Featured Blog Content:

Showing posts with label diet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label diet. Show all posts

Dieting And Weight Loss; It's Time To Face The Facts

Real talk though; we need to face the facts about dieting for weight loss.

On any specific approach over the long term, more people are unsuccessful than are successful. On all approaches combined, more people are unsuccessful than are successful. However... while successful outcomes are the minority, they are not exclusive to any specific approach.

What can we observe or logically conclude about what enables a person to be successful with any approach to dieting?

I suggest the following:
  • They enjoy & have an appetite for enough of the included choices of food that they are satiated, or at least that hunger levels are manageable.
  • Total energy intake is far enough below "an excessive" level that would preclude fat loss, but high enough to avoid or mitigate adaptive thermogenesis aka "starvation mode" in the common vernacular.
     
  • Ideally they're including a suitable amount of reasonably healthful and nutritious choices, but some famous "stunt diets" you may have read about prove it could be done on just potatoes, twinkies, macdonalds, ice cream & whey... whatever. None of which I would personally recommend but it demonstrates an important point.
  • The eating habits they adopt fit in with their lifestyle & circumstances, and they're able to stay enthusiastic and not gravitate back towards their old habits.
  • So their are any number of overly simple answers but the reality is that for most people, success is going to be something that you have to decide upon and keep working on, on an ongoing daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, year in, year out basis. Therefore you want "the path of least resistance" in my opinion.

Now... people often attempt to 'splain to me that their personally prefered diet (usually LCHF) is "more satiating" and therefore preferable over brute force starvation approaches which work in theory but backfire long term due to the effects on metabolism.

You can refer to the above for what is wrong with this logic. It would be satiating IF you happen to enjoy enough of the foods that fit this eating style and happen to consume enough of them to meet that "adequate but not excessive" energy provision that results in weight loss without metabolic adaptation.

However if you DON'T happen to enjoy enough of those foods, then it actually does become a brute force deprivation based approach. I still don't really understand how people can be quite so low in emotional IQ that they can't grasp this concept.

ANYWAY let's wrap this up.

With the right guidance you could achieve that "adequate but not excessive, satisfied but not stuffed, weight loss without metabolic downgrade" eating pattern on ANY selection of foods without feeling afraid or guilty about ANY particular choices or needing to rule anything out (other than on specific medical grounds obviously).

That's what I teach people to do.
Share:

The Latest On Weight Loss, According To Science And My Observations

As fate would have it, quite a few interesting articles regarding research related to weight loss have come out in the past few weeks since I posted my "why we  should probably all stop offering weight loss coaching" article of a few weeks ago.

Now, unfortunately the fact remains that long term success with weight loss goals is a statistically unlikely outcome. Therefore I suggest that anyone making any promises about weight loss with the inference of "guaranteed" results is at best overly optimistic or at worst a damn dirty liar. Certainly though there are people out there who've lost weight and kept it off... so if you have a weight loss goal, and let's quantify that and say you have a permanent weight loss goal, what you probably want to be concerned with is figuring out where your best chances of success lie, and with avoiding the mistakes that all the unsuccessful people are making.

First let's talk about exercise. You should be doing some resistance training.

This is probably not news to anyone who has followed my various social mediums for more than a few minutes by now.

Resistance training is one of the best things you can do for your health, whether you have a weight related goal or not. Reiterating about 5000 of my previous entries though, and this is important so make sure you're paying attention this time, the purpose of resistance training is a lot less to do with "burning calories" and a lot more to do with inspiring your body to take up and put more energy and resources to use in supporting lean mass, ideally at the expense of fat mass.

So it's not just that you expend energy while training (although you do, and that's good) but that your body has something productive to do with the balance of energy that remains.

And by the way for what it's worth, it absolutely IS possible to gain lean mass at the expense of fat mass, especially for beginners but also even in more experienced athletes and enthusiasts.

Q: What's a good resistance training program for a client who wants to lose weight?

Exercise selection and variations in programming obviously will vary between individuals, but generally speaking the best resistance training program for a client who wants to lose weight is the same program that you would give her if she didn't want to lose weight... subject to her levels of confidence and proficiency at exercise.

Where most people with a "weight loss" focus will screw this up is by messing with the program, adding stuff in, leaving rest periods out, performing the whole routine as a super set or a circuit, and so on, with the idea that they "need to burn more calories to lose weight". So there's an obvious mistake you should decide right now that you will resist the urge to commit in future.

A couple of related links on this point:

Just a little more on the many benefits of strength / resistance training:

I may have digressed a little so peruse those additional links at your leisure. The first one may be especially pertinent to many of the people reading this entry.

