Meat vs. Plant Based Diet: Who Wins?

The Netflix documentary, The Game Changers, may have you reconsidering your diet, but the truth isn’t that cut and dry.

You’ve probably seen or at least heard of the Netflix documentary, The Game Changers.

Maybe you watched it already and immediately dumped all the meat from your freezer into the garbage.

But I’m here to present the facts from both sides, and documentaries like this one are meant to entertain and support their position, not present all the facts in an objective way.

Here’s what I do know, first and foremost:

You can lose fat on a plant-based diet. You can lose fat on a meat-based diet. You can be unhealthy on a plant-based diet. You can be unhealthy on a meat-based diet.

This should not be a yelling match between vegan/vegetarian advocates and meat eaters. This should be a discussion about what the current consensus is in the research and determining what works best for you.

The Game Changers is well-produced and uses lots of celebrity endorsements to support its central message that plant-based proteins are better for athletic performance.

Bear in mind this statement has little to do with you, the average person, just trying to lose a bit of weight and be a bit healthier while still eating foods you enjoy.

(Not to mention its Executive Producer, James Cameron, is CEO of Verdiant Foods, an organic pea protein company with the goal of becoming “the largest pea protein fractionation facility in North America.” That might factor into why he made a movie to encourage you to eat more plant-based, but I may be in the wrong there.)

In this article, I’ll stick with the science to answer the question of whether plant protein is indeed better for our health, physique and physical performance than meat proteins. I won’t go into ethical or environmental concerns.

Should you eliminate meat from your diet?

The Game Changers claims meat causes cancer, inflammation and cardiovascular disease.

In an article by Menno Henselmans, he shared a review done by The Annals of Internal Medicine on the health effects of red meat, which concluded there’s insufficient evidence to reduce red meat intake.

Further still, a meta-analysis, reported on by, based on 24 randomized controlled trials in adults, compared red meat eaters to those who didn’t consume red meat.

Compared with eating less than an ounce of red meat per day, consuming more does not appear to have a significant influence on blood cholesterol, triglycerides, or blood pressure, according to the research. also notes that red meat is likely to be more harmful when prepared in certain ways.

Harsher cooking methods such as frying, broiling, BBQ grilling, and roasting consistently led to higher levels of toxic compounds than gentler cooking methods such as boiling, poaching, stewing, and steaming.

It would be quite the stretch to state that a charbroiled burger patty, bacon or sausage are the same as a medium-rare sirloin steak or ground grass-fed beef.

The Game Changers, like many documentaries that came before it (remember What The Health?), only presents cherry-picked studies to support the filmmaker’s views.

First off, know this: Eating bacon on Saturday mornings will not cause you to instantly drop dead, face down in your frying pan.

The dose makes the poison. If you make a habit of eating bacon for breakfast, chargrilled BBQ hot dogs for lunch, and processed deli meats for dinner, day in and out, yes, you may, in fact, be increasing your risk for colorectal cancer.

But regularly swapping those processed meats for grass-fed beef, wild caught fish, and lean chicken is a completely different story.

It’s the processed kind that is more likely to cause colorectal cancer, according to the World Health Organization’s 2015 review of the link between processed meat and cancer.

The other problem? Your average vegetarian is typically more health-conscious than the typical North American who follows a western diet with meat included. Someone on a vegetarian diet is much more self-aware of what they eat, so they’re generally more health-conscious and invested in their diet than the average person.

The best comparison to make would be health-conscious meat-eaters (who choose minimally processed foods, exercise regularly and consume a calorie-controlled diet) vs non-meat eaters who follow a similar lifestyle, but I don’t know if such a study exists.

In one 2016 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vegetarians and meat eaters studied in the UK had similar life expectancies.

Both Meat and Plants Offer Health Benefits

While plants offer certain health benefits and nutrients, animal foods do too. While plants shine in terms of vitamins, anti-oxidants and phytochemicals, animal foods have a higher protein quality and are typically richer in bioavailable minerals, especially iron, beneficial fatty acids like omega-3s and B-vitamins.

Animal proteins (particularly red meat) supply vitamin B12, which helps make DNA and keeps nerve and red blood cells healthy, and zinc, which keeps the immune system working properly, and protein, to build and repair muscle.

One thing the research seems very clear on is to eat more vegetables and fruits. So maybe the answer is a ‘flexitarian’ diet where you add meat strategically to a predominantly plant-based approach.

What About Fat Loss?

My goal as a coach is to offer the simplest, most effective way for typically busy clients to reach their fat loss and fitness goals. The evidence supports higher protein intake to accomplish this task, and it’s easier to meet your protein needs if you have meat as an option to do so.

Daly et al. (2014) studied what happens when elderly strength training women add 160 g cooked meat to their diet 6 days a week. Compared to the control group who stuck to their regular diet, the meat-eating women gained more muscle and more strength with a greater reduction in measured inflammation and no adverse effects on blood lipids or blood pressure.

