g)
  • 4.9 oz of bell peppers (139g)
  • 495 calories

And remember, this is a lunch that leaves me STUFFED.

Here was my lunch:

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4.6 oz Chicken, 8 oz sweet potato (227g) & 4.9 oz peppers (139g)

How a Full Meal Compares to Doritos

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How a Full Meal Compares to Oreos

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How a Full Meal Compares To Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

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How a Full Meal Compares to Frosted Flakes

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How a Full Meal Compares to M&Ms

How many calories do I need to lose weight

What it Looks Like All Together

How many calories do I need to lose weight

“That’s Cool And All.. But What Does This Crap Mean For Me?”

Everyone knows that junk food is bad for them.  I don’t need to go into detail on that.

But few people realize how easy it is to overeat with certain foods and not feel full (and not just with junk food).  

And few people realize how much easier it is to “eat until you’re full” and still lose weight when you just eat real food.

For example, the M&Ms that equal my entire meal were about two handfuls. I can easily polish those off mindlessly while watching TV.

And the Doritos? If I eat Doritos, I’ve never eaten less than 500 calories worth in one sitting. They’re airy and crunchy, and just not that filling.

Many foods give you the illusion that you are eating only a little, but you end up dramatically over eating.

Although I’ve used junk foods in this example, I’ve noticed a similar effect when eating fast food, drinking too many calories, or eating a medium-high carbohydrate diet.

Part of the benefit of eating real food is that (real) protein and (real) fat stimulate the release of hormones that say “I’m full.”  And many “fake foods” are specifically engineered to be more addictive and non-satiating.

Stop Making Your Health Complicated

Weight loss is not merely about eating fewer calories.  It’s time to start thinking about what you eat rather than how much you eat.

Stop asking stupid questions like “which diet do I pick?”

Do you think a freaking Eskimo used to have to think about what kind of food to eat for maximal longevity and health?

One thing I constantly talk about here is that we need to stop making weight loss and fixing  chronic disease so complicated. The more homework you give people (calorie counting, nutrition calculations, vitamin ratios, logging everything that goes in their body) the less likely they are to actually follow through on your plan.

And the most important part of the diet is creating a system that actually works (NOT the diet).

You don’t need a bloody pie chart with stats and figures and do’s and don’ts every time you go into the grocery store.

When you “just eat real food” you automatically stay full and experience less hunger.

You automatically eat fewer calories.

You automatically see health problems improve and get better (especially if you lose a lot of weight).

You automatically get more nutrients and vitamins that prevent you from getting another cold this month.

My hope in publishing this is to remind you to focus on big wins and to keep it simple – the more complex it becomes, the less likely you are going to follow through, and the less likely you will be to see results and improve your health.

Stop making it complicated.

Just. Eat. Real. Food.

— Alex

(If you agree, holla at me in the comments below. If you hate me and want to send me hate mail, please comment anyway).

Images: Truth

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  Read more about this in my book Master The Day. You’ll learn the nine daily success habits I learned interviewing people that lost 100+ pounds and kept it off in a healthy way – by changing their habits. Plus, you’ll get a free $100 bonus video course if you show me your receipt. You can get the audiobook here too.

115 comments… add one

  1. Alexander, my nephew, I see what this is about and I am liking it, I totally agree with you except for one thing with this way of eating comes exercise, even if you eat that well everyday, calories are calories.

    Reply
    1. Scientists have shown that the same amount of calories from margarine are way more harmful to the body systems than the same calories from an all natural oil. So whereas I can not agree with you that “calories are calories” I do agree that exercise is an important part of overall healthy… use or loose it is what my grandpa always said. An active life is a long life. Studies show that people in two story homes have longer life spans because of the daily stair climbing, that aught to tell people something right there. HOWEVER, he was not saying that “calories are not calories” HE was saying that junk food tends to have more calories per smaller serving than real food and that is why people over eat junk food. Which, in the long run, affects how much calories a person does intake in a day, in a week… so if people ate a real meal followed by a couple cookies instead of just snacking on cookies they would stop themselves from overeating calories that don’t fill them up… and I do agree with that.

