Can’t seem to lose weight?

The Thinker - English: This is an image of Kyle David Kipp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you big boned and can’t seem to lose weight? Or maybe you can lose weight easily enough, but  once you’ve lost it, you are unable to keep it off?

In the last post, we talked about being big boned, and how your skeleton is a poor indicator of your body composition (your femur, on the other hand…)

In this post, we’ll be discussing how your mental self-image can be a powerful ally (or enemy) when it comes to sustained fat loss.

If you were to search the Interwebs for “fat loss” and “visualization”, you’d get a ton of hits. All of which contain some version of “think yourself skinny” as their tagline. That’s not what  this post is about.

Think of yourself as big…

There is a valid point they do make – maybe not the one they intend to make, exactly;

If you are unable to see yourself as a being anything other than a fat person, you are a lot less likely to make the decisions and choices that will help you change that reality.

It’s a bit like the old “if you don’t like yourself, how can you expect anybody else to like you?”

Which is really harsh. And horrible. And not something we should dwell on at all.

Moving on.

The real point is that if you “see” an outcome in your minds eye, you are far more likely to achieve it.

This ties back to the problem with accepting that “you’re just big boned”.

Being “big boned” is not something you can change…

You’ve decided to fail at weight loss

See the problem with accepting the (not real) “reality” that you’re big boned?

You just gave yourself permission to fail at every weight loss / fat loss / exercise plan you’ll ever start.

That seems like a very productive place to be, does it?

What if, the next time you think of yourself as “big boned”, or any other negative self-image, you do this instead…

Look at yourself in the mirror and find ONE thing about your body that you like or are proud of. Then think about that one thing for a second.

Let that be your one small, tiny, teeny, thing you for today. The ONE thing you do to start changing your perspective and get ready to be successful at your next fat loss program.

Big boned: a myth or a real condition?

“Honey, you’re just big boned”

It’s one of the more common statements you’re likely to hear if you’re a somewhat tall, maybe slightly heavy-set male or female:

No, you’re absolutely not fat. You’re just big boned!

According to information from the US National Library of Medicine (by the National Institutes for Health),  the frame size of the human body does differ between people. As a result, there is such a thing as being “large”, “medium”, or “small” boned. If you’re curious, you can easily figure out your own frame size category. Just grab a measuring tape, and measure your own height, then your wrist circumference.

The frame size is dependent on your height, and the table at the other end of the above link (repeated below), will help you determine whether your essence is housed in a small, medium, or large body-frame.

 Body-frame size

Height: Women Small Medium Large
< 5′ 2″  Wrist: < 5.5″  Wrist: 5.5″ to 5.75″  Wrist: > 5.75″
5′ 2″ to 5′ 5″  Wrist: < 6″  Wrist: 6″ – 6.25″  Wrist: > 6.25″
> 5′ 5″  Wrist: < 6.25″  Wrist: 6.25″ – 6.5″  Wrist: > 6.5″
Height: Men
> 5′ 5″ Wrist: 5.5″ – 6.5″  Wrist: 6.5″ – 7.5″  Wrist: > 7.5

A bit o’ bad news

With one exception, the size of your bones do not appear to have much to do with what the scale shows. The exception?

Your femur (thigh bone).

Being big boned - fact vs fiction
The human femur – From Wikipedia

The scientific study “The Effect of Weight on the Femur: A Cross-Sectional Analysis” (by Gina M. Agostini, et all), published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences in March of 2011, found a correlation between obesity and the shape of the human femur.

The study summary in plain english:

If you’re a caucasian male, the weight and density of your thigh bone will, after you’re dead, with a near 80% degree of certainty, indicate whether you were obese or not while alive.

But that’s the only bone in the body they have found to have anything to do with what your BMI, and thus the weight on the scale, is.

So, unfortunately, there’s no relationship between being “big boned” – i.e. your wrist measurement relative to your height – and “being big”.

About you

Have you ever been told you’re “big boned”?

Has it affected you in any way?

Would you be surprised to learn that thinking of yourself as “big boned” could be why you find yourself to struggling with losing weight?

Whole food recipe page available

Looking for healthy, whole food based recipes? Just try something first. Go find a recipe online, or go old-school and grab a recipe book. There’s a good chance the recipe is not as healthy for you as it could and should be.