This is always hotly contested by those who believe Netflix documentaries, but the research consistently supports protein intake to preserve muscle and increase satiety on a diet.

So, with that all away, how about I give you a much simpler solution? Something I call the 4 Pillars of Perfect Fat Loss…

The 4 Pillars of Perfect Fat Loss

That all said, if you’re looking for a simple solution, I like to break it the perfect fat loss plan down to these four pillars.

Because it’s easy to get confused by all the noise. Heck, a search for the “best diet” on google will send you down a never-ending rabbit hole. Same goes for the “best workout plan.”

So, scratch all that and don’t let paralysis by analysis stop you from moving forward. I’m going to show you the simple formula here in this article.

Pillar 1: Calorie Control

You need to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat.

If you’re a naturally chubby person who puts on fat easily, start by multiplying your bodyweight x 10 in total calories. I.E. 200 pound man would eat 2,000 calories.

Keep in mind this is just a starting point, and you may need to adjust your totals up or down depending on how you respond in the weeks ahead.

It’s probably a good idea to get a good portion of those calories from protein and fibrous veggies, as you’ll feel full on less calories and be less likely to cave into cravings.

Pillar 2: Resistance Training

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to use weights, but strength training does the body good. If you’re a newbie, your body can generate plenty of resistance just fine.

It depends on your level of development and limitations, but find efficient activities that push you and also involve a fun factor, so you stay consistent with it.

Pillar 3: NEAT

NEAT is number three. That’s non-exercise activity thermogenesis. That is simply the deliberate act of walking more, standing more, and going out of your way to move your body. But when you do this, your fat loss is better. Studies have shown this time and time again. The higher your NEAT, the higher your percentage of fat loss.

The Mayo Clinic designed a study to look at the mechanisms that hinder fat gain. They studied 16 subjects (12 males and four females), ranging in age from 25 to 36 years.

The subjects volunteered to eat 1,000 excess calories a day (above what they needed to maintain weight) for eight weeks.

Some of the subjects gained 10 times more fat than others, ranging from 0.8 to nine pounds. The overall weight gain ranged from three to 12 pounds, some of which was additional muscle.

NEAT explained the big variation in weight gain. The subjects who rated high in daily expenditure from NEAT were among those who gained the least.

Pillar 4: Sleep/Self Care/Stress Management

I lumped a few things in here, the 3 S’s, but they all support one another. If you’re getting four disrupted hours of sleep every night, your results will be sub-optimal. If you’re stressed out and burning the candle at both ends, your results will be sub-optimal. You get my drift here.

In one extensive review by the Sleep Research Society, children and adults with short sleep duration were 89 per cent and 55 per cent more likely to become obese, respectively.

I don’t care how old you are, the research says enough sleep is in the seven to nine hours a night for the vast majority of us.

In the end, it’s best you throw away the complicated formulas, fad diets and black-and-white approaches and focus on building your lifestyle around those four key pillars.

Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based weight loss coach for men and women like his former self. Obese in his 20s, he now helps clients find their spark and lose weight the right way and keep it off for life. To inquire about coaching or to download a free diet secrets cheat sheet, visit



Five (ish) Strategies To Stick To Your Diet

Raise your hand if you’ve tried more than a dozen diets in your lifetime.

Now keep your hand raised if you saw some early success with most of them, only to see that weight come back once you returned to old habits.

You are in the majority if that sounds familiar. Frankly, sticking to a weight loss diet can sometimes feel like a never-ending barrage of plateaus, frustration, disappointment and, if you’re lucky, sustainable success eventually.

But the best thing you can do is take ownership of your past failures and learn from them.

Here’s a quick synopsis of a conversation I had last week that’ll illustrate this.

Me: Well, let’s go through what you ate yesterday.

Potential Client: Muffin and double-double coffee, I brought a salad for lunch but wasn’t hungry after eating fruit and a donut at a lunch meeting, and pizza and a small pint of ice cream for dinner. Oh, plus a glass of wine. Or was it two?

Me: Well, what do you think is causing you to gain weight?

Potential Client: I think my metabolism is broken. I barely eat.

Me: <Blank stare>

I’m being a bit facetious here, but you get my point. All of us need a wake-up call sometimes.

Fat loss is simple, once you accept how hard it is. Sometimes the best thing we can do is point the finger directly at the person staring back at us in the mirror every morning.

Because like a lot of things that are good for us, it’ll be tough to swallow at first, but you’ll be better off for it. Here’s the secret: Most don’t stick it out long enough or consistently enough to change for good.

They think 6 or 12 weeks or even half a year of effort is enough, and it’s simply not.

You need to have at least one foot in at all times, no matter what is going on in your life.

With that said, make it easier on yourself the next time you attempt a diet by implementing these five strategies.

1. Make it A Lifestyle, Not A Quick Fix

I’ve been treading water for a month since dieting down for my birthday. But I never get too out of hand during these downtimes because I’ve built foundational habits into my lifestyle.

