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!?
It's that time of year when for some reason it becomes harder than normal to keep on top of your Nutrition. Apart from the darker evenings, shorter days & chillier climate, all of which can make you reach for the warming comfort foods, the onset of the festive party season means a constant overload of eating & drinking super high calorie treats.
**HEALTH WARNING** weekends can seriously sabotage your fat loss plans!!
For many people on a fat loss journey, its the weekend overeating (and over-boozing) that prevents them from seeing the RESULTS they work hard for Monday to Friday. It's something I see over and over again. Individuals killing it in the gym and managing their eating during the normal working week and then Friday night comes and BOOM. For a lot of people it's become so routine now its a habit.
The common theme;
"Every Friday around 5pm, as I waited for the bus after work, I’d start to salivate. The end of the work week means red wine, pizza, a giant bag of crisps, and a movie. It's my Friday ritual. Friday night, is eat whatever I want, the highlight of my week. My job is stressful so fast food and booze is my way of unwinding. Friday is a gateway drug to the rest of the weekend. a big breakfast on Saturday, and big lunches afterwards. Either out on Saturday night for drinks and a big meal. Or stay home for a takeout and movie on the couch. Then its Sunday brunch, perhaps coffee & cake during a Sunday walk. And, naturally, winter weekends is a big Sunday roast… because it’s Sunday"
Because it’s Friday. Because it’s Saturday. Because it’s Sunday. Sound familiar?
We aren't talking about compulsive bingeing here. This kind of overeating is a routine, stress-fuelled, social habit. In most cases, your social circle supports it, even encourages it - 'its just what people do at the weekends'.
The problem is, that after a while, weekend overeating starts to bite you in the ass.
As every overeater knows, the over indulgence comes with consequences.
By Monday you feel physically uncomfortable, bloated, and mentally, you feel crap, guilty and angry for eating it all. And while a little weight fluctuation is inevitable when you’re trying to get in shape, if you want to stay healthy and fit, or make fitness and health a permanent part of your lifestyle, then weekend overeating can easily sabotage your goals.
Aside from the obvious extra body fat or poor performance in the gym, there’s all the other associated health related side effects. Your joints hurt because of inflammation from junk food. You’re too heavy to train properly. Or you lie awake in bed with food sweats or get a shitty sleep because of the overdose of sugar, saturated fats & alcohol. The problem is, like any habit, the cycle can be hard to break. Training harder in the gym the Monday after a social weekend isn't the answer. Nor is drastically cutting your calories as you begin another new diet on Monday as the starvation attempt almost always leads to an even bigger blowout the following weekend. The more the binge-diet cycle continues; the further the health and fitness goals remain out of reach.
How do you break free of the weekend overeating cycle?
Are your weekday eating patterns affecting your weekend behaviour?
Do you have a healthy, unemotional relationship with food?
Here are the 5 strategies to help ditch the 5:2 habit (and hopefully the weight) for good.
Strategy #1: Instead of trying to be perfect - start to live with balance.
Aim for “consistently good” instead of “perfect”.
By trying to follow the “perfect” diet and super strict meal plans Monday to Friday and constantly stressing about screwing things up, by the time you get to the weekend, you're mentally exhausted with it all and the willpower gives out. You’re so fed up of restrictive eating you can’t wait to eat ALL THE food you actually enjoy. Bring on the weekend binge! For most people trapped in this vicious cycle, there are only two options in their mind: perfect or crap. So the distorted logic of “It’s Saturday, I’m out to lunch with my family, and I can’t have my perfect pre-portioned kale salad like I usually do, so instead I’ll just overeat a giant bacon cheeseburger and a huge plate of fries.” If you take “perfect” off the table, things change. You feel empowered because there are now other options. Instead of kale salad vs. five servings of fries, there’s:
“I’m actually in the mood for a salad with my burger so ill sub the fires for a green salad.”
Always aim for “good enough”. Don't separate weekdays from weekends, instead make every day an opportunity to consider your health and fitness goals, what you're in the mood for, which healthy options are available, etc. Remember: The consistently good method you stick to is better than the “perfect” one you quit.
Strategy #2: Let go of rigid food rules.
Food rules tell you:
* what you can and can’t eat,
* when you can or can’t eat it,
* how you can or can’t eat it, and/or
* how much you can or can’t have.