The problem is that a large number of recipes include some ingredient that is ready made or over-processed.

You’ll often find the ingredient list including things like ready-made Campbell’s soup. If you’re baking something, a milled and bleached white flour is “required”.

Most of the recipes you’ll find contain few of the typical “whole food” ingredients. Sorry, won't be part of our healthy food recipes

What are whole food ingredients?

Most of us are familiar with the taste of processed ingredients and foods.

These ingredients and foods contain long lists of “stuff” on the nutrition label. They often feature sugar and sugar derivatives, saturated fats and salt early in the “contains” list on the nutrition label. And for some reason that we, the average Jane & Joe can’t quite explain, we’re almost feeling like we’re addicted to them. It’s almost as if they made the food to “trick” our palate into loving it.

Because of this, a lot of us struggle with the taste of whole foods at first.

They taste a little different.

Not in a bad way, they just don’t taste the same as the processed foods do. Takes a little getting used to.

The thing about “whole foods” is that the ingredients are simple.

First of all, you won’t find a “whole food” that contains salt, sugar and fat, all at once (unlike those Doritos you may have in your cupboard).

Second of all, the whole food ingredients are ingredients where you can recognize the food itself.

Fruits, vegetables, meats, unprocessed or minimally processed grains and dairy.

These are “ingredients”. You can recognize what they are made of. The rule for processed vs. whole foods?

Processed foods have ingredients. Whole foods are ingredients.

Free access to our recipes

There are loads of recipes out there. We know. But we’ve been getting questions from clients and friends about what we eat and how we make it. So we figured, rather than going at it one recipe and one person at a time, we’d put it all “out there”. Yes, true. We have put the recipes under our “membership pages”.

They are free. We will not charge money for them.

Listen, we love the food we make based on these, don’t get us wrong. But even the Web Monkey isn’t so delusional as to think our recipes are so special or great that we should charge for them.

On the other hand, we’d like to understand how and if you’re using these whole food recipes.

That’s why we’re asking you to “sign up” for our free membership level (and give us your email address as “payment”).

We really, really hate spam! We will not sell your email address or information to anybody (nor will we give it away for free).

We will only add you to our distribution list, unless you’re already on it. But we only use that to send out notices if we add something to our blog or to our service repertoire.

So in order to get access to our recipes, make sure to click the confirmation link so we know that you actually want to get access and join our distribution list. It’s included in the confirmation message from Christine ([email protected]).

Link to our Healthy Food Recipes

Ready for Huntin' Season?

Active Recovery Week: Selfie Huntin'
Photo: Susanne Nilsson, Taking a selfie (CC)

The mission

With the previously announced “Active Recovery Week” upon us, we figured we’d help you get out-and-about. 

Each day we will be posting a photo taken on a recreational trail in the greater Manchester (NH) area to our Facebook page.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to hunt down where the photo was taken, then take a selfie and post your selfie as a reply to our post on the Strong CUBED Fitness FB page (make sure you “Like” our page if you haven’t already). 

Each Active Recovery (AC) outing will be worth points. We will provide clues, some really blatant ones and some (we hope) head scratchers. 

There be prizes?

Any current member of Strong CUBED Fitness who accumulates over 50 points during this week (June 12th until June 19th) will be entered in a drawing to win a “fabulous prize” (from Norway, maybe, possibly, or not…) We hope you like pickled herring, pewter, brown goats cheese, trolls, etc. Could be any of the items listed, or none of them. So, yes. There may be one (1) prize.

Plus, the fun of getting outside and using the “skills” you’ve been building over the winter has its own rewards, right?!? The first recreation trail photo hunt will be posted to our Facebook page on Thursday June 12. Get your sunscreen and bug spray ready (and hopefully not your umbrella & lightning kite).

Wabbit season … Duck season!

If your schedule won’t allow you participate in the recreation trail selfie portion, i.e. the photo hunt, there will be an alternate time-based option for you to walk, bike, or swim so you too can earn points. (Wouldn’t want you to miss out on earning your 50+ points and enter the drawing for a “super awesome” Norwegian – or not – prize!)

