Eating for FAT LOSS is simple. But its definitely NOT easy!
I will always remember a quote from one of the best S & C Coaches in the world, Dan John - when he talks about Fat Loss, he tells you its got to be 'an all out war'. You have to be extremely committed, patient and consistent. Most people who decide to lose weight/try to get lean, start off all guns blazing but a combination of going too extreme by cutting calories too low and increasing cardio and expecting results overnight, unfortunately give up before they see any long term change.
So, providing you have a good plan (I recommend following an experienced and qualified Coach) and understand the BEST and most effective methods to support your fat loss goals (read all the previous BLOG POSTS for this!) there are also some useful ways to help you achieve the body you want.
In the first few weeks of any change programme you should expect to experience some level of discomfort. When it comes to ditching old habits of over eating, or eating too many of the wrong things, or cutting down on alcohol, the longer you've been used to that lifestyle, the harder it will be to create the break them and embrace your new, healthier habits. Thats one reason why I coach my members and fat loss clients that Fat Loss isn't a short term, fast fix (unless you are specifically working to a time sensitive goal). In most cases, changing peoples mindset with regard to this is the first and most important step towards a leaner and healthier life. The idea that you can diet for 6 weeks to lose 2 stone, look great and go back to your old ways is BS. Some of the biggest diet industry giants make millions every year because people think they can jump in and out of a low calories diet. Instead, creating small and significant changes to the way you THINK, EAT and CONNECT with food will release you from the shackles of yo yo dieting, for ever.
While you should expect to experience some hunger when you start at Fat Loss journey (feeling hungry is NOT an emergency), this can be difficult for lifetime over eaters to control. And often, this is the reason they end up knee deep in the cookie jar or family packs of crisps. Here are some helpful tips to help you to keep the hunger at bay and also control the cravings and the urge to binge, which will also leave you feeling distressed and disappointed with yourself.
1. WHY EATING LITTLE AND OFTEN MIGHT NOT BE WORKING FOR YOU.
If you've heard that eating 5-6 small meals over the day helps to speed up your metabolism and lose weight quicker then you have been fooled. I used to believe that too. Eating more frequently is NOT necessarily more effective for Fat Loss. If you enjoy eating little and often, and it works for you, then providing you can keep within your daily calorie deficit, then crack on! But small meals are often not ideal for big eaters, they can make you feel hungrier more often and can lead to you constantly thinking about food, which is not what you want! After 3 weeks of consistent feeding, your body gets used to your food schedule, so it makes sense that if you're eating 5-6 times a day, you'll feel hungry 5-6 times a day. Also your body and your gut has to work harder to keep digesting the intake of food. Try sticking to 2 or 3 larger more filling meals, over the day, allowing at least 5 hours in between.
2. PROTEIN IS THE MOST FILLING MACRONUTRIENT
Protein fills you up more than carbs. Fact. but often because of insulin resistance and hunger pangs when we are hungry its too east to grab high GI carbs that you think will instantly satisfy you. Instant gratification, is another issue with many over eaters. You should try to keep your feelings of hunger in perspective and not reach for the easiest thing to eat. Protein will keep you fuller for longer and control blood sugar levels. Thats why its KING when it comes to fat loss. Aim to eat 30g at EVERY MEAL, it will make a big difference to your experience of hunger. Grabbing cooked chicken, humous, a protein shake, eggs or greek yoghurt will be better for you long term than bread, toast bagel, bars & biscuits!
3. HIGH VOLUME, NUTRIENT DENSE FOODS GIVE YOU MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK.
Eating more eggs, oats, veggies and low sugar fruits will allow you to east more volume in exchange for lower overall calories. Thats the key to help you feel satisfied. Plus they take up more room in you stomach helping you feel full. Fill up on extra veggies with every meal and use these foods for on the go snacks to keep you away from junk.
4. HUNGER IS NOT A 999.
Historic over eaters are foodies. Fact. Lets face it, you didn't get fat eating salads. Experiencing hunger and not auto responding with high valorous, high fat sugary junk is another change you need to wrap your head around. Resist the urger. Drink water or low cal teas - maybe you're thirsty. Drinking more fluid can also be a clever way of keeping hunger at bay!
5. ENJOY THE OCCASIONAL TREAT
Being lean and healthy does NOT need to equal deprivation. Save some room in your daily calories to enjoy a square or two of dark chocolate, or some cheese, or some cream in your coffee. Small indulgences can keep you on track, help you feel happy and also manage the cravings so you aren't thinking or drooling about food all the time. I love my daily flat white & biscotti!
6. IF YOU FEEL A HUNGER ATTACH GET ACTIVE
If you know there are certain times of the day when you are more likely to struggle, don't risk being near the kitchen. Get out for a walk in the fresh air, go to yoga, or get to the gym. Distraction is a great way of forgetting you're hungry, and getting active rather than sitting on your ass in front of the TV you'll be mazed the hunger just goes away!
Fat lThis week at our first of the Mini Nutrition Workshops for 2018, we talked about the order of priority when it comes to Fat Loss and in particular the things that people often get the wrong way round! When people make the decision to lose weight, or essentially look to lose some body fat, they naturally think they need to do two things; 1) embark on a strict very low calorie controlled diet and 2) run, either on the treadmill or around the streets. Actually this is the exact opposite of what they SHOULD be doing and is a really backwards approach to successful fat loss. Very low calorie controlled diets suck, are miserable and leave you starving and grumpy - and very few people can successfully sustain them. And cardio type training is NOT the most effective way to support Fast Loss.
