How To Get The Best Results With The Least Efforts
I am sure that by now, you’ve probably heard about the Pareto’s rule (the 80/20 rule). This rule shows us that 20% of our efforts produce 80% of our results and vice versa (80% of our efforts produce 20% of results).
So it makes a lot of sense to focus on the 20% of our efforts that produce 80% of results if we’d like to keep reaching great results and free some time and space for new things in our life.
I applied this rule in many areas of my life so far because I LOVE achieving great results with the least effort and time possible. And I bet you too, right?
I have to say that in the professional area, for my work, it’s pretty easy to figure that out because you can observe the impact straight away. This is something you can measure easily.
However, I found it way tricker to apply that to my health. Even though I could easily say that I experimented my entire life in this area, it often takes much longer to see the impact of a certain food, supplement or habit. Our body needs time to adjust and there are often more than one variable that comes into play.
The good thing is that today I can already see a pretty obvious pattern. After implementing and trying different things and workouts over the past years, I’ve managed to draw some conclusions. And one thing I really like is that the more I read on the topic, the more I see this is backed up by the latest scientific researches.
If you still think that in order to reach your optimal health, you have to eat low calorie salads for lunch and dinner + spend hours on the treadmill, I am sorry to tell you that this is a very outdated (and false) belief.
Don’t get me wrong, I spent years of my life thinking so. Restricting calorie intake, and forcing myself to go running (I HATE running!) because… this is what you have to do, right? This is what healthy people do, don’t they?
So, this is with an immense pleasure that I now promise you that this kind of beliefs is actually WRONG!
Well, of course, running for 30 minutes is still better than staying on your couch but if you want to get the best results possible with the least efforts and time possible here is how it works…
The fact is that you need calories in order to function properly but not all calories are created equal. You also need ALL the food groups in order to reach your optimal health but once again, the quality is crucial.
1,000 calories from McDonalds, for example, won’t produce the same results than 1,000 calories from organic whole, nutritious foods.
Does that mean you’ll become obese if you have one piece of cake for your mom’s birthday? Absolutely not!
So, what works you’re probably wondering?
Here is what I’ve concluded over the years and what I apply in my daily life – which’s also backed up by research…
1. Stop restricting or counting calories
When you restrict your food intake, your brain gets the signal that there is a lack of food storage, which is totally fine… if it happens for very short periods of time.
When you restrict your food intake or deprive yourself from food for 78 hours or more, your body and brain enter what we call “starvation mode”, which is exactly what happens when you follow a strict diet or reduce calories.
Your metabolism will decrease, you’ll be more alert and you’ll start to focus more and more on food. You might actually lose weight at first, but we are not designed to thrive in this “starvation mode”. Soon enough your whole body will push you to eat to get back to its normal state and this is when you’ll end up binging on crappy foods. This is also why diets don’t work and why 98% of people losing weight on a diet will put all that weight back on (if not more).
The most important when it comes to optimal health is not the quantity but the quality. Instead of restricting and/or counting calories, shift your focus to what you’re actually feeding your body. The quality is more important than the quantity.
That also means that you don’t need to eat plenty of little meals throughout the day. You just have to eat enough over a 3-day period to avoid starvation mode.
2. Eat good quality proteins and complex carbs (= that haven’t been processed, organic when possible) + avoid sugar
I know people can get amazing weight loss results when going on a low carb diet but is this sustainable? I don’t think so.
You also have to look at the type of carbs those people were eating in the first place (my guess is a lot of crappy refined carbs – so of course they lose weight when they stop eating them).
Regarding the proteins, it is crucial to have enough good quality proteins into your diet! I am talking especially to you vegans and vegetarians. If you don’t have enough complete proteins daily, you’ll end up getting crazy sugar cravings.
Quinoa and chia seeds are 2 non animal complete proteins. For the rest (beans, lentils, etc… you’ll have to combine them with something in order to get all amino acids that create a complete protein – such as rice for example). And yes, that’s why Mexican food is mostly beans + rice.
Regarding animal proteins, always look at the quality: you need organic, grass fed, pasture, wild, etc. It’s much better to eat grass fed beef than farmed salmon for example. Farmed salmon (over 80% of what you find in shops, restaurants, etc) are fed with GMO corn and soy, making farmed salmon one of the most toxic food on the planet!
Is it possible to get too much proteins? Absolutely! And you don’t want to abuse them.
For optimal health, always look at getting about 2 to 2.4 grams of proteins per kilo of body weight. So if you’re weighting 60 kilos, you need 120 to 144 grams of proteins per day.
Good complex carbs (quinoa, millet, red rice, buckwheat, kamut, etc) at every meal is also essential but refined sugar on the opposite should be avoided…
3. Avoid (or reduce) inflammatory foods
Inflammation has been shown to be the cause of MANY chronic diseases. The more I research about that, the more I believe that it causes way more than diabetes, skin issues, cancer or obesity. I actually start to believe that it may be the cause of not only eating disorders but also depression, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and adrenal fatigue.
That could definitely be explained in much more detail in a future post so to get to the point, I would say that having an anti-inflammatory diet at least 80% of the time would be optimal.
That means avoiding sugar, refined carbs, refined salt (table salt), all fats that are not raw and first cold pressed, processed foods and alcohol.
4. Stop exercising too much
Yes, you read it correctly! I don’t mean stop exercising though. But like everything in life, exaggerating is never a good idea.
Exercise is really important in order to be healthy and keep improving your health but more is not always better. When clients tell me that they go to the gym several hours per day… I am like “OMG! why are you doing that to yourself!?” and also “how do you find all that time!?”
Well it turns out that not only more is not better but it’s actually counter productive.
Do you know why marathon runners are called “skinny fat”? Because they are indeed very skinny but are left with fat (and not much muscles). Because long hours of cardio actually break down muscle tissues and thus, decrease your total muscle mass, which is NOT what we want if we want to be fit and toned.
We want to be fit, toned and strong, right? Of course we want!
Because muscle mass will not only help us be fit with a beautifully designed body but will also consume the most calories and energy. So basically the higher your muscle mass, the more you’ll need to eat and the easier it will be to lose fat.
Many pre and post pregnancy issues arise just because women are not toned enough to support their baby’s weight. Muscle mass also regulates our hormones and thus insuline levels, protecting us from issues such as diabetes (and gestational diabetes). It will also be easier to get back to a normal and healthy posture post-pregnancy and avoid some potential nightmares such as back, knee and / or neck problems, just to name a few…
So, I guess you’ve understood by now: building muscle mass is key, even if we are not a body builder on steroids
So what should you do?
I am not a personal trainer, so it’s not my role to explain you what to do but what I found worked best for me is high intensity interval training.
If you want to get great results, the best is to do about 30 minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT) 3 times per week.
It’s important to build your training over time as it’s indeed “intense”. It’s also important to rest every second day – and not to train every single day, as your body and metabolism need time to recover.
For the rest, you just have to google it
On my side, I found that I love adding a couple of yoga classes per week and heaps of stretch sessions in order to stay flexible.
Don’t forget that this kind of exercise put stress on your body. You’ll see that HIIT and strength building sessions only will not bring you balance on the long term. This is why I recommend to add some Yin to your Yang training