      Reply
      1. You’re correct! See my article on Margarine here: http://modernhealthmonk.com/are-hydrogenated-oils-good-or-bad-for-you-cancer/

        Reply
    2. You still have my attention. Everything you’ve said so far makes sense.

      Reply
      1. Thanks Richard, I hope it helps.

        Reply
  2. calories from junk food are not the same as calories from real food. the body is a singular unit and can only run at optimum speed when it’s not busy detoxing all the shit from fake processed foods.

    Reply
    1. Most importantly, your body can only run well and function properly when it has the nutrition it needs. Junk is junk – little or no nutritional value. Real food is full of the building blocks that your body needs to produce energy for daily activities and repair so that you wake up full of energy and ready for another day of Life 🙂

      Reply
  3. That makes perfect sense – simple and concise. Many thanks for making it easier to understand! Cheers from Calgary, Alberta

    Reply
    1. Thanks Bess 🙂 I’m glad it helped. Was hoping I could break it down in a new way to show people!

      — Alex

      Reply
      1. This was great to read. I just started on the path of losing weight. I’ve noticed how much better I feel when eating real food. I feel much more full and satisfied and feel like doing more than if I inhaled a bunch of junk food. I never did like diets but eating real and healthy food as part of daily life makes perfect sense. I’ve started keeping track of my calories this week and it’s amazing to think about how much crap I was putting in my body and still never feeling satisfied. No wonder I always felt hungry! I would like to lose 30-35 lbs. Eating healthy/real food is my plan along with exercise.

        Reply
        1. Awesome DC 🙂 Keep us updated with your progress!

          Reply
  4. Great article and illustrations. This type of visual comparison exercise would be a very good one for anyone to do but I think in particular, would be effective (and fun) to do with kids.

    Reply
    1. Hey Sandee —

      Totally agree! In the future I hope I can come up with many more studies like this 🙂 They’re fun to do too – and leave a good mental image.

      — Alex

      Reply
  5. You forgot about the people that eat too much of a good thing! ( you know fruits,veggies, protines, ect)
    I personally hate too much junk food, but man, give me a plate of the good stuff and ill ask for another!

    Reply
    1. Haha Helen you are quite lucky then 😉 Keep eating the good stuff!

      Reply
  6. This is great. I’ve been doing the “Paleo” diet for a few months and I’ve lost a lot of weight. Of course, I haven’t been very religious about the diet and I’ve eaten more fruits than they recommend. But I have been eating just “real food” and no processed food or candies or anything like that, and it has worked great. I think the “just eat real food” diet is the way to go!

    Reply
    1. Hey Tom,

      Amen! I think people dramatically over complicate the “What to eat” part of the weight loss equation. Just eat real food.. all the way!

      Best,
      Alex

      Reply
  7. I like the “just eat real food” phrase a lot! However, what do you eat for breakfast that really fills you up? What are some good “real food” breakfast items? Thanks!
    Deb (Exton, PA)

    Reply
    1. Hi Deb!

      Breakfast is usually my hardest meal, so sometimes I “cheat.”

      Here’s what I ate today: 3 eggs on two pieces of toast, half an avocado, and then a little espresso :).

      Other than that, I don’t eat bread at all, but it’s tough in the morning!

      You can also add bacon or dairy if you eat dairy – that makes it an easy breakfast.

      — Alex

      Reply
      1. Porridge or oats are an easy and very nutritious breakfast. Also homemade muesli – oats, nuts seeds, fruit plus some natural yoghurt, Quick, easy , nutritious – yum!

        Reply
        1. no dumdum, carbs are bad for you amd there are lots od carbs in muesli, poorridge and and other nastiness like oats, gross, don’t eat that garbage fatty magoo!

          Reply
        2. no no fatty magoo, you nasty! gross fat people food like porridge and muesli and oats are full of carbs and disgusting for you! porridge sounds like “poor”. why? because poor people eat it and poor people are usually repulsively fat. oats are what horses eat. why? because fat people and horses eat them, fat people are no better than animals. don’t be a lil piggy, don’t eat carbs and mueslie and oats and other pggy pig foods.