Back to the main point as per the included image above, diet is key but resistance training will facilitate the best and most consistent results.

Paradox: Diet is the key, but "diets" don't work.

Diet is a contentious topic.

On the one side of the fence you have the people who insist upon some variation of the "all they have to do is stop eating crap food, cut out carbs, cut out grains, and eat clean" theme, and on the other side of the fence you have the people who insist "all that matters is that they are in caloric deficit". However, according to the International Journal Of Obesity, “it is now well established that the more people engage in dieting, the more they gain weight in the long-term”. So with one or two very rare, very notable exceptions, both camps are full of idiots.

Now I covered an abundance of evidence in this weight loss bullshit busting master post (not to mention all the other master posts), a while back... so rather than being redundant and repeat myself again and again, let's skip to the new stuff. Suffice it to say though, it's NOT about "clean eating" and it IS about "calories in, calories out", but it is NOT about "less and less and less calories in, more and more and more calories out".

At a certain point with such approaches... whether by deliberate caloric restriction or by omission of energy dense food choices to the effect of caloric restriction... all you are doing is training the body to manage the workload, rather than to actually benefit from training. It may be more accurate to say that you are training the body to require that level of workload (expenditure) at that level of restriction (intake) just to maintain a heavier and fatter condition, and if those levels are unsustainable then weight gain / regain will occur. As would appear to fit with the observation quoted earlier.

Again though, this has been a contentious topic. The majority of the "calories in calories out" crowd until very recently have insisted that there is no way for the body to adapt to prolonged and excessive levels of caloric restriction so as to preclude weight loss. Rather they would insist "if people are in deficit they see fat loss, if they're not seeing fat loss they're lying to you about how much they eat". 

Now since the Biggest Loser Study a year or so back, people in that camp have begrudgingly admitted that the body WILL adapt to prolonged calorie deficit and this WILL preclude further fat loss, but have continued to insist that the answer to this is simply to restrict even further into deficit and/or increase expenditure further with additional exercise & activity. I did mention that I think most of them are complete fucking idiots, didn't I?

Anyway. Increasingly, more and more evidence suggests that while fat loss IS dependant upon being in caloric deficit, we must work to appropriate levels of deficit where an expectation of adherence is not unreasonable, and where we are still providing sufficient energy and resources to benefit from training, and we must not restrict indefinitely but rather adopt a strategy of working at periods closer to metabolic capacity and at periods working from a greater level of deficit.

So, really that's almost exactly what I have been talking about for years... isn't it? 

Here are some links to relevant evidence:
Now... the approaches in each of those studies are different, but collectively in my opinion they more than sufficiently refute the "further into deficit (aka less calories in) always results in greater fat loss" doctrine as pushed by far too many halfwitted CI/CO & IIFYM proponents. 

Practical application of this information:

As coaches, as overweight or obese people, and even as fitness enthusiasts of non excessive weights, we need to be aware of and appreciate the paradoxical nature of things. To wit; an energy deficit is required to facilitate fat loss, but prolonged and excessive levels of energy deficit are associated with a higher body fat percentage in athletes and with greater long term weight gain in the overweight and obese. It is similarly ironic that when changes in body weight are seen as the most (or only) important outcome of an exercise program, we tend to adopt less effective approaches due to being overly concerned with "burning calories" and we are less inclined to pursue and appreciate the many benefits of productive activity.

Regardless of whether we are overweight and obese people or whether we are relatively lean and more active people, we need to move away from a "dieting" mentality where we glorify or consider necessary the arbitrary restriction of food choices, or over restriction of energy intake. We need to cease associating the suppression or ignoring of our bodies' hunger signals with discipline, will power or other strength of character and these virtues with the attainment and maintenance of a lean and healthy physical condition.

Rather, we should take an interest in learning and practicing a productive and beneficial approach to exercise and activity. We should practice regular, consistent, structured and varied eating habits to an appropriate but not excessive total energy intake. As per the links above, there may be some evidence to support the practice of eating more earlier in the day and less later on... but I would suggest whatever meal and snack schedule each individual finds convenient, appealing and sustainable to achieve "appropriate but not excessive total energy intake" by default without being too concerned about occasional divergences.

This could simply be described as practicing self care and healthy habits, and this alone should prove conducive to better physical and emotional health as well as a leaner condition, whether actual weight changes occur or otherwise.