Those habits are:

  • I never take more than a week off from the gym… (for 17 years and counting)
  • I always make protein a focal point of my diet, with at least 200 grams every day.
  • I never drink alcohol apart from special occasions.
  • I always delay breakfast (some call this Intermittent Fasting so we’ll go with that)

Just those four things allow me to maintain my weight without a setback.

If you’re the type to lose weight only to put it back on, it’s because you haven’t built foundational habits in your life.

Your turn: What are your foundational habits?

Again, the key here is to identify the most important habits and activities that will have a positive effect on your fitness goals.

For example, your list of habits might look fairly simple to start, such as:

  • You will take a 30-minute walk every morning
  • You will go to the gym three times a week
  • You will always prepare a homemade lunch to bring and avoid takeout at work

Now, it’s all well and good to get these down in writing, but if they aren’t front of mind every day and you aren’t accountable for following through, they won’t stick.

2. Enlist Support & Accountability

There really is nothing like having someone else keeping you accountable for what you say you want to do.

Case in point, I’m in San Diego this weekend for The Perfect Life Retreat put on by Craig Ballantyne.

Craig is a mentor of mine, and for being one of his top mentees (is that a word?), I’m being flown down to sit on a round table and take in a few days of learning.

Frankly, I need a shot in the arm in general. It’s been an off couple of weeks and I need to get clear on my vision and priorities again.

Yes, even coaches need coaches.

Whether that’s growing a business, getting in shape, or improving another aspect of your life, finding someone who has “been there and done that” and can help you get there is the fast lane.

I learned that the hard way when I first attempted to lose weight, going in circles for several years before biting the bullet with an online fitness coach before its time.

3. Weigh Yourself Daily

This next suggestion to sustain your diet effort may not go over well with many, but it’s one of my favourite methods to ensure consistency and daily motivation.

By weighing yourself first thing in the morning, you’ll get an initial reminder of what you’ve already achieved (or will achieve) while setting your intentions for the day ahead.

One study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that participants who weighed themselves daily for six months lost 13 more pounds, on average, than those who weighed themselves less frequently.

When I wake up in the morning and weigh myself, it provides an additional reminder that unless effort is put in, I won’t achieve my goals.

Not to mention, the simple act of weighing myself every morning provides me with a simple reminder that I’m on a plan right now and need to make good choices. You will have to accept daily fluctuations are a part of the process and not let the number get in your head though.

4. Plan Out Your Week

You’re an adult with a lot of competing priorities. If something isn’t on your calendar, it’s more than likely going to be done sporadically if at all.

By putting your workouts and other fitness priorities in the calendar and checking them off as you go, it not only improves adherence by gives you little victories along the way.

Often you won’t be validated each and every week with measurable progress, but by focusing on what you can control day-to-day, you’ll build momentum and find enjoyment in the process.

5. Track Your Calories

Keeping a daily food journal is very similar to the act of weighing yourself daily.

Consider keeping a food journal or using a food tracking app to ensure consistent reminders, while staying on track with your nutrition.

Controlling calories is the biggest driver of weight loss, but unless you physically track what you eat in real-time, diet amnesia kicks in.

Our brains do a real good job of encouraging us to over-eat and forget the slip-ups. In a now-famous study by the New England Journal of Medicine in the ‘90s, researchers investigated energy intake in self-proclaimed ‘diet-resistant’ individuals who failed to lose weight despite claiming to eat fewer than 1,200 calories per day.

The mean self-reported intake was 1,028 calories but the groups’ actual average intake was 2,081 calories per day. The participants underreported their energy intake by 47 per cent!

(Bonus!) 6. Give Yourself Periodic Rewards

Say one of your goals is to complete 12 workouts in November. When you check off that last one, reward yourself by booking a massage or mani/pedi. Anything that’ll incentivize you to see them through.

I hazard against rewarding yourself with junk food, but a nice night out to a restaurant works too. Providing yourself with real, concrete incentives for hitting goals (don’t just tie it to weight loss benchmarks) can really provide the level of motivation you need to push through sticking points.

Now, maybe a reward doesn’t do it for you. Some people are motivated through pain. This is known as “the carrot or the stick.” The carrot means you get a significant reward for accomplishing your goal, while the stick means you get a significant punishment.

The latter could be a financial consequence (where you have to donate money to a political party you don’t support if you fail to meet your targets).

Think about which one better motivates you and put a plan in place focused around your reward or consequences along the way.

The Fat Loss Formula “Golden Ticket” In Summary

In the end, the diet itself is not enough.

What most gloss over is “The Grind” of getting in shape. It’s going to have as much tough days as good ones. The inability to press through when the going gets tough is what keeps many stuck in that cycle of losing and gaining back the same 10 pounds.

You must accept struggles, setbacks, discomfort, delayed gratification and failure as part of the process. You can’t have success without struggle.

That would be like having kids and not expecting any rough nights of sleep or days you’d just like to ship them off to boarding school (is that still a thing?). But kids are worth the struggle, and getting healthy and fit is worth it too.