          Reply
      2. In my case the best breakfast for me is either steel-cut oats cooked in milk and left to finish up cooking while they cool overnight (I’m warming them up b4 eating) OR overnight old fashioned oats made with grass-fed buttermilk, chia seeds and some blueberries. I don’t feel hungry for hours after breakfast like this and mysteriously on those days I have no cravings for anything sweet.

        Reply
  8. I always go to the fresh produce markets to purchase food. Anytime I feel hungry I always eat peppers, yams, chicken, wild salmon – especially eggs (more egg white)! I love eating this way, I just really do. And I love the slight journey to the local farms growing their own produce. But here and there, I find myself doing a bite or two of chips, or a couple of nibbles from my friend’s cereal. Those two are the real eye opener’s in the images above. Especially the cereal when crushed. I forget how tiny some food gets in the stomach. The side by side comparison is perfect. I don’t eat cereal pretty much ever but wow, it is so, so small of food to process. That would disappear in seconds! It’s like drinking orange juice with pulp by the time our stomach acidity hits it haha am I wrong?

    Reply
    1. Hi Winters,

      Haha I love going to the fresh markets too. It’s such a gratifying feeling seeing your own food actually grow, then harvest it, and eat it (if you have the good fortune to grow your own food).

      Hopefully this was a bit of an eye opener 🙂

      Best,
      Alex

      Reply
  9. I couldn’t agree with you more. I wish my husband would get it, maybe after ishow him this he will. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Hi Maria,

      Please pass it on and let me know what he thinks 🙂

      Best,
      Alex

      Reply
  10. I cook only food no junk food. How came I still put on weight? I have tried to lose weight but cannot.

    What do you suggest Alex?

    Reply
    1. Hi Sandy,

      There are potentially many factors involved — can you shoot me an email and we can talk more? Just so I don’t have to write one huge comment, and can email you that instead :). http://modernhealthmonk.com/contact/

      Best,
      Alex

      Reply
  11. Reading your blog really puts it in perspective for me Alex mate…
    I got out of the army about six months ago, and I remember taking one final photo of myself in the lines where my tummy was slim and my muscles were proportionate….and I looked at myself a few weeks ago and was disgusted at what I’d done to myself. I saw myself in a mirror one night and just couldn’t believe the hideous muffin top I’d grown. Just eating sh*t five times a week – KFC during the day and a block of chocolate at night – doing no cardio because I didn’t “need” to do it anymore. After stumbling across your blog it’s all put it in perspective for me…I was 84kgs before I started reading and now about two weeks later I’m 76kgs and feel great. Not even working hard. Just a dead slow jog for 30 minutes with my dog in the morning and a weight session now and then.
    Goes to show you all: it’s all a battle of wills. Avoid the plastic packaging and you’re halfway there.

    Reply
    1. Hey Matt,

      That’s awesome man, I’m glad to hear about your progress. “Avoid the plastic packaging and you’re halfway there.” 100% agree. That’s the biggest fight.

      Keep me updated on your progress !

      – Alex

      Reply
  12. I have tried everything and no results. I had to try something from me (experiment). I wanted to just feel good about me and slow down to 90 mph. So I looked at my basic life living (sleep, eating and exercise) and do the best I could. I had to do it as simple as possible. I appreciate it more than you know to tell me I am going in a right direction. My 1st quest was eating. I look at “real food” just like you have shown. The way I tried to do it was what is good and what is empty calories (not beneficial). I did not worry about buying or making thing special (no calories counting). I eat 5 meals a day. 1st meal balance meal but only eat half. 2nd meal is the other half. 3rd 1/2 and so on. I like what the good monk mention, staying full. That is the body enjoying, but I was saying I am not going to starve but have more later. As time has passed I adjusted how I prepare the meal. Like mayo to mustard. I have lost 40 lbs and it has been done just like the good monk said. I had no idea what I was doing but I had to do something. I do thank you for giving me the ok. I have 20 more pounds to lose. I have always had a weight problem and the other part that screwed things up was what will I eat and live when I reach my goal. I feel more comfort because I have changed a lot of “Bad Habits”. I through out my scales when I started.

