Yesterday I went on a training course to get my certification in advanced nutrition for weight management, as I felt this would be very useful to my practice and would enhance my work with my weight loss clients. It might sound strange, but I didn’t really learn anything new or groundbreaking and that’s actually a good thing – it means that my nutrition and fitness knowledge is bang up to date and that I am already doing the right things when it comes to working with you!
You guys are already familiar with my approach. You won’t get a dramatic transformation and, if you’re looking to be a figure competitor or fitness model, then I’m not the coach for you. What you will get is steady, sustainable fat loss through manageable lifestyle change, invaluable nutrition knowledge and a more positive relationship with food. The aim is to get you healthy and then watch the excess weight fall off as a consequence.
I’m going to share with you the basic principles you need to know. It’s not crazy or based on fads, but on scientific evidence-based research. You may not like some of it because it conflicts with mainstream media advice and with what your doctor might tell you; sadly, GPs receive very little training in this area. Here goes:
Diets don’t work
All the evidence out there shows that diets based on calorie restriction produce only temporary weight loss. Most people regain their original weight because such restriction is impossible to sustain. Metabolic changes caused by crash dieting also mean that many people regain *more* weight than they lost. And trying to lose weight by restricting fat intake doesn’t work either, because fat is not what contributes to fat storage.
Eat your fats, and restrict your carbohydrates
The message that we need to eat low fat and base our diet on 6-11 servings of grains a day is incredibly off the mark. It was based on very flawed research from the 1950s which was actually about reducing the risk of heart disease, and the recommendations to eat more carbs and less fat have led to dangerous levels of obesity in the UK and US.
If you are an endurance athlete, your body will use starchy carbohydrates very effectively due to energy output and increased muscle mass. Sit at a desk all day and drive everywhere? Starchy carbs are not your friend and will lead directly to fat storage as you simply don’t need all the glucose they provide.
Base your meals on proteins and a big range of vegetables, with an added portion of healthy fats like olive oil, butter, nuts or coconut oil, and you will stay full as well as sustained on a healthy range of nutrients. Eat unnecessary carbs (even complex ones such as brown rice) and you will produce too much insulin to clear all that glucose out of your bloodstream, pushing more fat into your cells. Want to eat starchy carbs? Then you need to move your ass and exercise! Do not fall into the trap, however, of thinking you can eat what you like because you made it to the gym. You can destroy your hard work with one slice of pizza.
If you’re thinking that the advice to eat fat and go lower carb is new, think again. Nutrition experts and scientists have been arguing against the high carb, low fat guidelines for decades, but have been shushed by governments and food manufacturers who have a lot to lose if the low fat food industry goes bust. Check out the work of Walter Willet at Harvard University for a robust rebuttal of the US government’s dietary recommendations; he is the world’s most cited scientist on nutrition.
Please also note that I am not telling to cut out carbs from your diet, just that if you need to lose fat you should get most of your carbohydrates from vegetables and only from grains post-exercise for refuelling your muscles; do not ditch food groups!
Get moving with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
If you want to burn fat and reshape your body, then it’s time to ditch the low intensity cardio. The whole ‘fat burning zone’ concept has been pretty much binned in favour of intense bursts of exercise with alternating rest breaks. While there is always a place for some steady state cardio in a training programme (rest and recovery, variety or obviously as training for endurance running) you won’t shed fat by plodding away on the cross trainer. Either get to a HIIT class (like mine!) or look online for examples. You will burn a ton of fat and calories during the session as well as long after you have finished. It’s also very efficient if you are time poor. HIIT combined with weight training will help you shed fat and get muscle definition, and it’s this combo with good nutrition that helps my clients achieve their results.
It’s not just calories in, calories out
It would be so easy if it was, but we know that your body stores fat from some food sources more readily than others, that genetics and hormones play a part, and that your stress levels and sleep quality will all impact on your propensity to gain weight.
I’m sure you knew a lot of this already and that if I asked you to keep a food diary, you would easily be able to pinpoint the changes you need to make to get to a healthy weight. However, the trick is motivating yourself through change and then sustaining it when challenges present themselves, like social events or holidays, or even trying to keep losing fat but maintain energy for half marathon training, and that’s where coaching comes in.
If you’d like to talk to me about how I can help you and be your cheerleader on your way to a healthier, leaner life, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation. If you would like my free set of nutrition hand outs, then also please get in touch!
Good luck and see you soon!