These rules take up an awful lot of mental headspace. They also set you up for failure… aka “the Fucked It Effect”. Here’s how the Fucked It Effect works.
If #1 food rule is Don’t Eat Carbs. No bread with the soup; won’t touch a sandwich; no toast with your eggs. Then Friday night, you find yourself out with friends, and everyone’s having beer and pizza. You try and hold out but you give in and grab a slice. You've fucked it, you’ve “blown your diet”, so you might as well keep eating. Cue the binge and miserable, guilty after effects.That normally means you let go all night. Maybe all weekend. Eating by the rules almost always leads to overeating, because once you deviate, there’s nothing left to guide you.
Ditch the rules and let your healthy lifestyle be your guide. Non-dieters (or so-called “normal eaters”) eat when they’re physically hungry and stop when they’re physically full, no matter if it’s Wednesday or Saturday, morning or evening, work lunch or weekend brunch. Remember every choice has a consequence and don't let it spiral out of control.
Strategy #3: Don't allow yourself Cheat Days.
Monday through Saturday is all about sticking to your diet. But Sunday… That’s Cheat Day. The happiest day of your week. You wake up on Cheat Day morning like a kid at Christmas. Go wild all day long, eating all the stuff you don’t allow yourself during the week. As evening nears, you start to freak out. So you eat (and maybe drink) even more. Because tomorrow, it’s back to reality, diet starts again. Back to fidelity and compliance. And no fun.
Some people find the idea of a weekly Cheat Day useful both mentally and physically. If this is you, and it works for you, then by all means crack on. But ill be honest, for most of the people I’ve coached, having one Cheat Day means the rest of the week is food purgatory. Instead, don't exclude anything and make good choices all week. You don’t need to “cheat” because there’s nothing, and no one, to “cheat” on. Maybe you enjoy some dessert on a Tuesday night because you’re in the mood for it, or maybe you don’t because you’re satisfied from dinner. Either way, you're on control of your daily calorie intake. What and when you eat is up to you — and your hunger and fullness cues. No matter what day of the week it is. And whatever you choose is going to be key to how you look & feel.
Strategy #4: Own your choices.
There is no “good” and “bad” food. Sins aren't for adults. Mind games like this undermine your health goals — and your authority over your decisions. Instead owning your choices, and letting your adult values and health principles guide you when you sit down to eat. By making food decisions by acknowledging the outcome, based on your past experience. For example:
“I’m choosing to eat this tub of ice cream on Saturday night. I’ll probably feel nauseated and anxious afterwards. In this instance, I’m okay I understand that.” In the end, own your choices: But don’t try and justify them. You’re free to eat and drink anything you want. You choose your behaviour. Just remember that different choices produce different outcomes. It’s your call.
Strategy #5: Stop justifying your behaviour.
Weekends present all sorts of justifications for eating a bunch of non-nutritious foods. And trust me, Ive heard them all!
* You were busy. Or maybe you had nothing going on.
* You were travelling. Or maybe you were at home.
* You had to work. Or you were bored.
* You had a family/social. Or maybe you were home alone.
We can all try to rationalise our beehive with excises. Busyness, boredom, travel, work, or family dinners don’t inherently cause overeating. People eat or drink too much in lots of different situations. The explanation simply matches whatever happens to be going on at the time.
Rationalisations are a convenient way of helping us make sense of — and perpetuate — our overeating.
Stop justifying your behaviour or blaming something or someone else, and ask yourself why you are really overeating. On the odd occasion, you’ll want to eat crap. And too much of it. That’s normal. But instead of justifying it, take the opportunity to ask yourself what’s really going on in your head at that moment. Are you bored? Stressed? Sad? Happy? If you do this you’ll start to see some patterns. That’s the key, your opportunity to change overeating behaviour — and do something to address those emotions instead of bingeing.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE:
There is no perfect time to eat better, or to live a healthier lifestyle Not tomorrow; not on Monday. Not after Christmas. Life is always a busy, there will always be an excuse. All we can do is our best with what we’ve got. Right here, right now. Ask yourself: How’s that weekend overeating working for you?