    Reply
    1. That’s fantastic that you already lost 40 pounds! Wow! Keep going – focus on eating the right foods, start getting a little bit of movement and activity in, and you’ll lose those 20 pounds before you know it. I want to hear your success story when you do!

      – Alex

      Reply
  13. Hi Alex. How I cook my meals, no oil, no fats, no potatos, or another kind of carbs. Whats your suggestion about cheese anD fruit? I need urgente to loose 40 pounds, my age is 55 years, and i have big problems with my lower back and knees. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Hi Yoly,

      Cheese and fruit are okay.

      I would suggest eating fats. Eat oils. They are healthy. Fat does NOT make you fat (a big myth of the health industry).

      If you ask me, here’s the ideal meal: A big plate of veggies, 4 oz of protein (fish or chicken), and then olive oil. Eat like that and you will lose weight quickly, while being healthy in the long-run.

      Best,
      Alex

      Reply
  14. I have always known to eat protein because it keeps us full longer.I am 75 and was overweight until the age of 17. starved myself to lose and did.back then we didn’t know what to do.I kept the weight off until 40’s.I was eating so sparingly till my body hung on to weight.a week ago my doctor told me i was not eating enough food. I started to eat more and lost 10 pounds. smart doctor.he believed me when I said I was not eating enough. most doctors just look at me and say RIGHT!!!!!!

    Reply
  15. This is a great way to explain the point. We need to eat the right food. Quantity is not that important and everything will fall in place

    Reply
    1. I’m glad you liked it Shri!

      Reply
  16. I just wanted to ask that once I start to eat half the amount I use to eat (1000 calories). And eat green and when I lose weight and stable at a weight that is still a bit overweight for my age. Do I need to eat lesser calories or excesice more in order to lose more weight or continue with the same diet but will I lose it slowly… Main concern is will I lose it?

    Reply
    1. Hi there,

      You’re currently eating 1,000 calories a day, and asking if you should lower that intake even more?

      – Alex

      Reply
  17. How about doing this as a vegetarian? I do eat dairy and eggs, but no fish, meat or poultry. I find it hard to get enough protein. I once went on a supplemented high protein diet and lost a lot of weight, but gained most of it back? Any ideas?
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Hi Sue,

      What stopped you from doing high-protein on a vegetarian diet? The other thing is that if you’re vegetarian you should, um, technically be eating lots of veggies 🙂 I know lots of vegetarians that are more carb-itarians.

      Beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh are all good options. Do you have an aversion to any of those?

      Best,
      Alex

      If you focus truly on plant intake, you would likely lose a lot of weight too.

      Best,
      Alex

      Reply
  18. I am allergic to fish. What are my other options for getting the good stuff that fish offers?
    I am enjoying reading your articles. Thanks for posting.

    Reply
    1. Hi Brenda,

      If you’re talking about the omega fatty acids and such, you could always supplement with a fish oil supplement – or the actual liquid fish oil itself (if you can stomach it) :D.

      Best,
      Alex

      Reply
      1. Specifically, I was wondering about foods. Any other foods contain those things?

        Reply
        1. Walnuts have omegas and grass fed beef some eggs grass fed milk

          Reply
  19. Hi,

    I love what you have done here. I’m a primary school teacher in the UK. Would it be ok if I printed out the pictures to use in class? I think it will really make sense to the children in my class – 9-11yr olds.

    Thanks again

    Reply
    1. Hi MrsM – Go for it!

      -Alex

      Reply
  20. Great stuff! I was wondering what other carbs are ‘real foods’ apart from whole grains?

    Reply
    1. Hey Tracey,

      I focus on :

      Brown rice
      Quinoa
      Couscous

      Reply
  21. I tried eating real food for a week and I even gave up Coke and Pepsi. I think I lost like 4 pounds that week. I was doing it to sorta set an example for my mom. I was so happy and I had a lot of energy but I messed up. My family wanted to go get fast food and I came too. I didn’t want to eat that calorie filled crap and get re-addicted all over again…but it smelled so good and made me hungry :'( and I got re-addicted to fast food. I’m gonna try it all over again and I won’t eat fast food. I mean I’m not saying I’m giving up on crunchy Cheetohs. But I will try to do my best!

