Track Improvement, Stay Satisfied, and Protect Your Metabolic Health

Are you planning to start a diet? Don’t—at least, not until you listen to this episode.

I’m sharing the four things you absolutely must do before starting a diet in order to succeed. You’re going to learn the real numbers you need to know to track improvement, the major thing you may be getting wrong about weight loss, and how to prevent dieting from wrecking your metabolic health.

Plus, you’ll learn about a critical strategy that will prepare your body for an overlooked effect of fat loss.

If a diet is in your future, you don’t want to miss this episode!


00:01:03 – The key thing you’re getting wrong about weight loss
00:04:07 – Here’s your action plan for monitoring your numbers
00:05:48 – Dieting can have this disastrous effect on your metabolism
00:07:59 – The two critical benefits of eating protein first
00:09:57 – You probably haven’t thought about doing this

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Watch the FULL VIDEO on my YouTube Channel

Subscribe to my podcast

Take the 7-Day Eat Protein First Challenge

Read my book, The Sugar Impact Diet

Learn how foods cause leaky gut in The Virgin Diet

Bioimpedance scale

DEXA scan

MyoTape body measuring tape

Inbody scale

Click Here To Read Transcript

ATHE_Transcript_Ep 610_Don’t Start Any Diet Until You Do These 4 Things First
JJ Virgin: [00:00:00] I'm JJ Virgin, PhD dropout, sorry mom, turned four time New York Times best selling author. Yes, I'm a certified nutrition specialist, fitness hall of famer, and I speak at health conferences and trainings around the globe, but I'm driven by my insatiable curiosity and love of science to keep asking questions, digging for answers, and sharing the information I uncover with as many people as I can, and that's why I created the Well Beyond 40 To synthesize and simplify the science of health into actionable strategies to help you thrive.
In each episode, we'll talk about what's working in the world of wellness, from personalized nutrition and healing your metabolism, to healthy aging and prescriptive fitness. Join me on the journey to better health so you can love how you look and feel right now and have the energy to play full out.[00:01:00]
It's not what you weigh. It's what your weight is made up of. And here's the key thing. Weight loss is not synonymous with fat loss. If you lose a higher percentage of your skeletal muscle relative to your body fat, you can make yourself worse, not better. Now here are four things that should be non negotiable before starting a weight loss plan.
Number one, you gotta know your numbers. You got to know your starting point and then you've got to track daily to ensure that you are improving your body composition. So what is body composition? So your body is made up of two things, fat mass and fat free mass. But then we're going to unpack this more.
In your fat mass, you've got two types of fat. You got the fat you can pinch, and that actually, though you might not like it. is not the problem fat. The other fat is the fat that you can't pitch. That's [00:02:00] called visceral adipose tissue. That's the fat around the organs. And this is the fat you really have to monitor because this is the fat that is problematic.
You can see this by doing a bio impedance scale, specifically a DEXA scan is the best thing we're going to do for this. But also you can track it by using a simple tape measure and doing a waist to hip and a waist to height to be able to monitor this and make sure you get into the ideal range. Now, that's fat mass, fat free mass.
Is everything else. And within that, you have skeletal muscle, you have organs, you have bones, you have veins, you have arteries, and 3 percent of that fat free mass actually supports your fat mass. And what you really can change in that fat free mass, obviously, is skeletal muscle. And that ultimately is what you want to know.
You want to know what your weight is made up of, your body composition. And the single best way to do this is to get something called a DEXA scan. And in my perfect world. We would get rid of all of the scales at the doctor's [00:03:00] offices and we would have a DEXA scan or at least an in body or TANITA bio impedance scale, but the DEXA is the best one to start.
It's really the gold standard. And the DEXA is going to give you that visceral adipose tissue. And your norms for the visceral adipose tissue is as low as possible, right? But you definitely want to at least 10 percent of, of your overall body fat. Remember more body fat, you'll have more visceral adipose tissue.
That's not a good thing. Then at DEXA, you'll also be able to unpack from that fat free mass and find your skeletal muscle mass. For that, there's something called an appendicular lean muscle index or appendicular skeletal muscle index. You want to be in the upper 25 percent for your age. More importantly, you want to know that number because as you're losing weight, you want to make sure you're holding on to or building muscle while you're burning fat.
Now, a little caveat here. If you've got a lot of weight to lose, Likely, you're going to lose some muscle, but as you get closer to where you want to be, your body tends to [00:04:00] lose more muscle, but that's when you really need to hold onto it. So this is why we really want to monitor it. Obviously, you're not going into a DEXA every week.
That wouldn't make sense. So here's what you do. You go do a DEXA, you come home and you get a bio impedance scale and you compare it. Now my bio impedance scale tells me that my body fat is twice as much. As my DEXA scan does, but I use it to compare and just to make sure where my total body water is, where everything is.
I do the bio impedance scale at home every single day. There's all these scales now that have Bluetooth on your phone, so it will track it for you. And then I take the weekly average because your weight's going to go up and down. Note, if your weight goes up a lot or goes down a lot in a day, something's up.
Either you're dehydrated, Either you had a food reaction, create a lot of inflammation. That's why we toss out numbers and take the average and we're really looking for trends over time. With bio impedance, one of the cool things you'll see is total body water and you really want to make sure that you're keeping your muscles well [00:05:00] hydrated.
And again, I talked about at home, not only doing bio impedance, but using a simple tape measure to know your waist and to have a waist to hip and waist to height. So that's the first thing is we've got to not only know our starting numbers, but continue to monitor throughout. And approach this as a detective.