If you’re loving all your junk-food nights out or gut-punching Sunday brunches, and you’re happy with the results, keep going. But if you’re fed up with how you look, how you feel and the vicious cycle it could be time to make a change. Ask yourself: What does weekend overeating do for you? What does it lead to? What does it add to your life? How does it solve a problem or have a purpose for you?
Often weekend overeating is self-medication for stress, stimulation and novelty, and a way to connect socially with friends/family.
To reset your mindset and break the cycle of weekend overeating, try:
* aiming for “good enough” instead of “perfect”,
* letting go of your food rules,
* giving up the idea of Cheat Days or Cheat Meals - carte blanche permission to eat everything,
* own your choices, and/or
* quitting the rationalisation/justification for your behaviour.
If you do over eat, park it and move on. Don’t try to compensate. Just get back to your normal.
You don’t “pay back” the damage in the gym or on the treadmill, nor do you need to kamikaze your way through a whole jar of peanut butter. You just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go back to doing your best. Sometimes it helps to put someone else in control for a while.
You are the boss of you, and you should own your choices. But changing a deep-seated habit — like overeating on the weekend — is challenging. And just like your fat loss, the process of changing your habits will have ups and downs. Its a lifetime journey. It helps to have someone who will support and encourage you - a friend, a partner, or your trainer who will listen to you and keep you accountable. Good luck, I know you can do this.
e**The 5 BEST Exercises for RAPID & EFFECTIVE Fat Loss**
1. Track your daily calories.
2. Track your daily calories.
3. Track your daily calories.
Surprised? Disappointed? If you were expecting quick fix exercises I apologise. But heres the truth : its important that you understand that REAL progress takes a TON of effort (by you), time and patience. There is NO 21 day fix. There is no pill or potion that will burn fat or dissolve fat from your chosen areas and keep it off for life. There is NO fast track to success. And anyone who tells you or sells you that there is, is not being truthful.
NOTE: There are rare occasions when rapid fat loss methods might have a time and a place within a well designed nutrition plan. But these are not long term solutions or sustainable plans and I wouldn't recommend this for anyone with a history of dieting. disordered or emotional eating. They are not a quick fix, and at some point you need to switch to something that you can sustain and follow so that you can continue to make progress and maintain your weight in the long term.
In the Nutrition workshops we have been discussing about how tracking your nutrition (via MyFitnessPal) along with consistency & accountability is essential if you are in PROGRESS (i.e. Fat Loss or muscle gain) Mode or Maintenance Mode. Why? Because fitness & health is a life long process. No matter how lean or strong you are, there is always room for some improvement, more to learn and an option for a better you.
Thinking that you will be happy & fulfilled when you reach a certain weight or size is not practical. And its not how it works. Happiness isn't attached to a number on the scales. If you don't love or like who you are right now, it won't suddenly be different when you're xx kg lighter/lose the belly/reduce the cellulite.
Instead, get ready for a journey of ups & downs, highs & lows. The long haul. Because when you start the process to a Fitter, Healthier, Leaner & Stronger you, you're in it for life. And enjoy it! If you hate every second or can't wait to finish the 'diet' you aren't going to last.
So, what am I saying here. Whats the take home message?
Don't look for a quick fix. And don't sign up for a rapid results guaranteed programme.
Instead, identify your goal, commit to CHANGE, be prepared to put the effort in, consistently and be patient. And I promise you will see the RESULTS.
More coming ......
How big is your spoon?