    Reply
    1. Awesome Tamara, please let me know how it goes :-). Just try to do it as best you can 4/5/6 days of the week. Or just one meal of the day. Or for example, just eat a home-cooked dinner once a week to start!

      Reply
  22. Hi Alex
    Came across your site earlier this week and cannot get enough of it!!! I am 53 and have 54 pounds to lose, target weight 11 stone (5ft 7″). I have been overweight for many years tried every single diet going and just as the saying goes – lost quite a few pounds only to put it back on and some!
    I have low back pain and starting to feel aches in my knees, but not for long;)
    Just finished my breakfast – a green juice full of veggies and two boiled eggs, I can’t tell you how full I feel.
    Thank you so much, keep up the fantastic work, will keep you posted on weight loss!

    Reply
    1. Awesome Angie :-). Let me know how it goes!

      Reply
  23. you might have addressed this already, but I wanted to know if you have any suggestions for those times when u are craving lollies (candy), or chocolate?

    Cheers
    J

    Reply
    1. Hi Joy !

      Here’s an old video I filmed on that exact subject: http://modernhealthmonk.com/sugar-cravings/

      Reply
  24. Dear Alex,
    Thank you for your article! I have recently started watching your youtube vids and learning alot! I have a question surrounding what is exactly “real food”? Is it anything you make yourself as opposed to eating in a resturant? Is bread “real food”? Are home-made desserts considered “real food”?

    Thank you,
    Dayana

    Reply
    1. Hi Dayana –

      Pretty much anything home made is real food, yes! Unless you’re cooking from a boxed meal. Yes, bread is real food too.

      Reply
  25. The best I ever felt was when I ate just real food, I’m not sure how I got off track. Time to get back on track.

    Reply
    1. 100% agree debbie!!

      Reply
  26. I really appreciate your clear message & direct honesty on just homemade & non processed food. I’ve started adding the 30 grams more of protein to curb binging & it’s been 3 days so far &Im not hungry between meals plus i feel satisfied. I did 2 years of wight watcher, weighed everything& gained it all back .
    I will continue your advice

    I gained all

    Reply
    1. Let me know how it goes for your Lizzie!

      Reply
  27. Couldn’t say it better – thank you so much! Those pictures are so easy to understand 🙂

    Reply
  28. Hi Alex, I first read your article on runners knee and found it rather refreshing, I am on day 3 of trying it as the physio gave me a mere 5 stretches 2 x per day to fix my knee???!!!! no strengthening work at all?!!!!! im not only confused as your approach makes much more sense to strengthen the weakened area to help enable the joint. But in reality fed up with having my time wasted waiting for injuries to worsen by physios that clearly don’t know how to aid the knee. I have read all the list of questions and answers above and I have a little question here myself about potatoes and pickles, I have been 8st 4 for over 10 ten years and worked as a Personal trainer, so I should know better. but my confidence was knocked when I had to have a full lateral release and knee cap shave from years of running. The doctor and surgeon both said it was basically misuse of the body ( totally opposite to what I have learned over the years?) however I started to put on weight because I was scared to run and after the first knee op was very restricted, the doctor said my running days were over and I was not having any of that. so I learned to neutral run and did the great south run in 90 minutes after 6 months of training how to run safer! after another year I am back in the same boat but with the other knee and no longer personal train as I don’t want to be a hypocrite to my clientele. I am now 9 stone 11 and very unhappy and annoyed that I should know better. mainly I keep the food as near to nature as possible, however potatoes are a root vegetable and I have never shied away from them as I find sweet potatoes too sweet to eat! although potatoes are high in GI can be lowered by protein food, yes? or am I taking it too deep thinking about GI as Potatoes go against the grain when it comes to vegetables. also are pickles ok to eat to spice up salads please , how come mustard is ok and not mayo as its man made, apart from the obvious calorie content and fat used? I cant eat chicken and veg everyday!!!! sorry if this is me just overcomplicating things and over thinking!