For those who are enthusiastic to work more strategically to maximise their potential to see the most significant and sustainable results, the process should involve periods of working closer to a "maximal" level of intake representing metabolic capacity, and periods of working to a merely "adequate" level of intake which is at a significant deficit, but still suitable to a reasonable expectation of adherence, and to reap the benefits of training without resulting in comprised metabolic rate.

Please come and discuss this entry on my facebook page.
Share:

The belief about food that you need to change in order to see success.

So, here's an idea for a post that I've had for a little while... and I want to start by letting you know that it is partially an observation and commentary on the fitness industry, but it will have a conclusion that will not only be applicable to the general public, but actually could be of potentially life changing significance to serious fitness enthusiasts who struggle with the nutrition side of things.

This was inspired by something that came across my social media feeds last week which I don't seem to be able to find again right now, so perhaps I'll misquote this, but it got me thinking anyway. It was something to the effect of "how to change your client's belief systems about foods" so that they'll have good adherence, or... be successful... or something.

Now, this got me thinking because generally speaking, when you look into these things you tend to find that the "change in belief systems" actually infers adopting a lot of beliefs that don't quite stand up to scrutiny and aren't actually factual. These sorts of things are intriguing to me. It's easy enough to just write everyone off as a scam artist or a Pete Evans style delusional simpleton repeating a bunch of nonsense and trying to brainwash other people into believing it... but in some cases that would be a little unfair, as you have actually quite decent people with the best intentions of contributing positively to the industry by teaching valuable skills to aspiring professional coaches.

With all that said, the question remains: why is it that good and intelligent people would believe so passionately in things that just aren't factual?

Well, that was a long introduction so let's cut from the chase from this point on. Refer to my rather excellent flow chart below, and let's start at the top and then work down just the green boxes on the left hand side.



Pretty simple, right?

You read... oh, let's say you read "Good Calories Bad Calories" or you watch one of those food documentaries on Netflix, and it tells you "this is the problem, and this is the solution". Fortunately for you, your reaction happens to be "hmm... well, that seems to make some kind of sense, and doesn't sound too difficult to me, so I'll give it a go". And what do you know, it actually works and you actually see good results.

Fantastic. So, seeing results you have every reason to believe "obviously this works" and it's not unreasonable to extend that to "obviously this works, and it works for the reasons I have been taught. This is what everyone needs to do".
That'd be an understandable conclusion, but really... all we really know at this point is that it happened to suit you, and it happened to work. We don't necessarily know that it worked because what convinced you to try it in the first place was 100% factual.

Now let's back up though and we'll follow the chart but end up in some of those red boxes.

You hear about something or are instructed to do something by your coach, and you can see these other people very enthusiastic and having a good time with it. Maybe you think "ok that sounds easy enough", or maybe you think "this sounds awful, but fuck, what choice do I have if that's what it takes?". Either way, in this example, you give it your best shot, but for some reason you just can't seem to make it work.

Or... actually you know what? Maybe you don't even give it a shot because it sounds that awful and you're just that lacking in optimism about your chances of pulling it off. Contrary to the way a lot of the fitness industry seems to think, this can be entirely understandable. You're told a diet that is high in animal fats is required, and you want to be a vegan. Or you're told a grain free diet is required, but you love bread and cereal. Or you might even be told a vegan diet is required, but you love steak. Maybe you're just one of these people who only really likes a rather limited variety of foods and isn't very good at trying new ones. I'm in the minority but for whatever it's worth, I for one would not blame you for giving up without even trying under any of those or similar circumstances.

But in any case, in these red squares... either you're not enthusiastic and not able to adhere to it, you attempt to force yourself but it still doesn't work, or you were actually quite enthusiastic and you're pretty sure you're doing everything you've been told, but it's still not working. If you or your coach really believes "it you do this it works, if it's not working you're not doing it right, and it has to be done like this and no other way", then you're screwed. Especially if you're one of those unfortunate people who spent a lot of time mouthing off online about how stupid everyone else must be, and then found your condition going backwards no matter how much harder you tried to stay in ketosis, just saying.

Here's the wild card though. That other box all the way on it's own on the right.

Let's start again from the top. You get told about something and how great it is, it may or may not really make sense, it may or may not be based in reality, but either way you already have some other approach that you like, which is working out very nicely for you.

Now, for some reason... that's a situation that not many people in the online fitness world seem to be able to imagine. Think about it... how could two different people be doing two different things, and both of them successfully? How could someone think that is good, when I think this is good? Are they trying to insult me, or what?

Honestly, it gets so silly. But here's the thing.