Expect to wake up and say, “Are you kidding me? This scale must be broken!”

Reframe these obstacles as stepping stones to the promised land that awaits. Even a 2-month plateau can be a win if you don’t trend the wrong direction.

Flexing your resiliency muscle along the way tests how much you want to change. That’s a more important muscle than your biceps if you expect to succeed at this.

You owe it to your future self and your family to keep persisting.

So here’s what I suggest you do if you want to reach a goal before the calendar turns to 2020 and another year is lost.

1) Set a hard 60-day deadline around your primary goal right now. If it’s weight loss, something like “lose 8 pounds by Dec. 31.”

2) Enlist some accountability to follow through (publicly share it with friends and family or join a program).

3) Set up a reward or consequence for yourself at specific intervals and at the end.

4) Implement ongoing strategies such as food tracking, weighing yourself daily and weekly planning to keep you on track.

Of course, in the end, your body may not co-operate and you may fall short, but by pursuing it with urgency around a hard deadline, you’re more likely to succeed than if you just tried to “eat healthier and exercise” with no clear direction.

Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based weight-loss coach for men and women like his former self. Obese in his 20s, he now helps clients find their spark and lose weight for life. To get direct mentorship as one of his new program case studies, email him at with “Interested” 



Electing The Right Diet For You

You’ve probably had your fill of elections over the last few months.

But, don’t worry, this article isn’t trying to convince you of one diet over another.

But since all of them claim to be superior, it can be hard to know which ones are worth trying.

The truth is that no one diet is best for everyone — and what works for you may not work for someone else.

So, with that said, let’s look at the pros and cons of popular diets so you can make an informed decision for yourself.

Low-Carb Diets (Think Keto)

Low carb diets have been popular for decades — especially for weight loss – and the best known one right now is the keto diet.

Here’s the lowdown in brief: eat foods high in fat, with moderate protein and cut carbs completely.

A real keto diet is high fat (75 per cent of calories) with an extremely low carbohydrate intake (less than five per cent of calories) and low-ish protein intake (15-20 per cent).

The primary aim of the diet is to force your body to use more fats for fuel instead of carbs as a main source of energy.


Numerous studies have shown low-carb diets as an effective method for weight loss, especially in overweight and obese individuals.

They also tend to reduce your appetite and reduce cravings in some, leading to an automatic reduction in calorie intake.

There’s also some research indicating positive outcomes on many major disease risk factors, such as blood triglycerides, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, insulin levels, and blood pressure.


It’s highly restrictive. You can’t eat carbs to any great degree. Studies show the average dieter spends about six weeks following keto or paleo protocols — followed by 14 weeks off the plan. Often, they end up gaining more weight after the diet than where they started.

If you can live without carbs, this is a viable option. Even striving to limit your carb intake and slipping up here and there could still work due to a reduction in overall calorie intake, but it could create an unhealthy relationship with food.

The Vegan Diet

This one restricts all animal products for ethical, environmental, or health reasons. Ethical reasons aside, this article will focus on its role in weight loss.

(Veganism is also different from vegetarianism, as it eliminates dairy, eggs, and animal-derived products, such as whey, while the latter does not).


A vegan diet seems to be very effective at helping people lose weight — often without counting calories — because its low fat and high fiber content lead to reduced calorie intake.

One 18-week study showed that people on a vegan diet lost 9.3 pounds more than those on a control diet. The vegan group was allowed to eat until fullness, but the control group had to restrict calories ( Source).

However, calorie for calorie, vegan diets are not more effective for weight loss than other diets (Source). You’ll notice a theme here with most of these diets: weight loss is driven by a reduction in overall calorie intake.


Because vegan diets eliminate animal foods completely, you may have to supplement  a new micronutrients typically derived from meat, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, iodine, iron, calcium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Similar to the keto diet, it’s also restrictive by eliminating an entire food group. This may make it hard to adhere to the diet, though the food industry has taken strides to adapt and offer more meat alternatives for non-meat eaters.

It’s also challenging with this diet – albeit not impossible – to meet your protein needs. Why does that matter? Because the vast majority of weight loss studies show that as much as 20-30 per cent of the weight lost during dieting is from lean body mass, including muscle mass. That’s not good. Maintenance of muscle mass is important for everyone who wants to tone and tighten along the way and maintain a healthy basal metabolic rate (BMR) in the end so weight maintenance becomes easier. Strictly from a weight loss perspective, diets high in protein consistently perform best for fat loss (not just weight loss).

The Paleo Diet

The “caveman diet” as it were, this one appears to have fallen a bit out of favour in recent years.

While it’s debatable whether this diet really provides the same foods of our ancestors, the general premise is a good one: eat whole foods and limit processed junk.

It may take it one step too far by restricting sugar, dairy and starchy grains entirely, which are fine to eat if you have no pre-existing intolerances.


A number of studies have shown significant weight loss and reduced waist size by following a paleo diet.