Top 5: Reasons Why Diets Fail

It's simple: Diets don't work

You have probably spent money and/or tried one of the many diets available. Be honest…! We all have. Whether it’s the Zone Diet, The Atkins Diet, Weight Watchers, a “Plant Based” diet, the Paleo Diet, the Blood Type Diet, the Metabolic Diet or any other of the many diets (fads) that have flashed across the magazine rack in January. Or been on TV because of some “miracle result” (followed – in the past – by the ever present “results not typical” disclaimer).

Most of them deliver short-term results.

Sometimes, for some people, those results can even be impressive.

For a while…

Then, for some reason, the weight you lost almost inevitably creeps back on.

And in many cases, you wind up gaining more back than what you lost in the first place.

Wait, What?!?

There can be a number of reasons, but before we dive into some of the specifics, realize one key fact:

If this happened to you, you are not alone. And the statistics are certainly stacked against you, either way;

Only about 40% of the people who start a diet will complete it.

Between 80 – 95% of people who experience significant weight loss fail to maintain it past 2 years

So, only about 60% the people who go on a diet will actually complete the program, and out of those 60%, at most 17% are at the same weight as they were when they ended the program. For you non-mathematicians out there, that means there’s less than a 10% chance you will be able to sustain any weight loss from a diet plan.

The higher the weight loss is, the lower that probability becomes.

Typically, the average dieter will not only regain the weight they lost, but actually add more weight to their bodies afterwards…

And about here, you may well be thinking; “Well, what’s the point?”

There is no point in going on a diet.


  • You’re a glutton for punishment
  • You enjoy starving and depriving yourself for weeks on end.
  • Eating cabbage soup is your idea of a great culinary experience
  • The “cleansing headache” is fun
  • You have a burning desire to eat broccoli and grilled chicken breast
  • You love measuring your food on a scale
  • You have a big purse, and the food scale doesn’t take up that much space

And lastly, just thinking of doing all of the above – every meal, every day – for the rest of your life gives you goose-bumps of excitement

That ain’t your idea of “a good time”?

Didn’t think so…

Top 5 reasons diets fail

1. It doesn’t prepare you for life after the diet

No matter how old you are right now, the chances you’re going to continue eating whatever way the diet prescribed, for the rest of your life are probably somewhere between slim and none.

Pick any fat loss contest out there. Be it The Biggest Loser™ types of contests, or any other version of a fat loss / weight loss contest. While you’re in the throes of the contest, you’re probably doing pretty well. (We will ignore the studies that show only about 30% of people who start on a fat loss program will complete it…). You’re going to regular meetings (follow-up visits/calls/emails/etc). Then, the 30 days are up and the winner is announced.

Maybe you’re one of the winners?

Congratulations! Well done!

I bet you’re happy as a clam with the results and probably even gave a testimonial.

Then what happens…?


More likely than not, you go back to your old way of eating. It’s an “established fact” that for people to change a habit, they need as much as 12 weeks of doing the new “habit”.

And I can speak from experience when I tell you that it takes a whole lot less than that to revert to the old habits!

Maybe you ate like a champ for 30 days. Perhaps even 90 days? (Well done by the contest designer!)

But when you’re back to being on your own again? What happens when the meal plan runs out?

You go back to your old habits.

And so does your waistline…

2. The meal plan is too restrictive

Almost anybody in the healthy fitness industry could come up with a dietary plan to help you lose weight, and you would probably lose weight quickly – In essence the meal plan will consist of the following for each meal: lean protein and vegetables. No grain).

Here’s the rub with “the meal plan”; It demands compliance, at least 80-90% of the time. There are probably regular follow-ups, the whole program lasts for a certain number of days or weeks. Then it ends. The really disciplined amongst you will probably recycle the meal plan once, twice or more. Without the follow-ups, obviously.

But I can almost guarantee within 6 months of receiving your meal plan, none of you will be eating exactly as the meal plan prescribed.

And with that, you’re back in the cycle.

The weight you lost? It creeps back on. One pound at a time. Inevitably. Until you’ve joined your fellow 83-95 percenters.

3. You’re too focused on short-term gain

You’re on whatever diets to help you lose weight, fast. Get results. Now!

But the thing is, the benefits you receive from the change you sought (fat loss) isn’t a short-term benefit. The results of losing fat and getting healthy is something that will – probably – be with you for decades.

So if you go on a crash-course in dieting, lose lots of weight in 30 days, but one year later – when it’s all back, and brought a few friends along for good measure, what was the real value of the – pick any – diets?

