Friday, November 23, 2012

IIFYM vs other weight management strategies


First off, conventional crash / starvation dieting. We all know by now that this doesn't work. You might even know this from personal experience. By definition, when you talk about "going on a diet" the implication is that it is a temporary measure, and a temporary measure can only produce a temporary result... unless you count the actual long term result which is actually GAINING weight when you come off the diet.
There's about 8 million different versions I've seen people (coworkers when I was a corporate square) go on and off. Soup diets, yogurt diets, cabbage diets... the list goes on and on but they're all boil down to the same thing; eating as little as possible. Also known as "starving yourself to lose weight". Something we all shake our heads and say "oh isn't that terrible" when there's a story about teenage girls with eating disorders, but as grown adults we'll adopt the same unhealthy, unsustainable and self-destructive habits in order to shed some weight.
I've already talked about the VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) products as well, which also push this false notion of "eating as little as possible to lose weight". As I've said, it's not a good strategy for weight management in the first place, and it's a TERRIBLE idea if you are remotely interested in being healthy and / or happy.
Here's another article I've published about why conventional weight loss methods and in particular Very Low Calorie Diets are dangerous and ineffective. If you could give it a rating of "awesome" when you're done reading, that would be nice.
Since you're here reading about how to lose weight through sensible nutrition and exercise I'll go ahead and assume that you're not interested in these phony "quick fix" products anyway so we'll move right along.
What is IIFYM, anyway?
IIFYM stands for "If It Fits Your Macros". Macros being short for "macronutrients", better know as Proteins, Fats, and Carbohydrates. The idea is pretty simple; at the end of the day you are either (a) consuming the appropriate amount of calories (and appropriate ratio of Proteins, Fats and Carbs) or (b) you are NOT consuming the appropriate amount of calories to achieve and maintain your goal weight.
So when people might ask "is it OK to eat [insert particular food here] while I'm trying to lose weight?" the answer is "if it fits your macros". In other words, will eating that food mean that you end up consuming too many calories over all? If it won't, then it is OK.
There's an article on my business site about how to reach your goal weight with IIFYM dieting, so if you go and read that one it will save me from repeating myself too much here.
To summarise though... there's a lot of talk about needing to time your meals in this way or that way, not eat certain foods at the same time, not eat certain foods are particular times of the day, glycemic index and so on... let me put it to you like this:
Let's say I have a client who needs to lose 20kg to get down to our primary goal of BMI 23, which for the sake of example we'll say is 60kg. So I crunch the numbers and come up with a plan of 1700 calories with 40% from protein, 40% carbs and 20% fats which should be about right to support a healthy 60kg and get results from training. Now, you're trying to tell me that's not going to work unless she spaces her meals precisely 3 hours apart, and we can forget the whole thing if she eats a fucking potato after 4pm?
Ridiculous! If your body requires x amount of calories and you do not exceed that amount, it is going to utilise those calories regardless of what time of day you consume them. Especially when we're eating at a calorie deficit (ie - less than required to maintain current bodyweight), as if your body is going to say "wow I could really use this fuel for energy and recovery from that workout this afternoon, but it's late in the day so instead it goes straight to the love handles". Preposterous.
What about "clean eating" though?
Absolutely. If you're currently indulging in high calorie junk foods, and you "clean up" your diet by eliminating these and replacing them with more nutritious choices you are quite likely to lose weight. Of course no matter how "clean" you eat, too many calories is too many calories. And I must reiterate that too few calories is no better than too many. Personally I want to be certain. I want to do the maths and come up with a plan and be 100% confident of success.
The other issues with "clean eating" are that (a) it is such a vague and subjective term, and (b) people can get far too carried away with it and it becomes something more like orthorexia.
Remember; results come from what you do habitually.
This is important because it should take some of the stress and pressure out of dieting. If you are in the habit of consuming the right amount of calories to support your goal weight, the results will come. So having a small slice of cake at your friend's birthday party doesn't spell the end of your progress even though it might mean that you exceed your targets on that particular day. Even if you do go a bit overboard, as long as you get back on track the next day it is barely even a bump in the road.
Keep it in perspective.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Weddings and Weight Loss