Following a paleo diet automatically leads to reduced carb and calorie intake with more protein to compensate. That’s a winning formula. Much like the aforementioned diets, it can improve health markers over time.


The paleo diet also tells you what you can and cannot eat, and that typically isn’t condusive to strong adherence over the long haul, unless you can live without indulging in your favourite ice cream.

The Carnivore Diet

The Carnivore Diet is in polar opposition to the vegan diet, requiring its followers to only eat meat, fish and other animal-based products like eggs and dairy. Everything else must go.

According to an article on Heathline, the Carnivore Diet stems from the controversial belief that human ancestral populations ate mostly meat and fish and that high-carb diets are to blame for today’s high rates of chronic disease.

Popularized by Shawn Baker, a former American orthopedic doctor, the diet has you aim to eat zero carbs, and proponents claim it can lead to weight loss and a host of health benefits.


If you’re a big meat eater who never bores of steak, then you may have found your diet.


It has not been researched in depth in the medical community to prove the validity of its claims. Baker’s medical license was also revoked by the New Mexico Medical Board due to concerns about his competency.

Tracking Macros/Counting Calories

The term “tracking macros” simply means logging the foods you eat on a website, app or food journal.

Once an arduous task, apps now exist that calculate your macros as you log your food. There’s a learning curve in the early going, and a digital food scale may be necessary until you get to a point where you can guesstimate your portions.

When a client signs up with me, one of the first things we do is start by tracking food intake. This helps us quickly identify the little tweaks needed that make a big difference.


The real magic is in empowering you with the know-how to understand the nutritional makeup of your food, how to read nutrition labels and take control of your food choices.

As long as you stay within your calorie budget each day, no food is necessarily off limits.

Now, if your goal is weight loss, you probably understand you can’t eat your favourite dessert every night and expect to make progress, especially if it’s something you binge eat. But at least it’s an option when you plan for it once in awhile. That gives you something to look forward to.


It can be time consuming at first. There’s also been some recent research suggesting food tracking apps exasperate eating disorders. If you have a history of eating disorders, a balanced approach around portion control without counting may suit you better.

The Best Diet Is The One You Can Stick To

All the approaches above tend to boil down to a couple guiding principles: eat less calories, eat more lean proteins and/or greens and eat less processed foods.

According to a review on, “Independent of your diet’s macronutrient ratios, a negative energy balance (consuming fewer calories than your body needs) is responsible for weight loss.”

In summary, provided you get your calorie intake right, eat protein and exercise, you’ll have the foundations in place.

In a perfect world, you can start by sticking to a similar diet to the one you are already doing, but find a way to eat calories overall.

In the end, you do you. Elect the diet you think suits your lifestyle best and allows you to stick to it long enough to see permanent results.

Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based weight-loss coach. Want his help finding the best approach for you? He’s got a brand new case study coaching opportunity starting Nov. 1 for at least 5 committed people ready to get a jump on the new year. If you want to lose 1-2 pant sizes and up to 20 pounds in 8 weeks, email him with the subject “Interested” to




Jamie Burned The Belly Without Giving Up Beer

I want to introduce you to Jamie today.

He had an affection for beer, but wanted to get rid of the beer belly without sacrificing throwing back a few (or many) cold ones over the summer.

We took him through our system to decipher what foods work best for him so he could sleep well, have great digestion, good energy, and lose weight along the way.

He still enjoyed a few cold ones (and a lot of cold ones on special occasions) but with the strategic cheat day protocol clients get to enjoy every week, he still managed to lose 26 pounds and 12.5 inches in roughly 10.5 weeks!

Here’s my Q&A with Jamie

Where you were before working with Mitch?

With a belly that prevented me from seeing my toes, yeah toes …. when standing upright. Eating crap food and lots of it.

Why might you have been skeptical of joining at first?

I wasn’t skeptical at all. I watched lots of Mitch’s videos and saw the client spotlights and progress pics. I knew if someone else could do it I could too, I just had to commit!

What was your BIG breakthrough from the coaching?

Finding out that I didn’t have to starve myself to lose weight. It’s all about portion control and just healthier food choices and habits.

How much weight did you lose working with Mitch?

26 lbs

How did your waist measurements change working with Mitch?

Shrunk considerably. (Note from Mitch: just over 6 inches lost)

What were 2 non-scale victories you experienced working with Mitch (compliments, pants fitting etc.)

I had to punch new belt holes in my belt. I started with mitch on the first hole and quickly made it to the last.

If someone is thinking of joining up with Mitch, what would you tell them?

If you’re ready to commit to looking and feeling better then give mitch a call. He will work with you and help you through it all step by step. I couldn’t have got to the place I am now without his help. I’ve had a gym membership for 4 years and did nothing with it. I have reached my weight goal with mitch’s help in 3 months!

P.S. Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help you lose fat without sacrificing family time or going through the same frustrating cycle of weight loss followed by weight gain.