You “spent 30 days in hell”, “suffered for the results”. You “pushed through”.

For what?

You have to be able to maintain the weight loss for years to come – quite probably for decades – so why would a program that is over, finished, in 30 days or less be a real solution?

It may be what you want, but it’s probably not what you (and your body) needs.

4. You didn’t actually learn anything

No, I know. That’s not why you started any of these diets! To learn something?!?

You didn’t join Weight Watchers to learn how to eat well and live a healthy life. You joined to lose weight. To get rid of fat.

And they’ve got a really simple system.

Foods are assigned points and you get a certain quota. In the past, the system was – truthfully – really bad, since the essence was that a point was a point. Just stay under your quota and you’ll be all set. Since then the program has evolved, and now they do promote better foods (i.e. better-for-you-foods have more appropriate point values as compared to the not-good-for-you-foods). But depending on the program, you’re still not  encouraged to learn much, if anything, about why that is.

But “Why” is probably the most important word in your life and change. If you understand the “why”, you have a much better opportunity to actually comprehend. And comprehension is the foundation for change.

If you would like to understand why you eat the way you do, sign up for the Bit Better Coaching pre-sale list.

5. “You’re not motivated enough”

There’s a belief that “anybody can be incentivised to change”.

I call Bravo Sierra! (at least if we’re talking permanent change).

In my world, there are fundamentally only two things that motivate people to make long-term changes.  Which honestly boils down to “there can be only one” incentive, fear:

  • You have a reward/carrot big enough to make the pain of change worth it (Fear of not getting the reward)
  • Something happened to make you too scared to NOT change. (flat out: Fear)

But the truth is that fear is a lousy reason to lose weight.

If fear is the driving force to go on a diet, you’re almost guaranteed to fail. Maybe it’s the upcoming bikini season, the recognition that if they don’t lose weight, they may live a shorter life, the latest study showing that overweight people experience more health problems and they’ve felt the first twinges of chronic health deterioration.

Knowledge bomb; Cancer patients skip taking life-saving cancer pills

So if people with cancer skip taking something as simple as a pill that can – literally – save their life, how can your fear of getting fat measure up?

It probably can’t…

Thing is, fear isn’t a lasting feeling.

Most of us “get used to it”, eventually. And “Wh00mp! There it is“; the reason for “eating well and exercising” has just left the building. (Get ready to welcome those pounds back! Again…).

I give up!

Having spent 8 years being 55 pounds lighter than when I started this journey, please realize that my point isn’t to discourage you from trying to lose weight.

Far from it.

Fat loss is something most of us could reap significant benefits from. Both short-term and long-term.

My point is this: Getting lean and healthy is a journey. It is not a quick, short-term project that you can start and end. It’s an ongoing choice to change.

Diets are all “short-term projects”, and there is ample data out there to show that those short-term diets simply do not work when it comes to creating a sustained body-composition change. “Motivation” has nothing to do with it.

You have to:

Changing your nutrition.

Change your activities.

Change your mindset.

Truth is, change is uncomfortable. Sustained change is even more so since it lasts longer (for the rest of your life, ideally). But that is what you’re facing when we talk about sustained weight loss/body composition change; Changing “everything”.

Can we all agree that a month long diet is a lousy tool to help you achieve that level of sustained change…?

Time to try something different!

If you’re a woman, click here.

If you’re a man, well then click here.

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You're putting your body at risk without enough training and recovery

If you come to our studio, you may have heard us discuss training and recovery for long distance running, like a marathon or half-marathon. I stumbled across the following Infographic from this morning and it pretty succinctly highlights the key benefits to targeted long-distance training and why not training and not letting your body recover enough between races is a really bad idea.

Benefits of sports specific training & recovery:

  • You’re teaching your body to manage heat & electrolytes
  • Improved blood vessel capacity (Your body grows more capillaries to help fuel & clean the body more efficiently)
  • Skeleton: Stronger bones to handle the stress of pounding the road
  • Heart: Higher blood volume per beat = more effective exchange of nutrients & oxygen
  • Brain: Improving involuntary management of nutrition & effort

And if you don’t?

Well, the flip side of doing enough sports specific training and recover is that you didn’t…  Duh, I know. I’m being “Captain Obvious”!