The scale is not a mean friend. The scale is a biometric tool to help you course correct as you go. And because the next thing we're going to do, if you're not doing this correctly. You may not know that you're improving because we're going to start resistance training. Now, if you're putting on muscle, you may see your weight go up a little bit, but your body composition has improved.
That's why we have to monitor our body composition. So next thing you're going to do is start resistance training. I already talked about that. When you start to diet, cut calories, you can lose skeletal muscle. If you lose skeletal muscle, if you lose weight at all, of course, you're going to have a lowered metabolism, but it will be even more so if you [00:06:00] lose skeletal muscle, but really, of course, what do we know with skeletal muscle?
This is mission critical as we age, right? Muscle of course is more metabolic expensive and just a little bit more than everything else. So part of it's going to help our metabolism, muscles where we can start to improve insulin sensitivity quickly, but muscle is everything for having powerful aging, starting at around the age of 30.
We're going to start losing up to 1 percent of our muscle a year. Bigger than that, we lose our strengths and our power even more so. And this starts to double at age 60. And the deal is, use it or lose it. So you certainly want to make sure that as you are losing weight, that weight is mainly fat mass and you are not dropping a bunch of skeletal muscle mass because low muscle mass.
Is correlated with higher all cause mortality risks. Now the deal is if you're morbidly obese, if you have a lot to lose, you're going to lose some skeletal muscle. But as we get closer to goal weight, you [00:07:00] really want to be carefully monitoring this and making sure that you're holding onto it. And again, you'll ultimately know this by doing the DEXA and making sure that you're staying in the upper 25th percentile for your sex and age for that ALMI that I talked about.
So to minimize your muscle loss, you're going to be doing resistance training. I really love to have you do three days a week of big compound movements, things like squats and chest presses and pull ups, right? That really take a lot of energy and work a lot of muscles. And doing multiple sets of these, like three to four sets of six to 30 reps with a short rest break.
Obviously I could do a whole video on this, and I have, so I've got a link below for my video on how to start a resistance training program. Makes it super simple, I'll walk you straight through it. So, after resistance training, the next one is I want to make sure that you are eating protein first and you're optimizing your protein intake because it's going to do two [00:08:00] critical things for you as you go on this program.
Number one, it's going to help you hold on to and build muscle. Can't build muscle as we get older without having the building blocks, those essential amino acids. Number two, and this is so key important, is it's going to help with satiety. When you eat protein first, and that's why I want you to eat it first, because then I know you got it in, but it also is going to help you be more satiated.
I always think about, I've done a couple cross country drives and there's a Texas steakhouse that's like, you know, if you eat, I don't know, whatever it was, some insane amount of steak, like dinner is free. And I was like, well, yeah, cause no one could eat that amount. Now they might be able to eat. 10 boxes of cereal that were the same calories, but we get too full with protein.
So how much protein do you want? Protein is going to be 0. 7 to 1 gram per pound of target body weight. And This is really an important fact. We don't need less as we age. We actually need more as we age because as we age, something happens, a phenomenon [00:09:00] called anabolic resistance, where we have trouble taking those amino acids and using them for muscle protein synthesis.
Now make sure when you break your fast and at your last meal of the day, your bumper meals, you're getting at least 30 grams of protein. More is probably better. And if it's plant based, you're definitely going to need to get more so that you have enough leucine. And this is something I learned from Dr.
Donald Lehmann to trigger muscle protein synthesis. And then make sure you get enough overall throughout the day. So I did a simple protein calculator and also a seven day meal plan. To ensure you get the protein, you can grab at, the number, and I put that in the show notes to make sure that you're covered.
So we know our numbers and we're monitoring them throughout. We are doing resistance training to maintain and build that skeletal muscle mass. We're getting the protein for satiety and to make sure that we have the essential amino acids we need to build the muscle mass. This last one is one you probably haven't [00:10:00] thought about, and this is super duper critical.
So toxins are all around us. They're in the air we breathe, the things we drink, what we're touching. Even if you are trying to be as clean as possible, you can't avoid them. And the deal is, our body stores toxins in fat. Now, obviously, we want to be getting this stuff out on a regular basis. We want to avoid our exposure and get things out on a regular basis, but we all have toxins stored in us.
There's been enough research to show this. When you lose fat, you free up toxins. So what you don't want to have is all these toxins running wild, going rogue in your body. So you've got to make sure that you can get them out. How do we get them out? We sweat them out, we pee them out, we poop them out, and we breathe them out.
The important thing is this pathway to get them out is dependent on amino acids that we get from protein, which is why [00:11:00] you're eating protein first. Super important. But some other things that can help here is getting The deep green leafies and rainbows of plants because those phytonutrients help with the first phase of detoxification, freeing them up, getting fiber that can help absorb them and get them out.
Remember, pooping is one of the ways we can get the toxins out. Sweating, of course. So how do you do that? Infrared saunas are amazing. Exercise is amazing, so that resistance training, and Epsom salt baths, which also, of course, can help with sleep. So double win there. Now, that's just a little bit of tip of the iceberg on detoxification.
I'm going to send you next to one that I did to really go deep into this, and this is how to do a healthy detox. No juice cleansing, hint, hint. My top tips. Grab that one. Be sure to join me next time for more tools, tips, and techniques you can incorporate into everyday life to ensure you look and feel great.
And more importantly, that you're built to [00:12:00] last and check me out on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and my website, and make sure to follow my podcast. So you don't miss a single episode at See you next time.
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