Apply for the next BYOB (Burn Your Own Belly) Coaching Intake

If you would like to fast track your fat loss and get the daily accountability you need to follow through on what you know you need to do, this is the solution for you.

The next BYOB (Burn Your Own Belly) program is looking for five people who want to lose 20 pounds and two pant sizes before Christmas.

And, when you join, you’ll be gifted my best belly burning recipes and guides (I have guides for everything from improving skin quality to sleep to fat loss) to help you succeed even faster.

Just email “Interested” now to secure your spot. We get started next week but it closes to apps in 48 hours.


Avoid This Deadly Dieting Mistake

If you can’t lose weight no matter what you do, you’re not alone.

I receive dozens of emails every week that voice a lot of the same frustrations.

“I used to always be able to follow this diet for a while and drop 10 pounds, but it doesn’t work anymore…”

“I can’t seem to get the scale to move, and my spare tire isn’t going anywhere, either, no matter what fad diet I try next”

You see, your body is programmed to keep you alive. It does a good job of that, but it can be a big pain in the arse when dieting.

But I’m here to tell you there’s hope.

It’s easy to think your circumstances are unique and there’s too much on your plate or your metabolism sucks or whatever.

But I guarantee there’s someone with your exact obstacles who has already reached their goal and then some (I probably have a former client who is exactly like you!)

I’ve seen single moms with two young kids and a career absolutely crush it.

I’ve seen CEOs and business owners who travel 300 days a year absolutely crush it.

I’ve seen dads who work nights and care for kids on off days absolutely crush it.

Frankly, fitness makes you more resilient to the big stressors and challenges in your life. It’s the ingredient to success for a lot of high performers.

Without it, you turn to quick fixes like alcohol and crappy food (which actually make matters worse in the long run) to cope, and that does you no favours.

Whether it’s building a business, building a body or building a family, all of them take work.

But working smarter, not necessarily harder is the name of the game, and I’ll show you to avoid one deadly mistake that slows weight loss in its tracks.

Metabolism 101

But first, let’s break down what the metabolism is.

Your metabolism is largely driven by three things:

  • Resting metabolic rate (RMR)
  • Thermic effect of food (TEF), and
  • Activity (think exercise – but not just the gym kind as I’ll explain)

RMR is the number of calories you burn each day at rest, just to breathe, think, and live, and accounts for a whopping 70 per cent of calories burned.

The bigger you are, the higher your RMR. If you’re obese, you actually have a high metabolism, because body fat requires calories to sustain it. (to avoid any hate mail, this article is aimed at otherwise healthy individuals with high body fat. There are certain conditions that can cause a slowed metabolic rate, but they are beyond the scope of this article and typically addressed by a doctor if you get regular bloodwork.)

Fat-free mass is also a factor in your total RMR. The more muscle you have, the higher your calorie needs. But this category includes your organs as well. Your organs burn more calories than your muscles at rest to serve their respective roles in keeping you alive and well.

Gender and age play a small role. A woman’s resting metabolic rate is three per cent lower than a man’s of the same height and weight.  This is mostly due to men having more lean body mass and less fat at any given body weight, not some major hormonal advantage.

Your metabolism also slows subtly as you age, but this is as much due to a decrease in muscle and activity as it is hormonal changes.

What The TEF?

The second big factor in metabolism is the thermic effect of the foods you eat, or TEF for short. This is the energy expended through digesting and storing food. Carbs, fat, and protein each have different thermic effects, with protein the clear winner with as much as 30 per cent of the calories you eat from protein burned off in the digestive process.

For example, if you eat 100 calories of protein, you’ll only use and absorb about 70-80 calories of it (remember that embarrassing episode of “meat sweats” at the Brazilian BBQ joint? Yeah, this explains it.)

Do You Like to Move It, Move It?

The last factor is your activity levels. You may be thinking of intense gym workouts here, but a bigger factor in the calories you burn each day is your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), which accounts for all movement that isn’t conventional exercise.

While the other components of your metabolism are pretty much set and you can’t do much to change them, especially in the short term, activity and particularly NEAT is the one component you do have control over.

If you take one thing away from this article, to increase your metabolism, it’s wise to make a concerted effort to move more.

The biggest difference on paper between that friend with a “fast metabolism” and yourself is differences in NEAT, which can vary by up to 2,000 calories per day. Yes, that’s not a misprint.

The Mayo Clinic designed a study to look at the mechanisms that hinder fat-gain. They studied 16 subjects (12 males and 4 females), ranging in age from 25 to 36 years.

They volunteered to eat 1,000 excess calories a day (above what they needed to maintain weight) for eight weeks.

The researchers used highly accurate methods to measure changes in body fat (DEXA scan). Some of the subjects gained 10 times more fat than others, ranging from 0.8 to 9 pounds. The overall weight gain ranged from 3 to 12 pounds, some of which was additional muscle.

NEAT explained the big variation in weight gain. The subjects who rated high in daily expenditure from NEAT were among those who gained the least.

One participant burned an additional 690 calories more than baseline through NEAT alone.