So what’s the worst that can happen? The infographic covers that too, but in summary:

  • Poor electrolyte management a.ka. more likely to fatigue, overheat & dehydrate. Both of the latter are a real challenge when exerting yourself in cold weather.
  • Overloaded capillaries will be unable to deliver food or remove byproducts efficiently. So you’ll be slower, feel more “burn” – lactic acid – be more sore, pull muscles more easily, etc.
  • Skelton: “Normal” bones or bones that do not get enough rest between races have a much higher chance of suffering stress fractures.
  • Heart: For less trained runners, the damage to the heart after long-distance runs has been measured. That damage can take as long as 3 months to heal.
  • Brain: The amount of “alarm signals” to the brain – dehydration, fuel depletion & rising body heat – may cause it to “pull the plug” (yes, you could faint mid-run.)

Obviously, we’ll all do whatever we’ll want to do. But the science is pretty clear…

Infographic: Long Distance Running and the effects of Training and Recovery


Bad news about Fat loss!

How effective is training for fat loss?

With more than two-thirds of Americans being overweight or obese, and very similar patterns emerging in the rest of the (western) world, losing weight is big business. And as a result, the Internet is flooded with nutrition rules and advice.

There are tons of people and businesses out there with just as many “guaranteed fat loss programs” and more or less helpful suggestions plus nutrition rules. After having spent almost a decade as both a fitness enthusiast and having transitioned to being a fitness professional, I’ve seen my share of insane promises, long lists of “what to do”, “miracle cures” (enjoy the side effects!), more or less whacky training programs and pretty much anything “fitness” and “health” related you can think of.

But here’s the (shocking?) thing:

Fat loss isn’t actually about how much, often or hard you train.

It’s mostly about following some very simple nutrition “rules”. As people much smarter than I have stated:

You can’t out-train a poor diet! – [Click to Tweet]

I realize that it’s probably not a great idea for somebody in my position to make that statement – it seems counterintuitive to making a living by training people, but you know what? It is the truth!

And if you don’t believe me, try this pretty simple simple experiment:

The Fat Loss Experiment

Before you go to the gym next time, put on a heartrate monitor and enter the required data to ensure it’s configured to “calculate” your calorie consumption while you exercise. Then, go “do your thing”.

Fair warning; “measuring” your calorie consumption this way can be as (in)accurate as 75% at any one measurement. And, as the linked article highlights, the “measurements” (estimates) appear to be consistently overestimated. But, for for this specific case, measuring your calorie consumption this way will still serve to illustrate the point I’m making above. Having worn a calorie counting device during more than one of my many training runs while getting ready for one of the marathons I’ve completed (or for the Goofy Challenge), one fact becomes glaringly evident:

Running, continuously, at about 60-70% of max effort – a.k.a “in the fat burning zone”, for 4-5 hours resulted in my device gleefully informing me that I had burned (evaporated) somewhere between 2,800 – 3,800 calories (kcal). Awesome news for fat-loss, right?!?

Spoiler Alert – If you don’t want the depressing news, don’t read on! (But you really ought to read on. This is where things get interesting!)

The depressing news

We’ve probably all heard this presented as a fact:  1 pound (lbs) of fat, or 0.454 kilograms, represents approximately 3,500 calories (kcals). So, conventional math dictates, to lose 1 pound of fat, you will need to generate a calorie deficit of 3,500 kcals. (Those dissenting views I linked to lack links to citations in support of their stated opinions/math. But they still present interesting perspectives!)

So, back to my personal experience for a brief moment. During my marathon training runs, I ran continuously for as much as 5+ hours. During that time, my calorie consumption measurement tool told me I’d burned enough calories to equal about 1 lbs of fat lost. This “tool” would be similar to the one that typically over-reports calorie burn during training by between 33% and (in some very tightly controlled cases) 12%, according to

So, before you break out the champagne, let me also remind you: I added calories to my body on those days. I mean, I had to eat, right. Thus, the net calorie deficit was nowhere near the “between 2,800 – 3,800” reported by the counter/device!

Not think about this

Most people tell us they’d like to “lose about 10 pounds”, or more…

Is the problem with using only training as your fat loss tool becoming obvious yet?

No matter what you may think, people who are successful at fat loss have one very significant thing in common:

They have managed how and what they eat and drink! [Tweet this]

And then they trained/worked out to make sure they look great, healthy and strong once the fat came off!