    Reply
    1. Hi Jen –

      You might want to try swapping out the potato for brown rice instead – potato is pretty high GI. And pickles/spices, etc are fine. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  29. Hi Alex, I was so amazed by everything you had to say about weight loss. And OMG ! the comparison part real food Versus Junk Food. I Laughed so hard, because you are 100% Right. This is what we have done for too long. I would always be over whelmed by all the things these fitness GURU’s. You Gave me a new perspective in this short amount of time. When I go shopping for real food, On the Right of my minds eye there will be Junk Food, and the Left Always Real Food. It’s like I will have this Imaginary Chart and will always see Real Food Verses Junk Food. You are a very Smart Man to be able to See it this way and I am so sorry I didn’t find you sooner than I did. It’s not Complicated I get what you are saying, and I expect to have maybe 2-3 LBS. gone from my waist. I am so Excited to get Started. Thank you for Sharing All your Knowledge with all of us. I will Let you know how we are doing. I will Keep reading and Listening to what you say. Oh I so Love your Personality and Since of Humor. Cordially, Linda.

    Reply
    1. Hahah, I’m glad it helped Linda! You’re welcome, and let me know if you have any questions.

      Reply
  30. Love the whole idea of placing the food side by side for comparison 🙂

    Reply
    1. Hope it helps SF 🙂

      Reply
  31. So true! And thanks for reminding me what my grandma use to say. Keep sending the emails!!!

    Reply
    1. You’re welcome Karen 🙂

      Reply
  32. Have you gained 40lb since this article alex or are you still a healthy hunk?

    Reply
    1. Hey Alan –

      I’m around ~175 lbs now. My final goal (ideal) weight is around 190.

      Reply
  33. Okay Alex, I’m listening and liking what I hear. I’ll be coming back for more because I’d like to feel better and be more active. With a new home, new garden, and a new car (old car as gift) I should be able to work with you and make my 78 year old (seems much younger) body get up and dance. Thank you…You seem like an amazing being.

    Reply
    1. You’re very welcome Kay 🙂 Happy to help!

      Reply
  34. I grew up eating organically and have had an eating disorder for 11 years so this isnt news to me HOWEVER it is such a nice reminder of how simple it really is! I’ve been caught up with calorie counting so many times and stressing if ive aten too much but at the end of the day if your eating good real food then you should relax and enjoy your life. THANK YOU, I really enjoyed this article and the reminder was just what I needed 🙂

    Reply
    1. You’re welcome Juju 🙂

      Reply
  35. Thanks for showing us about this useful information. Actually nowdays, in my country (Vietnam) the new generation like fast food, candy, snack,… They are lazy to cook for themselves, I thought I was one of them, but one day I realized that my health may fail and that also made my spirit weak, that affected me so deeply. Then I decided to cook for myself to get the healthy life.

    Reply
    1. Aline – it’s definitely going to take a change in habits, but it doesn’t require as much time as people think!

      Reply
  36. Very interesting comparisons….I feel like a double jerk for munching on cheese Doritos (no lie!) before I read your article :/ because I know I will be hungry again very soon due to the lousy fuel I just inhaled. Thanks for giving me something to give serious thought and rethink my comfort food habits.

    Reply
    1. Hah, it happens Denise 🙂 No point in beating yourself up.

      Reply
  37. Volumetrics – Dr. Barbara Rolls invented it years ago.
    It works. And if you want to feel great, stick with whole foods, preferably the organic plant-based variety.

    Reply
    1. Love it Diane! I will definitely check it out.

      Reply
  38. Fully agree. It’s difficult to over-eat when consuming fresh food.

    Reply
  39. Great stuff Alex. Was looking for something else while doing research for a blog post, but I had to stop and check this out. Thanks for putting the work in and getting this information out there. I love your philosophy of keeping it simple, as I am definitely in the same camp!

    Reply
    1. Thanks Jordan – glad it helped.

