Lots of people who are new to CrossFit begin their training hoping that it will help them lose weight. But it doesn’t take long before they realize that nobody can lose weight from exercise alone. As long as you’re still eating the “Standard American Diet” (S.A.D.) you probably have ZERO chance of significantly changing your body composition, even with a serious regimen of CrossFit training.
If you want to lose weight and unwanted body fat, as a part of being fitter and healthier, you will eventually have to address the real causes of excess weight. And you may need to be deprogrammed. At a minimum will need to unlearn the social and cultural habits of eating you have become accustomed to.
And the first thing that means is losing the sugar, starches, and dense carbohydrate sources in your diet.
Why Americans Are Overweight
According to the Centers for Disease Control American society is “obesogenic”: “characterized by environments that promote increased food intake, nonhealthful foods, and physical inactivity.” Food is everywhere, most of it is very unhealthy, and it is everywhere served in giant, nutritionally unsound portions. This is why Americans are overweight.
And it is true that studies have shown that, when people decide what, and how much to eat, they will follow environmental and social cues rather than “natural” cues such as hunger. We eat in socially determined ways, tending to eat whatever foods are served to us, in whatever quantities are offered. (See this report, for details).
Our weight problem is not just eating too much. It’s actually problem of eating too many high-glycemic (dense) carbohydrates. The problem stems from the fact that these cheap and “delicious” sources of calories are offered for sale almost everywhere. In every vending machine, in every gas station, in every coffee shop, in practically every store in America, what’s for sale? Cookies, crackers, chips, muffins, cakes, juices, drinks and other concoctions that basically offer calories derived solely from sugar and wheat and/or corn flour.
The First Rule of Weight Loss: Cut Out Sugar and Limit Starch
For decades, Americans have been misled into thinking that it was the fat in foods that was making them fat. However, it has become increasingly clear in recent years that you’ve been told a big fat lie. Fat doesn’t make people fat.
What, then, does make people fat? The answer is simple. Excess carbohydrates lead to unwanted weight gain.
Carbohydrates cause weight gain because eating carbohydrates leads to the release of the fat-storage hormone insulin, which acts to remove nutrients from the bloodstream and store it as fat. Furthermore, if your insulin levels are chronically high, as they are when your diet includes regular infusions of sugars, you will never be able to access all that stored fat for use as energy, because insulin not only stores calories as fat, it blocks the fat burning pathways as long as it is present.
Insulinogenic foods include all sources of refined or dense carbohydrates: sugary and sweet foods and beverages, and starchy breads, pastas, potatoes, etc.
Sugar is Toxic
But the problem with carbohydrates is not limited to the problem of hyperinsulinemia (chronically elevated insulin). As if raising the risk of type II diabetes and the spectre of obesity was not enough, it turns out that sugars, specifically the fructose component of sugars, are actually a metabolic poison.
As respected pediatric endocrinologist and medical professor Dr. Robert H. Lustig explains in the video lecture “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” (provided here, at left, for your convenience), consumption of sugar, and especially fructose (even in moderation) has numerous harmful consequences for the human metabolism. Lustig blames the alarming increase in childhood obesity in America on the inescapable prevalence of sugars and High Fructose Corn Syrup in processed and prepared foods. (It is highly recommended that you invest 90 minutes in watching Lustig’s video presentation; it will be time very well spent).
Lustig’s research is more or less confirmed by the research of Gary Taubes, who argues that the most likely cause of the obesity epidemic in modern America is the prevalence of dense carbohydrate sources in the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) Many Americans are hyperinsulinemic because of it. (Who do you know who is hyperinsulinemic? Probably anyone with a plus-size waistline or a “beer belly.”) For a full treatment of this topic, CrossFit Asheville recommends Taubes’ book Good Calories, Bad Calories.
The bottom line is: if you want to lose that belly you simply must cut out the sugars and refined starches.