Training is a key ingredient!

Does this mean you can just skip training until you’ve lost the weight? Well, frankly, you can do whatever you would like to do. BUT, if you want to spend less time working on losing the weight and more time enjoying the benefits of your (re)new(ed) body, the answer is a resounding no!

Remember, fat loss is about having created an energy deficit (calorie deficit) in your body. You supply energy to it in the form of calories from food and drink. Since fat is how your body stores any excess energy it’s been supplied, when your body needs more energy than the food it’s been supplied on a given day, it will eventually convert the fat back to energy and use it.

But beware: It’s actually easier for the body to break down muscle tissue for energy than it is to break down fat for the same purpose. And our body is, not unlike most of us, all about “bang for the buck” (max result from minimum effort).

Accelerate your fat loss

So, from a training perspective, there are a couple of “rules” to be aware of:

  • Your body burns more energy while you’re physically active
  • With the right training program, your body will burn additional calories for as much as 48 hours after each training session (Afterburn / EPOC)
  • Resistance training builds muscle
  • Muscle burn more calories than fat.[1].
  • To accelerate fat loss and not winding up looking like limp spaghetti, you need to encourage your body to (re)grow muscle
  • If the body’s energy needs aren’t met, the body “prefers” to break down muscle over fat.
  • Having more muscle = slightly higher calorie deficit = little more fat burned. It’s a beautiful cycle!

Now, repeat after me (self affirmation time!):

“Good nutrition is what I do to look good while dressed. Awesome training programs are what I do to look great naked.” – by you

Do you have fun/positive/entertaining/motivating fat loss & training experience you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments!


Muscle burn more calories than fat –> “[…] muscle, contributing only 20-25% of total resting metabolism[…]” – C. Bouchard, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, La. (see: “The myth of ripped muscles and calorie burns” – LA Times.)

How much water should I drink?

How Much Water Should I Drink?

“How much water should I drink” seems like it should be a very simple question to get a good answer for, doesn’t it? Yet a Google search will return 76 000 000 hits. Yes, you’re reading that right. That’s 76 million(!) articles/posts having been written on the subject, as of when I wrote this piece.


Why does it matter

I’m sure you’ve heard, more than once, that water is essential to us. Access to fresh water is not only a resource that wars are predicted to be fought over it in the future, the conflicts are real and current today. But what does water do for us?

Simply put, almost all of the essential systems in your body rely on water1. Not only is water used to moisten tissues, such as the mouth, eyes & nose. It also helps regulate your body temperature, lubricates your joints, protects tissue and organs and is a critical component in the process of dissolving minerals, vitamins and other nutrients. It’s the primary component in our blood, making it “somewhat” important when it comes to getting oxygen and nutrients transported around in our body. Lastly, it helps you tremendously by transporting “gunk” out of the body – via the kidneys, urinary tract, etc.

So, they didn’t lie to you…

Water is important, and having enough of it in your body is “probably a good idea”.

But what is the right amount of water to drink every day?

Two of the more common answers are “8 x 8oz” and “60-80oz per day”. And they pretty much always come with the admonition that “this is water only!” That means that they don’t want you to include coffee, tea, milk, juice, etc. Those are in addition to the recommended water amount!

Simply explained, the 8×8 rule is interpreted as drinking eight 8oz glasses of water per day. This is also quoted as “the body needs 64oz/day”. The next rule, drinking 60-80oz of water/day, appear to have emerged as a result of the 8×8 rule. It is speculated that it could be the mathematical “conclusion” to the 8×8 rule, with a bit of wiggle room.

It isn’t. But it is related.

No credible scientific sources can be cited for the origin of the “8×8 rule”, but some sources believe the recommendation may have originated2 as an – incorrect! – interpretation of a study by the Food and Nutrition Board, National Academy of Sciences in August of 1945: “Recommended Dietary Allowances”. On the subject of water consumption, the study states: “An ordinary standard for diverse persons is 1 milliliter for each calorie of food”. Since the recommended kcal load (per day) typically winds up being in the ballpark of 1900 to 2500 kcal, and an ounce (oz) of water equals 29.57 milliliter (ml), people have interpreted that to mean that, depending on how much you’re supposed to eat every day, you should should consume 64.2oz if you consume about 1900kcal (8×8), up to 84.53oz – if you consume 2500kcal/day – of water.