Image by Craig Bourke Photography.
Used with permission.
Over the past week or two I've had a bit of a brain wave and been working on developing a program specifically aimed at getting people into the best possible shape in time for their wedding day. I have a habit of talking about "Weight Loss" because that's a huge slice of the potential market for Personal Trainers, but not everyone wants to (or needs to) lose weight. Guys might want to buff up a little bit, girls may want to to buff up a little bit too! Usually if people aren't actually overweight they use the term "tone up" which is a little vague, but perhaps best interpreted as "lose a little fat, gain a little muscle tone, just look sexier in general". Right?

When you think about it, when could you possibly be more motivated to look your best, than in preparation for your wedding day?

Especially for the ladies, you're going to find the perfect dress, the perfect hairstyle, perfect make up... let's hope you've got the perfect partner too. There should be an audible gasp from the guests when you first walk into the ceremony, at how amazing and beautiful you look. And then there's the wedding photos, you have to look amazing in those as well. What's more, I'm going to assume you're going to the beach on your honeymoon and you want to rock a nice new bikini for that.

That's starting to sound like a LOT of pressure but the good news is you have plenty of time to make it all happen. Working to a deadline is also an advantage, believe it or not. When you've got "forever" to do something, you're more likely to keep putting it off, right?

So here's what you need to create the body of your dreams in time for your wedding day.

  1. A Realistic Approach.
    Extreme methods that promise fast results are usually too hard to stick with, and the results are temporary at best. Remember, slow and steady wins the race and consistency is key.
  2. A Positive Attitude.
    This is true at any time, but if you see exercise as a chore and approach it with a reluctant attitude... that's not going to work out so well. Start looking forward to exercise as your chance to blow off whatever frustrations you've faced during the day, and enjoy that post-training endorphin rush that only comes from a good hard session.
  3. A Healthy Relationship With Food.
    Something else I have spoken a lot about lately. Maintaining a great figure at a healthy weight is not about avoiding food or starving yourself. Remember; the question is "how much delicious food can I enjoy while maintaining my goal weight?", not "what is the least amount of calories I can survive on?".
    Steer away from obviously bad choices of empty calories and you can actually enjoy a lot of nutritious food while getting great results.
  4. The Right Advice.As far as the finer details of training and nutrition, since you have a specific goal and a specific time frame, you do need a specific approach. Hiring a trainer who's business is based on delivering such results can only be seen as a wise move. If the trainer you are considering has a focus more on "physical entertainment" than actual results, you might want to shop around some more.
You can click here for information about Personal Training For Brides In Brunswick, and here's another of my listings about Personal Training for Weight Loss In Brunswick.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

More truth about diets

A controversial subject I have been writing about a lot lately. But when you think about it, diets have been a hot topic for decades now... ironically when I think about how long diets have been a hot topic, it seems to coincide with the amount of time concern over the increasing numbers of overweight and obese people as been on the rise. Since they're related topics it may not seem so ironic, until you consider that obesity is now at pandemic levels despite at least 30 years of public obsession with various diets. Clearly something is not right with this situation. These diets don't seem to be working.

Before we look at the current crop of popular or fad diets, let's take a brief look at dieting history over the previous decades.

If you're old enough, you'll remember when fats were considered the root of all evil, leading to all manner of health complications. Eggs were considered unhealthy, for example. Eggs! You would scarcely believe this now, 30 or more years later.

Things turned around in the late 90s / early 2000s when the Atkins Diet suddenly became a worldwide phenomenon. Where fats had been demonised in the past, suddenly carbohydrates were the problem and we were encouraged to get stuck into those fats instead, along with high protein from meats.

Somewhere in between (around 1985 to be exact) the Fit For Life diet was the big thing. Now, this one focused more on the timing and combinations of different types of foods, rather than on calorie counting. For example, eat nothing but fruit before noon, don't combine protein and carbohydrates in the same meal, and avoid dairy as much as possible.