To put this in the simplest terms possible, let’s take a hypothetical scenario with two men of similar stature who both weigh 220 pounds.

One guy works in construction, goes to the gym three times a week, and still finds time to walk his loveable Golden Retriever every night.

The other guy works in accounting sitting at a computer all day, hits the gym three times a week, and his favourite night-time activity is watching football.

In both individuals, the energy expended from the resting metabolic rate, thermic effect of food, and the gym sessions are basically the same. But the guy with the active job who walks his dog nightly needs 2,800 calories to maintain his weight while the sedentary guy needs only 2,200. The 600 calorie difference in their energy expenditure comes from the gap in NEAT.

Yes, you may think this is bad news because you have a sedentary job. You sit in a car, at a computer and on a couch for big chunks of the day. But that doesn’t mean you can’t force the issue and increase your NEAT in other ways.

Your boss may not like me, but taking frequent breaks to walk and move will do wonders. Try to take the stairs or park further away. Maybe pump out a few squats or push-ups in your office every couple hours.

(I have a 30-day NEAT challenge that only requires your body and four feet of floor space. Let me know if you want that free by sending me an email with subject “NEAT”)

The take home point is this (and it’s good news!): Your metabolism isn’t slow. You’re simply eating more than you think you are, overestimating calories burned through workouts at the gym, and not doing enough NEAT.

OK, so give me the NEAT game plan, Mitch…

Gotcha. While lifting weights and conventional cardio should be part of your routine, it doesn’t increase calorie burn as much as people think and only accounts for two-three per cent of your week. However, increasing your NEAT alongside your weekly exercise can be the one-two punch to help drive weight loss.

So here are four steps to bump up your NEAT:

  • Use the activity tracker on your smartphone or FitBit and aim to hit a certain number of steps per day. Sure, 10,000 is ideal, but aim for 5-7,000 range if you’re starting from ground zero. But please don’t eat back those calories. The calories burned on those devices is a best guess and often wildly inaccurate.
  • Get up from your desk and move a few minutes every few hours. You can email me for a 30-day challenge to put up on your bulletin board in the office.
  • Plan extracurricular activities that involve movement into your evenings and weekends
  • Make a morning or nightly walk part of your routine (fine if it’s on a treadmill watching TV this winter!)

Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based weight-loss coach for men and women like his former self. To apply for his next BYOB (Burn Your Own Belly) program, which helps busy people shed belly fat without restrictive diets, email him with the subject “Interested” or go to to download his free diet secrets cheat sheet.

Reach Any Weight Loss Goal in 90 Days

This was originally published in my Winnipeg Free Press column HERE:

There are a lot of guides on how to lose weight in 90 days, but here’s what makes this one different:

This one has nothing to do with what you should eat or how you should exercise. And despite that, I’m going to give you the blueprint to reach any weight loss goal in 90 days or less.

Don’t believe me? Let’s jump in and I’ll show you.

The problem with focusing on the diet or exercise plan first is it doesn’t address human nature.

The power is in the deadline. Without a deadline to act now and keep going, you will wait, hesitate and procrastinate or quit shortly after you start.

Think back to that college paper you had to write. You had weeks to prepare, but the real work began a few days away from the deadline, right?

I’ve heard from a lot of people who want to make changes with their health, but go about it the wrong way.

They may read some diet tips online, listen to Karen at the office, or even take the first small step and inquire about coaching, but then they go radio silent. They may as well say “my dog ate my application.”

Procrastination rears its head in the absence of desire and a deadline.

Listen, the reason most don’t follow through is the pain of staying the same doesn’t outweigh the pain of change just yet. Deep down, they’re comfortable with the way things are now.

But many confuse comfort with contentment. The comfort zone is a prison fuelled by indifference. That’s a bad place to be.

As you age, your indifference becomes habitual. You accept your circumstances and do nothing to change it.

You use age as an excuse to not start that business or get in the best shape of your life, rather than using age as a reason to act on those things now.

If your younger self had that same indifference, you’d never learn to walk, talk or grow.

For me, my default setting was to hesitate and procrastinate or quit when the going got tough. It took a lot of inner dialogue and mental gymnastics to take ownership of my life and become a solution seeker and action taker in every situation.

I still revert to my default wiring at times. I’m not saying it’s easy. But here’s the thing. Time will pass anyway. It’s never the right time to go for it.

When you are just out of school, it’s not the right time. When you are starting a family, it’s not the right time. When your kids are off to college, it’s not the right time. When there’s an elderly parent living and depending on you, it’s not the right time.

You can’t use that excuse your entire life.

You say you want to lose the weight you’ve carried around all of your adult life, but you aren’t doing enough to change it.

You say you want to get healthier and be a better role model for your kids, but you sit in front of the TV at night instead of going for a walk.

You say “if only I could afford to invest in a solution” like those celebrities and their trainers, but you’re spending $200 each month on takeout.

News flash: until you prioritize your health and match your words to your actions, nothing changes.