      Reply
  40. Thank you for the experiment.

    Reply
    1. Glad you found it interesting Marlee!

      Reply
  41. Thank u so much for this…..I have been struggling for years trying to lose weight. I have tried several diets and methods and barely lost a pound. This article is very helpful and I’m grateful for it. Well done.

    Reply
    1. Happy to help 🙂

      Reply
  42. I think this is a GREAT way to show the breakdown of foods and it really brings into perspective how many calories a typical person eats. The only thing I partially disagree with is that calorie counting is not a sufficient diet that works. I can agree that it may not work because most would not follow the diet as they should. BUT there are people, like myself, who log religiously using My Fitness Pal, follow the prescribed amount of allowed calories, and lose weight! My first month of logging I lost 14 pounds and I hated the whole process A LOT and felt like I was not a normal person A LOT, but the benefit is outweighing the cons. Either way, no matter the “diet”, being healthy feels AMAZING and some people can be more dedicated than others 🙂

    Reply
    1. Totally agree with you Meagan! Ultimately, do whatever works best 🙂 If you find that logging works best, keep it up!

      Reply
  43. I am addicted to snacking and I can not snack with fresh vegies. Unfortunately my brain as a snack accepts only unnatural sweet or salty food (candy, cookies, cakes, chips etc). I know what would be the best dinner option, but sometimes (a lot) my brain just switches off when I need to make my choice between pepper and oreos.. Sad!

    Reply
  44. Hi I don’t see you talk much about dairy as a real food item. And I like coffee and tea as beverages but need to add sugar to enjoy or always have something sweet with it. I tried to keep the sweet item to a biscotti or something under 120 calories. It just a habit of how I grew up. British West Indies for tea time.

    Reply
    1. Hi Michelle,

      Generally dairy is fine for most people trying to lose weight, but lots of my students and clients also have digestive problems so (if that’s the case), I have them avoid it.

      Reply
  45. Hei Alexander
    I guess these are old posts but after reading what you wrote,it really opened my eyes to what my problems really are. I love to eat and being a food lover that I am,my body bore the brunt of it. I have parotitis and recently had a parotidectomy last week. I also have painful tmj. Makes me cry all the time. And the worst of it all..I am very heavy, 40.1 obese and 101 kilos. I need to lose weight before my heart gives out. Im married to a great loving husband with 4 kids, I do want to live longer,see them grow up and have families of their own. Please help..thank you so much..

    Reply
    1. Hi Malai,

      I’m sorry to hear about that – can you send me an email and we can talk a bit more?

      -Alex

      Reply
  46. I feel like I’ve taken the red pill (from Matrix) and reality just hit me while reading your experiment. I look forward to reading and learning.

    Send you a warm hug!

    Reply
    1. Glad you found it helpful Claudia!

      Reply
  47. Was this 3 yrs ago? I do agree we homo sapiens overcomplicate things in lots of areas including health and eating as well as relationships. Natural, real food is mixed or sold with processed food which is laced with too much sugar or salt for taste as well as other inferior compounds and they can be harmful not meeting the nutritional or whatever need of our bodies and the cells of our body. Most natural locally produced food via plants & animals from healthy soil, will ensure our health all things being equal. We still have to show restraint and common sense and balance all the other aspects that properly feed our mind and spirit including our body for optimal results. Once our mindset and habits are formed it is harder to change our brains, tastes and preferences. It can be done but it is more difficult. No matter how you phrase it and use various words, it comes to doing and following particular practices and using certain materials or foods and incorporating them into our lifestyle. You can use ‘will power’ or ‘discipline’ to get to that point, it really doesn’t matter, the bottom line is following and DOING what amounts to following the correct principles or laws of healthy living. Shalom.

    Reply
    1. True that, agree!

      Reply
      1. Hi Alexander, thanks for highlighting some basics. I believe all the talk about different diets and exercise programs can be greatly simplified IF people would only DO certain things daily like be active, eat whole foods, not too much, occasionally fast and just get on with enhancing the quality of life for others, caring, sharing, saving, giving and serving one another. Our well-being is immersed with others, with the environment/earth we are part of and most of all, God, who is the author of life, past, present and future. Get those 3 basic relationships wrong and we have problems and complications.