One of the reason why I advise using MyFitnessPal to track your daily nutrition is because even if you're eating good quality, real, whole foods its still very easy to gain weight. Actually its also possible to eat crap food and lose weight if I'm being honest (although I would strongly advise against this method if your health is important to you). Either way, what I'm saying here is that ultimately if youre looking to drop body fat ratio and/or lose weight - it comes down to calories. The calories you consume on a daily basis (food & drink) vs the calories need to survive (NEAT, sleep, live & your activity level). Im a big advocate of eating REAL whole foods but you also need to be calorie conscious if you don't want to get fat. Simple. I can't just eat what I want, unlike many people would like to think, I have to nail both what I eat to fuel my busy lifestyle AND how much I eat to maintain the physique I own. The good news is that it IS POSSIBLE to eat a decent amount of good food every day, feel full & satisfied, feel strong and healthy. But portion control is the key. Some might call this will power, either way, it matters and its the difference between seeing the results and not. Take the picture above for case in point. a level tsp (15g) of Nut Butter is 94 cals. I sometimes add it to my greek yoghurt and it nicely rounds up my fats for the day. 1 heaped tsp of Nut Butter (30g) is around 188 cals, and this will push me over my daily maintenance calories, to the point where if I do this consistently, over time I will gain weight. So while I encourage including healthy fats in your nutrition, you need to be mindful of the portion size you're eating especially when you're goal is to lose weight! Its these kinds of incremental changes that can make BIG differences and sabotage your results. Its the equivalent of adding in an small, extra snack every day that you don't account for a food. Nut butters are often referred to as health foods, but eating a whole jar in a week is going to fuck up your fat loss, if you don't make allowances for the additional calories, which you probably wont. The reason I advise eating real food over snacks in general, is because you can eat much more food for the same number of calories, which means you're more likely to be satisfied and less likely to be miserable or binge. The take home lesson here is, when it comes to high calories treats, even if deemed 'healthy', be mindful about how much you eat and how often - stay accountable and then you will reach your goals without having to sacrifice or cut out the odds you enjoy.
From Cardio Queen to LEAN Machine...
When it comes to fat loss its important to establish your goal at the outset. If you don't have a destination that you want to get to, how can you expect to go in the right direction?? Once you have a clear idea WHERE you want to get to, its important to know where you are now, i.e. your starting point. Only when you have the two clear in your head, can you begin to map out what you need to do to get there. Destination CHECK - Current location CHECK - Route Map CHECK.
Taking the time to understand where you are now will help you to workout HOW you bridge the gap to get to where you want to be. Its no different to planning any journey - and one size approach doesn't fit all.
My recommendation is to change one or a few of your current behaviour /habits at a time from your current lifestyle. Do enough to make a change but don't try and do too much or you'll be less likely to succeed or stick to it for the long term.
GOAL ONE 'I WANT TO LOSE FAT & WEIGHT'
If your goal is to lose weight AND drop body fat then achieving a calorie deficit is key. If you are over weight for your size/age and also carrying a higher ratio of fat to lean body mass, your priority must be NUTRITION as number one. The best nutrition plan for you to follow is simply the one that you can stick to over the long term. Your training should simply support this goal and is the second priority after your nutrition. Move more (NEAT - see previous BLOG post), such as daily walking or do something formal that you enjoy. In the gym RESISTANCE training (lifting weights) should be your priority - not necessarily to burn calories but also to maintain lean muscle mass, as ultimately the more lean muscle you have the faster your engine/metabolism is to drop weight and help you get leaner.
GOAL TWO 'I WANT TO LOSE FAT AND LOOK MORE TONED'
If you want to lose fat and look 'more toned' it is all about improving you overall body composition. its possible for slim people to carry too much overall body fat ratio - often referred to as 'skinny fat'. You might have a healthy weight for your size/height and to the normal eye not look overweight but when you're naked you might have areas of stubborn body fat, often around the belly, upper arms. Dieting hard isn't the goal here. And doing more cardio activity or classes isn't the solution! instead you should follow a smart RESISTANCE training programme that challenges you. Focus on getting quality protein in your daily neutron to support our lean muscle building, help recovery and remove junk from the diet that is contributing to the fat deposits. Calorie wise aim for maintenance calories or just very slight;y below, nothing drastic.
GOAL THREE "I WANT TO BE THE BEST I CAN BE'
If you are small and light, not overweight with a petite frame, you might simply want to improve your overall fitness and improve how you feel about your body. Or you might have succeeded in dropping weight and reducing your body fat percentage and now want to continue to maintain the results. The key for you in the gym is lifting weights and progressive/steady over load. Your nutrition should support your training as fuel rather than the other way around. Eating enough for improved performance and progress is key! Build the engine for a fitter, leader, stronger and happier healthier life!
Remember whatever your personal GOAL, change is a process not a destination. Your goals will change over time and how you look/feel /perfrom will also evolve over the process as you continue to learn about yourself and progress in your training.
LOSE FAT & WEIGHT = calorie deficit + NEAT + lift
LOOK LEANER = calorie maintenance or small deficit + meet preen needs + less cardio more lift
MAINTAIN FOR LIFE = Lift + eat to fuel + meet protein needs for recovery