The problem is you’re dabbling in it. If you want to solve that problem for good, it takes commitment.

If you’re ready to make a change now, it’s time to set a big deadline.

So here’s what I need you to do if you want to reach a goal before the calendar turns to 2020 and another year is lost.

1) Set a hard 90-day deadline around your primary goal right now. If it’s weight loss, something like “lose 20 pounds in 90 days.”

2) Enlist some accountability to follow through (publicly share it with friends and family or join a program).

3) Set up a reward or consequence for yourself at the end or at specific intervals. If you want a behaviour change to stick (especially in the early “grind” months before it becomes habitual), there has to be something on the line.

Some people are motivated through pleasure, others through pain. This is known as “the carrot or the stick.” The carrot means you get a significant reward for accomplishing your goal, while the stick means you get a significant punishment.

Think about which one better motivates you and put a plan in place focused around your reward or consequence.

Of course, in the end, your body may not co-operate and you may fall short, but by pursuing your goal with urgency around a hard deadline, you’re more likely to succeed than if you just tried to “eat healthier and exercise” with no clear direction.

You’ll create more results in 90 days than you have in years if you tie your goal to a deadline. So, get serious. Set a tough deadline and go for it. If you need some accountability around your goal, reach out.

This is how Susan lost 20 pounds

Meet Susan.

Susan was one of those superstar clients that came into the program ready to work. The proof is in the pudding. 20 pounds down and a dramatic change in body comp (i.e. tone and tighten!)

Where you were before working with Mitch? 

Spending hours in the gym doing cardio with absolutely no effect on my weight.

Why might you have been skeptical of joining at first? 

It was the commitment of the money actually. I’m not used to spending that much money on myself. Through the articles I had read in the Winnipeg Free Press, Mitch and his philosophy spoke to me. I knew could work with him. It was putting my money where my mouth was. Literally. It has been the best money I have ever spent.

What was your BIG breakthrough from the coaching? 

I was eating too many calories and doing way too much cardio. I was eating well but eating too much. Also, I needed to weight train. Cardio was just making me crave. Mitch’s workouts were easier on my body than what I was doing.

How much weight did you lose working with Mitch? 

20lbs and counting!

How did your waist measurements change working with Mitch? 

Hmmm. At least a couple of inches. I can walk out of my pants now.

What were 2 non-scale victories you experienced working with Mitch (compliments, pants fitting etc.) 

People have noticed and complimented me. I love how my arms look! I feel proud of my body now. It’s not perfect but it represents hard work and commitment!

If someone is thinking of joining up with Mitch, what would you tell them?

DO IT!! You will not regret it. It doesn’t matter where you are in terms of your personal fitness goals. He tailor makes your program to fit you and your needs.

Get 90 Days of Coaching From Mitch in the Drop 2 Sizes Challenge

If you would like to fast track your fat loss and get the daily accountability you need to follow through on what you know you need to do, this is the solution for you.

The Drop 2 Sizes Challenge (ladies) is personally tailored to your individual goals and come with a two pant size guarantee.

Typical results you can expect with the 90 day program:

  • Average weight loss is 11-27 pounds in 12 weeks (depending on starting weight)
  • Average inches lost are 2.75-6.5 on waist/hips (2 pant/dress sizes)
  • Tone up the show muscles (arms, booty more shapely and toned)
  • Increased energy, endurance/heart health and confidence

Mary Louise Overcame Her Obsession with the Scale

Where you were before working with Mitch?

I was stuck in a negative mindset, looking for a quick fix and hyper-focused on the scale.

Why might you have been skeptical of joining at first?

Mitch is a guy so I wondered what did he know about weight loss after menopause

What was your BIG breakthrough from the coaching?

That it takes time. That was a huge shift for me.

How much weight did you lose working with Mitch?

Since I started working with Mitch I am down a size and have lost 8.3 lbs.

How did your waist measurements change working with Mitch?

Not sure on the inches but I moved down a notch on my belt.

What were 2 non-scale victories you experienced working with Mitch (compliments, pants fitting etc.)

Feeling compelled to go for a walk or bike ride and actually enjoying being active.

If someone is thinking of joining up with Mitch, what would you tell them?

I would tell them that they are worth it. They are worth investing in themselves so they can be happy with their weight, fitness level and overall health.

Get 90 Days of Coaching From Mitch in the Drop 2 Sizes Challenge

If you would like to fast track your fat loss and get the daily accountability you need to follow through on what you know you need to do, this is the solution for you.

The Drop 2 Sizes Challenge (ladies) is personally tailored to your individual goals and come with a two pant size guarantee.

Typical results you can expect with the 90 day program:

  • Average weight loss is 11-27 pounds in 12 weeks (depending on starting weight)
  • Average inches lost are 2.75-6.5 on waist/hips (2 pant/dress sizes)
  • Tone up the show muscles (arms, booty more shapely and toned)
  • Increased energy, endurance/heart health and confidence