As per what's in the green section of the chart, here's what we can assume about every person out there who is having a good time and maintaining improvements in condition.
  1. They have a decent approach to training that they get stuck into enthusiastically.
  2. They have an approach to nutrition that they believe is the best, that happens to suit them, and actually does consistently give them enough of all the energy and nutritional resources that they need to facilitate results, at least to the level at which they've achieved so far.
Also let's specify that we're talking about people who've maintained a degree of success for... oh, let's say five or more years. We're not talking about people who did some "miraculous transformation" for about half a season but then regained 30kg or something like that, and we're not talking about the people who will eventually come clean and confess that they were miserable the whole time either.

We can probably safely say that no one who has been successful long term was doing something that didn't appeal to them, that didn't suit them, that they hated, or that they forced themselves to believe in even though it didn't really seem to make sense. We can definitely say that they don't have the same approach, or even necessarily a similar approach to one another. And while many people will want to believe that there is a specific, scientific reason why their personally preferred approach is "the best" approach for anyone... if you like the approach, if the approach is working out for you satisfactorily, it should be enough just to be confident and to be enthusiastic about having found the approach that is best for you.

In short, the belief that you need to change is that there is ANYONE out there being successful by doing ANYTHING other than what happens to most appeal to them and what happens to best suit them. And if they try to tell you anything else, they're full of shit.

So, the take home point from all of this, for you.

For everyone out there saying, "but you can't do it unless you cut out grains and never eat cereal for breakfast or a sandwich for lunch again", there are people out there who are doing it while eating cereal for breakfast or whatever else. For everyone out there saying "but you can't do it on a vegan diet" there are some incredibly successful vegan athletes out there as well. The same goes for anything to do with the number of meals per day, the timing and frequency of meals across the day, the same again for any other, more elitist ideals about what people "need to" do, or what they should and should not want to do as far as their approach to nutrition goes as well.

Now obviously there are some technically concerns that come into this. Your dietary habits cannot be conducive to excessive energy intake if you expect to develop a leaner condition. At the same time, your dietary habits must provide an adequate total level of energy intake, and an adequate level of protein intake, to facilitate improvements in performance, recovery after training, and to maintain and increase lean mass. Also you need to get enough fibre, vitamins and minerals from some of the healthy stuff.

Aside from that? You require an approach that you're enthusiastic about, and are able to adhere to with a reasonable level of consistency. What better reason to be enthusiastic than because you truly believe it is best approach for you? What better reason to believe that, than because you have actually designed and continued to refine the approach to be what is best for you?
This is how I like to do it, the way that suits me best, and I'm more than happy with the results. How anyone else prefers to go about it is irrelevant. I have my own story. They aint me and this isn't their life.
Now, as coaches I believe it is fine to only offer one approach that you specialise in. I only offer one approach, and if someone tells me they're looking for something different, they're free to and in fact best to go looking for another coach who specialises in that, because I won't accept them as a client. But as coaches whatever we are telling people in support of our preferred approach should be truthful, and where applicable should be able to be supported by credible scientific evidence as well as every day observations. It shouldn't be bullshit that robs the people who aren't suited to that approach of the belief that they too can be successful.

Why not come and discuss this post with us on my facebook page?
Share:

Why I stopped coaching weight loss for a few years there.

This was originally posted under another title on the old blog. A title that is no longer accurate since I'm now offering weight loss strategies again. Read on and it will all make sense, hopefully.

This is more complicated than you probably think.

People tend to want everything broken down into just one slogan or soundbite that either suits their biases or that they find easy to argue against. The reality is, there are a lot of angles to cover here. I'll do my best to cover them all within a reasonable word count, but I make no promises on that last part.

Now that that's out of the way, let's get started.

For reasons that will hopefully become apparent, I'm actually going to start with the conclusion, and the conclusion is actually a paragraph borrowed from something I posted on instagram the other day, as follows:
More than ever, the longer I do this and the more people I work with as a professional coach, the more I truly believe that our focus needs to be on simply enjoying the physical challenge of productive training, and enjoying the intellectual challenge of working to a productive fueling strategy, as well as assessing your physiological and psychological responses to each as you learn to do more of what keeps you strong, healthy & happy, and to reject whatever doesn't.
That sounds great, but what's the problem with wanting to lose weight?

Well I'm glad you asked. First of all though, that headline at the top of the page doesn't translate to "I don't want to coach fat people" or anything silly like that. Also, I always object to anything that gives anyone a message to the tune of "you might as well not bother trying, just accept that where you are is where you're supposed to be", so that's definitely not my point either.