        Reply
  48. I recognize how old this post is, but it’s a good article and you make perfect sense, except… WTF is ‘real food’? You use that term like 30 times without ever actually explaining what you constitute as real, and what isn’t.

    Reply
    1. Haha, sorry Jeff. Here are some ideas: http://modernhealthmonk.com/which-diet-is-the-healthiest/

      Reply
  49. I was searching the internet several months ago for weight loss motivation. I found your videos and signed up for email notifications but I lost interest due to my own issues. So coming back again and ready to listen I really am amazed. I bought your book and can’t believe it was only $9.99 on Kindle. It’s worth so much more to me and I’m only about a third of the way through. It’s full of such valuable concepts. Today I have my healthy habits on my sticky note and have visualized my day ahead. This is so POWERFUL! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. You rock Stephanie! Can’t wait to hear your feedback once you finish it 🙂

      Reply
  50. Alex,
    You are a voice of reason. I am hopeful that the work you are doing will flourish and reach the masses. Thanks!
    Joe

    Reply
  51. So ok, I understand and agree with what you say but what about when you do go to parties, it is almost IMPOSIBLE to not eat junk food. I can hardly ever resist temptation. Haha So what should you do in these cases? Can you skip the rule every now and then? How often is every now and then? Is there any junk food that is less toxic than others? I don’t know, do you?. I really like eating black chocolate for example and a lot of people tell me that black chocolate is good for dieting. But every time you go and buy black chocolate they come in really big bars and big squares and how do you measure a serving? I think it’s too complicated so I eat it all haha kidding. But I do eat a whole square and sometimes a bit more. So is there any easy way to know how much and how often can you eat junk food?

    Reply
    1. The only way to know for sure is to track it 🙂

      Reply
  52. Definitely agree with you that real foods are best for health, but short-term at least, the 495 calorie dish you prepared is one I could easily finish (and then feel uncomfortable for the rest of the day while also strangely, mentally hungry), while 9.5 Oreos leaves me stuffed but not in that weirdly full way. This may be partly psychological (and of course I need less food anyway since I’m only 5’1″ and also underweight), but I like and eat a lot of sweets because they feel easier to digest, and I have a lot more energy and cycle faster (again, I’m sure long-term it’s killing me). It’s a sort of trap being this sharply attuned to my fullness and hunger cues (purely on a physical, stomach-filling level), but I’ve never eaten mindlessly either.
    For most people who are trying to lose weight, the visuals are very helpful though 🙂

    Reply
  53. I like it! I am going to be watching your videos on YouTube while I’m excercising

    Reply
  54. Honestly, I am so glad I came across this article. I believe that food is not meant be complicated and that by eating real food, things will work themselves out. Right now I am trying an experiment of my own. I am attempting to build lots of muscle while losing fat, something many experts say is impossible or extremely difficult. I am eating in a surplus (eyeballing , not counting), but doing so with REAL food (and obvs with an emphasis on protein and majority of carbs around workouts, rest of the day high fat). I firmly believe mother nature will balance things out, do her thing. 🙂

    Reply
  55. Hey Alex!

    So I’m trying to understand the takeaway point in terms of wanting to gain weight. Is it that when eating real food I should just continue to eat despite feeling full? I’m 5’11 and weigh 155lbs. I would like to weight around 175lbs maybe 180lbs. I’ve never cooked but want to start and need an easy starting point. Does your book address issues for people trying to gain weight? I want a resource that would collect the biggest bang for my buck foods that would help me gain weight. Without getting diabetes on the way.

    Thanks

    Reply
  56. You’re right. When I was living with my mom, I was eating healthy food and nothing junk. I never had to worry about my weight then and had no chronic disease. But now as m living alone for more than 5yrs and eating junk as who has the time to prepare a meal fast, m overweight and have Hashimoto’s. 😢

    Reply
  57. You still have my attention.

    Reply

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