There are numerous other fad diets with a variety of names and approaches. Meal frequency became the big thing for a while, and we were encouraged to eat small meals every 3 hours to "boost metabolism", amongst other things. The Glycemic Index became a focal point too, with faster digested carbohydrates being associated with fat gain due to increases in insulin levels, amongst other things.

Where are they now?

Mostly forgotten, right? These days when you see or hear these particular diets mentioned it is in the context of an "I even tried this, back in the day... hey everyone was doing it!" type list of failed weight loss attempts. Now to be fair, both Atkins and Fit For Life were designed to be long term solutions, so maybe if people had stuck with them long term they would have had long term success. I would speculate that most people merely tried the initial phase and then returned to their regular eating habits, meaning a return to weight gain.

What have they been replaced with?

This is where I get controversial.

I've already talked a lot about how I feel about Very Low Calorie Diets, meal replacement products, appetite suppressants and so on. I hate all of that garbage. Aside from not actually being a good strategy to maintain a healthy weight over the long term, these products send a damaging message that "food makes you fat", which I believe contributes to the increasing instances in eating disorders amongst young people.

Recently I've been made aware of a few of the currently popular diets put out by self proclaimed "obesity researchers" who I don't want to name in case I get sued... but it only takes a cursory glance at their websites to see that the extent of their research seems to be reading the Atkins and Fit For Life books, combining some of the incorrect concepts contained therein and putting it out again under a new name. I am going to lump all the ketogenic and "caveman" diets in under the "rebranded Atkins" label as well.

What's my issue with all of these diets?

Well, it's not so simple as to say that they don't work. Maybe if people stick to them consistently they will maintain results, but history has shown that most people are unable to do so.

Why? In my opinion; too many rules.

That's not the real issue though. The issue I have is that all of these diets promote the notion that certain foods "make you fat", or at the very least "stop you from losing weight". And we're not just talking about cakes and cookies here. Various of the so called paleo or "caveman" diets actually ban all legumes, for example. Of all the things, LENTILS make you fat now? Really? Other diets (Harcombe diet for example) actually recommend avoiding fruit, claiming that the sugar content will keep you fat. FRUIT? Can they actually be serious with this nonsense? It goes without saying that almost all of these diets are also intensely phobic of grains and bread in particular, for some reason.

All of these messages are entirely incorrect and irresponsible. As I talked about earlier, they encourage that dangerous "eating makes you fat" thought process that leads to eating disorders. I believe you cannot successfully manage your weight long term unless you have a healthy attitude towards food and enjoy a variety of foods in moderation. Being afraid or ashamed of eating is not healthy or helpful.

The bottom line.

Food does not make you fat. Calories are fuel that your body needs to function and thrive. Particularly for those who participate in exercise, you must be adequately fuelled to recover and adapt to training.

Regardless of the source of calories (protein, fat, carb, high GI, low GI or whatever) your body can ONLY store fat when the intake of calories is in excess of what is required to maintain your current weight and adapt to training. Back in primitive times such as the 1990s tracking your intake of calories may have been an arduous task leading to the rise of the restrictive "no calorie counting required" approaches we have discussed, but in the modern age of technology we have a myriad of choices of free resources at our fingertips that will do all the work for us. There is no excuse at all to be too lazy to do this!

Again I'll repeat the bottom line here, with an example.

Let's imagine that we have used the Mifflin - St Joer equation to determine that to maintain your current bodyweight (taking into account your daily activities and exercise schedule) would require 2300 calories... and then we only eat 1800 calories per day.... regardless of how much fruit (or whatever else) you eat or at what time, how can your body possibly store extra fat? Body fat comes from energy intake that is surplus to requirements, not from particular "bad" foods. And especially not from eating fruit!

A little plug just to finish up on: I just launched my brand new "Lose Weight, No Bullshit" FREE Weight Loss Education & Exercise Program, and if you check it out and read one article a day you be very well equipped to take control and make some amazing changes in terms of your health and body weight.