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.
We all know that to improve performance we need to follow a healthy lifestyle, including a consistently good nutrition plan and training programme. But what about the other ‘less obvious’ factors that can effect performance both in the gym AND in day to day life?
Do you pay as much attention to your sleep routine as you do your nutrition?
Maybe you should.
There are 750+ scientific studies that have investigated the relationship between sleep and human performance, many of which have studied elite athletes specifically. The results are compelling: Sleep improves speed, explosiveness and accuracy. It enhances our ability to process information and solve problems. It improves our judgment, composure and ability to assess and respond to situations. It accelerates physical recovery from common inflammation, stimulates muscle repair, and helps restock cellular energy in the form of glucose and glycogen.
In other words, sleep is one of the most sophisticated, potent, and powerful—not to mention legal—performance enhancers that has competition-winning potential.
It is also one of the most under-utilised. Two-thirds of adults fail to obtain the recommended eight hours of sleep nightly. You’re probably not surprised by this, but you may be surprised by how it affects you as an athlete. Obtain anything less than eight hours of sleep a night, and especially less than six hours a night, and the following happens:
Just like you can't out-train a bad diet, you can’t out-train poor sleep. In fact, the physical and mental impairments caused by one night of bad sleep dwarf those caused by an equivalent absence of food or exercise.
Put another way: Unless you’re getting at least eight hours of sleep every night, you're undermining all your hard work in the gym and on your nutrition.
We spend too much time improving our mental and physical abilities to leave anything as powerful as sleep on the table. If you’re looking to take your performance to the next level in 2018, you have to make sleep a priority.
Here are some ways to make sure you’re getting eight hours a night:
Maybe if you have some holiday time over Christmas this could be your first step towards a healthier happier and stronger 2018!?
I hope that by now, after the first two Nutrition Workshops in the series you are beginning to understand the simple basic rules of PROGRESS Mode, in that;
To LOSE weight (i.e. fat) you need to be in a consistent calorie deficit. This might mean that from time to time you will feel hungry. And guess what? Thats Okay!
To GAIN weight (i.e. muscle) you need to be in a consistent calorie surplus. Which means that sometimes you will feel full and you still need to eat, even if you're not hungry. And guess what? Thats totally fine!
If you are in FAT LOSS MODE then your focus should be to eat LOW CALORIE, NUTRIENT DENSE whole foods. Why? Because they provide essential nutrients & vitamins to fuel your body to move & train, its the most effective way to blunt hunger, they can be created into tasty meals which satisfy you & prevent cravings for sugar & shit, and they will fill you up, whilst remaining in a calorie deficit. This can include, but is not limited to: Oats (yes, I did say CARBS, because you can eat carbohydrate and lose fat!), Green Soup (CARBS), Strawberries/Blueberries (FRUIT also CARBS), Fish (PROTEIN), Poultry (PROTEIN), Eggs (PROTEIN), Greek Yoghurt (PROTEIN), Cottage Cheese (PROTEIN), Spinach/Broccoli (GREENS).
If you are in trying to GAIN more lean muscle mode then you should eat HIGH CALORIE and not very filling foods so that you can eat more, without feeling like you're going to explode and maintain your calorie surplus. This can include, but is not limited to: Avocado (FATS), Nut Butter (FATS), Quality Red Meats (PROTEIN), Rice (CARBS), Granola (CARBS), Full Fat Milk/Yoghurt (FAT).
Thats not to say that these lists are exhaustive, or that you can/can't eat things in the other camp. One of the reasons I avoid giving clients prescriptive Nutrition plans where I tell you exactly what to eat is because rather than tell you what to do, I prefer to help you to understand HOW it works and that whatever is 'best' for the individual largely depends on you then individual, because despite what social media might have you believe ONE SIZE definitely doesn't fit all. There isn't really a RIGHT or WRONG way, some people choose to eat meat, others are vegan. And thats cool. There are no BAD or CLEAN foods - be careful with health food halos, that would have you believe that because you bought it in a Wholefoods store and its organic/gluten free/vegan its also healthy and calorie free. Nope.
Take home message here? Stick to the basic principals for whatever MODE you're in. You can eat carbs and fruit if you're trying to lose fat as long as you maintain a consistent CALORIE DEFICIT. Protein sources and fats fit well on both sides. Finally, its not fancy. Its not magic nor does it guarantee FAST results (or Jessica Enis abs in a week) in 7 days. But it is realistic and sustainable. And it works.
More to come...