Both of the “rules” are wrong!

Or – rather – the “common man” interpretation of the data turns out to be. Neither of the rules are based on science, at all.

What happened?

A study into the science behind the 8×8 rule indicates that the rule have come about as the result of an omission/oversight when reading/quoting from the original recommendation in the “Recommended Dietary Allowances” study from 1945. It’s also possible the the recommendation is based on a what has since been attributed to an – apparently – off-hand comment3 by the renowned nutritionist, Dr Fredrick J. Stare.

Let’s tackle the omissions/oversights that seem to have led to the statement that we all need to drink 64 oz of water every day:

There are two, really. The first one being that nowhere in the “Recommended Dietary Allowances” does it state that water is the only source for hydration. As a matter of fact, the very next sentence, following “… ordinary standard … 1 milliliter for each calorie …” states:

“Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.” – Recommended Dietary Allowances, Aug. 1945.

So not only is coffee, tea, well any liquid you can safely consume, on par with water when it comes to its ability to hydrate you, the study expects most of the 64oz of liquids prescribed to come from the food you eat! Before you go off the handle, some of the liquids you can consume are obviously less good for you than others, but it doesn’t change the fact that they count towards satisfying the body’s need for liquids. Alcohol, for instance, may have a short term hydrating effect, but it is quickly reversed by the body consuming extra water to cleanse the body of the toxic by-products of alcohol4.

The second omission pertains to the fact that how much water you need on a given day depends on, not only your health and activity level that day, but also on external factors such as how hot or cold it is. On days when you are sick and not feeling well, your body will need more water. The same goes for days when you exercise or exert yourself. Or for days when it’s extra hot or cold.

So, How Much Water Should I drink then?!?

Well, as with all things nutrition, diet and lifestyle, it depends. But you have one advantage: An amazing alarm system and its built in to your body. It’s called “thirst”.

I know, I know. All of the “experts” will tell you that you only feel thirsty after you have become dehydrated, and by then “its too late”.

(Full disclosure: I may have been guilty of this statement at one time or another.)

Then there are those who will tell you that “people often mistake thirst for hunger” and that “drinking water will suppress your appetite”.  With a growing number of the Western world having a vested interest in fat loss & calorie restriction, because we’re getting a bit big around the waist, that on its own is cited as a good reason to drink more water.

True, there is a study that concludes that drinking water 2 glasses of water, prior to your meal – if you’re middle aged or older(!) – will help you eat fewer calories. And, of course, if you’re drinking water with your meal, you’re probably not drinking a sugar laden drink with loads of empty calories.

But all of those statements are overly simplistic.

First of all, the feelings of thirst and hunger are regulated by different systems in your body. As in, they’re separate. Not directly connected. (Get the picture…?).

Sciency Stuff Ahead!

Scientists measure hydration levels of your body by looking at the “Plasma Osmolality” of your blood. Osmolality is a measure of the concentration of substances such as sodium, chloride, potassium, urea, glucose, and other ions in a solution (your blood). Basically, to measure your hydration level, they look at the rise in the “thickness” of your blood.

For the typical human being, we start experiencing feelings of thirst5 when our our plasma osmolality rises by less than 2% from its normal level. Symptoms of dehydration, on the other hand, will be experienced after a rise in plasma osmolarity of no less than 5%. A 5% rise in plasma osmolarity translates to a body weight loss – water evaporation, not fat loss! – of about 3% of your body weight.

Or to put it simply, you will feel thirsty while your body is still within the normal range for plasma osmolality, so feeling thirsty does not mean you’re already dehydrated!

Secret tip from a fitness professional

Beyond being misinformed – which a lot of fitness and nutrition professionals are when it comes to this topic – our insistence on “over-hydrating” a client may also be part of a really simplistic strategy to quickly drop “the numbers” on the scale for you (it’s not “lying”! It’s “good marketing” ;-))

If you’ve ever started with a new fitness & nutrition professional, I’m sure they’ve told you to increase your water consumption. And, if you followed their advice, within a day or two you started going to the bathroom for “tinkles” a whole lot more than before.

We call that “water manipulation”.