So, here is the Hierarchy of Fat Loss.
1. NUTRITION. Your diet is ultimately the most important factor when it comes to Fat Loss. You can be running like Mo Farrah but at the end of the day you may as well be running on the spot if your diet isn't dialled in. First and foremost establish you total daily calories to ensure you are in a slight calorie deficit. Secondly, in order to maintain what muscle you have and ideally build more, eat PROTEIN as a priority with EVERY meal. Aim for approx 30g per meal (or 1g per 1lb of lean tissue) - which is roughly the equivalent of a chicken breast.
2. STRENGTH TRAINING. If Fat Loss and looking LEAN is your goal then you should absolutely 100% be lifting weights. Together with eating enough protein is the key to helping you maintain muscle and maybe building some, to allow you to shed the fat. Losing weight with a calorie controlled diet only means you will likely lose muscle and look flabby & skinny. not a good look. LIFT weights 3 - 5 times a week if possible and learn how to Squat, Deadlift, KB Swing, Push Up & Pull Up your way to lean.
3. SLEEP & STRESS. Do not under estimate the massive effect that both a lack of regular quality SLEEP and too much STRESS can have on your fat loss. It can be a big factor in why someone isn't losing fat (IF they are dialling in their nutrition & training!!) and not seeing results. Lack of sleep and too much stress make you crave high calorie, high fat & sugary processed food, plus they effect your appetite making your hungrier AND they sabotage your hormones and energy levels. The big take home here is; SLEEP 7 -8 hours every night, and eliminate as much stress from your life as possible, or at least find healthy ways to control or manage it!
4. CARDIO & CONDITIONING. This should come after you have the first 3 priorities in check. NEAT (see previous BLOG post) or cardio is less effective at supporting Fat Loss but can help if you have the nutrition, strength training sleep & stress dialled in. Cardio burns much fewer calories than most people like to believe, but walking and conditioning is good for your heart health and waistline and is ultimately better than sitting on your ass eating so aim to do 10,000 steps a day as a good measure.
If FAT LOSS is your goal, focus your energies on the priorities in order of the hierarchy and you WILL move the fat from your body. As always consistency & patience is key, cutting calories too low and draining energy is a recipe for disaster and yo yo dieting so don't be tempted to be extreme. A solid nutrition plan, with regular strength training and adequate sleep, stress management is the most effective solution for long term. successful RESULTS. Fat Loss is a lifestyle not a destination.
I often hear clients blame a slow metabolism for the reason they can't lose body fat and ultimately weight. It's true that there isn't much you can do to alter your basal metabolic rate (BMR) which is the energy your body needs to function vital organs per day at rest, is largely down to two things; your genetics and your size. If your parents had slow metabolisms, its likely you will too. If you were fortunate enough to inherit a speedy metabolism, then you are quids in and the larger you are (or the more muscle you have) the faster your metabolism, on the flip side the smaller you are the slower your metabolism. That's because it takes less fuel or energy (ie calories) to run a tiny person than it does to move a large person. This is often disappointing news for obese people trying to lose weight and get into shape. Men also usually have less body fat and more muscle than women of the same age and weight which means they burn more calories at rest and as you get older, your metabolism slows as the muscle tends to decrease naturally and fat accounts for more of your bodyweight.
So, we've stablished that you can't swap your metabolism with a smaller leaner person, but there are a few things you CAN do, to increase the number of calories you burn per day. And like I always say - small progress is still progress, and a few calories here and there can add up in the longer term. In addition to your BMR, two other factors determine your metabolism. Food processing and your physical activity & exercise.
Thermogenesis is basically the calories your burn eating, digesting and absorbing food. It varies depending on the macro type being digested - protein burns most, then carbs then fat. Also eating REAL whole food, burns more than drinking calories, or processed junk because your body has to work harder to break down fibre and protein - hence why my number one advise for fat loss clients is to eat plenty of lean protein, with green veggies & fruit. Not only is it better for your health, it also helps you look better too.
The activity that you do all day (that isn't formal exercise) is called NEAT. This is walking and moving between normal daily activities and can vary between 100 and 800 calories a day depending on how active a person is. This is the easiest way to burn more calories. Increase your non formal exercise activity. Move more. Sit less. It's that simple.
Muscle speeds the metabolism. Simply because muscle burns more calories than fat. Put simply, this translates into - a size 10 woman with a larger percentage of muscle and lower percentage of body fat than her friend, also a size 10 but who is 'skinny fat' and has more body fat and less muscle, will burn more calories at rest and when active! So, even if you aren't interested in gaining a lot of muscle it is in your best interests to at least maintain what muscle you have. How? By lifting weights & including weighted exercise in your gym sessions. My advice for women of ANY age, aim to get a minimum of 2 and ideally 5, strength training workouts per week. Both for health reasons AND for weight control & loss. The idea that strength training, makes women look bigger is outdated and incorrect. Lifting weights, makes you grow lean muscle, which makes you look leaner & tighter (toned) and the more lean the less fat, the more calories you burn. All the more reason to get off the treadmill or ditch the slow, steady running and learn how to squat & deadlift. Your body and your life will thank you for it!
Take away points. A slow metabolism is rarely the reason behind excessive weight gain. Too much body fat is down to consuming too many daily calories and not enough daily activity. There are however, a few things you can do to get the best out of your metabolism. and a little adjustment here and there can make a big difference over time.