You’ll mostly see it in photoshoots & bodybuilding competitions. Why? Because it works. Makes you (appear) leaner in no-time. Personally, I’ve “lost” 6-7 lbs – real numbers on the scale –  in under a week! All by simply increasing my water intake (after first spending some time where I was NOT “over hydrating”).

In conclusion

The answer to “how much water should I drink” is actually very simple:

Stop trying to drink some arbitrary number of ounces (or liters) of water every day.  Drink enough liquids to not feel thirsty. And when you start feeling thirsty, drink some more.

Also, water isn’t the only liquid you can drink to avoid dehydration. Pretty much anything with a high concentration of water/liquids – think juicy foods, coffee, tea, etc – in it will suffice.

The advantage water has is (at least) two-fold:

  1. There is no processing needed for the body to put clean water to use. No filtering or cleaning needed. Just pump it right into the system as soon as it arrives in the digestive tract!
  2. It contains no additional calories and as such will not increase the girth of your waistline (won’t make you fat).

If you’re a middle aged human being who knows how to time his/her water intake relative to their meal, it may even help you consume fewer calories!


[1] – Mayo Clinic (unknown) Functions of Water in the body, Mayo Clinic Website
[2][5] – Heinz Valtin (2002) American Journal of Physiology, Vol 283, no. R992-R1004
[3] – Stare FJ, McWilliams M. (1974) Nutrition for Good Health. (Plycon, Fullerton, CA), p 175.
[4] – Tuma DJ, Casey CA (2004) Dangerous Byproducts of Alcohol Breakdown – Focus on Adducts, Department of Veteran Affairs Alcohol Research Center

No doubt about it, you're getting old! (Let's talk about food and aging)

In the last post, we talked about the importance of having a great mindset when it comes to getting older. Now? Time to talk about the relationship between food and aging!

Less is More!

As we age, the energy needs of our body decreases. Naturally, we do not need to eat as much so it becomes even more important to be mindful to chow down on lower calorie, but nutrient rich foods.

The bad news first: As you age, you need to start eating less… Both in terms of volume as well as how processed and sugar rich your food is.

The good news, there’s a ton of really tasty whole foods to turn to!

But, be ready for a bit of withdrawal from processed foods.

I have been shocked how just cutting out sugar, caffeine and processed grains cause havoc with my mind and body for a couple of weeks. Headaches, stuffiness and feeling a little off. Then, what follows next, are amazing amounts of energy and clear-headedness. Finally things start to even back out.

At least, that’s what it feels like when you start getting used to it.

Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones and skip the withdrawal and go right to the benefits. Have you already cut out processed foods? If so, please share your experience in the comments section.

New food intolerances?!?

If you get flu like symptoms, bloat, and/or feel tired, it may be time to remove some foods from your diet. They’re all possible signs of internal/intestinal inflammation. And inflammation is “not good” when it comes to maintaining your health for the future! Imagine a visible body part becoming red, irritated and then never getting better…

Wouldn’t you become concerned something was wrong? Maybe spend a bit of time and energy to figure it out and do what you could to make it better?

So how much can you eat?

If you have not eaten low calorie nutrient rich foods before, we expect you will be surprised at how much you actually can eat without moving the needle on the scale, if the food is right. So it isn’t a question of eating less food, as much as it’s a case of eating less calorie dense foods.

In order to lose fat, or maintain status quo, a shift in carbohydrate type will help. Bread, pasta, fruit and vegetables all contain lots of carbohydrates. Bread and pasta don’t provide much nutritional value beyond the carbohydrates, but it does contain plenty of calories for the body to store as excess fat. You don’t get to eat much before you over-eat.

On the other hand, it is quite the challenge to over-eat fruits or vegetables (As long as they are not drenched in dressing or prepared in a way that adds unnecessary calories – cheese sauce). 

When it comes to Fruit and Vegetables, you can easily eat to feel 80% full without ever overdoing it!

Everyone gets older, whether they want to or not.

But how we get older is an everyday choice between investing time and money up-front with training, clean and healthy foods, fun and entertaining time off.

Or, spending your savings on pills and hospital bills once the body can’t take it anymore. And not to be a complete downer, but the pills & bills often come with a fair bit of extra side effects, anxiety, stress and feelings of uncertainty.

Next week:

Exercising today for a brighter – and hopefully cheaper(!) – future. We’ll look at a simple strategy to keep you moving.