Obviously I've helped people to lose weight successfully in the past. Clients, other people who follow my pages and put the pieces together for themselves. Some with medical conditions such as autoimmune diseases. Some who got on top of a restrict, binge & purge type eating disorder and lost weight. Some who rather generously credit me with facilitating a "life saving" level of weight loss.

A handful of fast facts about diets and weight loss:
  1. All diets work for the same reason; they create a caloric deficit.
    Whether people are aware of the amount of calories or whether due to restriction of food choices, any changes in dietary habits that result in weight loss infer a caloric deficit.
  2. Different named diets, low carb approaches, balanced approaches... when the energy and protein provision is matched, the clinical evidence suggests there is little if any difference in the results of different approaches. So there is not just "one correct" or "one best" set of eating habits we should all adopt.
  3. Regardless, the statistics are that over the long term there is no approach that has a high success rate. People tend to regain the weight.
  4. In fact, according to the International Journal Of Obesity; "it is now well established that the more people engage in dieting, the more they gain weight in the long-term."
So, what is the problem then?

Well that depends.

In theory, you make changes in dietary habits resulting in a caloric deficit. You lose weight, and so long as you do not revert back to habits resulting in a caloric surplus you should not regain the weight. Therefore the simple explanation is that the problem is down to continuance of adherence. Or so it would seem.

As an example, here's how it is supposed to work, and for that matter actually does work.

Imagine I have a new personal training client who is a younger woman and let's say 5, 10 or 15kg overweight due to not being in the habit of being active, and perhaps in the habit of over indulging a little too often. As a competent and responsible trainer, I get her started with a decent, strength based training program, and the appropriate energy targets at a suitable level of deficit and with a reasonable margin for error. If she follows my instructions with some level of consistency she'll certainly lose weight as she develops a more athletic condition.

Assuming she then maintains her interest in training and does not revert to an excessive energy intake, she should not regain any weight. That's how it works in theory anyway. I want to move on but first let's just acknowledge that what I've described is not really a "weight loss approach" the way most people would go about it.

So, whether it is working to a caloric deficit, whether it is sticking to this particular diet and this particular set of foods... if the people continue to do it, it would continue to work, right? You'd like to think so. So why don't people just keep doing it?

Reasons for non-continuance of adherence:

There could be any number of reasons and I'm not forgetting that mere complacency or even delusion are two of them, but it would be a flagrant cop-out to pretend that those are the only reasons and therefore absolve trainers & health coaches from their obligation to provide approaches that are feasible and efficacious over the long haul.

In simpler terms, I'm asking you just humour me and consider entertaining the mere possibility that people sometimes lose motivation because the approach has stopped producing results, or simply because the approach is impractical and any expectation of continued, long term adherence was entirely unreasonable.

Weight loss dieting tends to be of an extreme variety, either with strict low calories, strict food exclusions, or both. Strict adherence would prohibit ever going out to eat socially, visiting your parents for a home cooked meal, having a takeaway night or ordering home delivery. These approaches tend to be temporary by design, and as discussed, the long term consequence is greater weight gain.

With that in mind and getting back to my hypothetical client we described earlier, if we focus on developing an interest in a productive approach to training, we can expect weight loss. However if we focus on weight loss and my instruction is a low carb, low cal, clean eating style of extreme and restrictive diet, as well as high intensity activity "to burn calories"... any expectation of continued long term adherence is overly optimistic at best, any weight loss is temporary at best, and the long term consequence would be weight gain, a worsened relationship with food, and likely a decrease in enthusiasm for exercise as well.

In the case of a second new client of a higher and more excessive weight, it is very likely that their current weight is actually the consequence of previous attempts at weight loss perhaps over a period of years or even decades, and this is the outcome we wanted to avoid with the first hypothetical client. For this reason, it would make no sense at all to give them more of the same now. It would make no sense to take an attitude of "we need to lose weight first" via the same restrictive and unproductive approaches.

There are benefits to any amount of activity over being inactive, and benefits to getting out of restrictive dieting and developing more consistent, structured and appropriate eating habits and a healthier relationship with food. When the type of activity resembles some form of what we might describe as "productive training", in a more overweight or obese client we can expect significant decreases in measurements as the body begins to better ultilise energy and resources in support of lean mass at the expense of fat mass, as well as numerous other health benefits.

Here's the curious thing. While seeing significant results in fat loss you'd expect to see confirmation of this when weighing in on the scales, but the reality seems to be that this is not always the case right away. What a pity it would be to fail to value or appreciate the good results in fat loss, strength and performance at training, improved health markers and the rejection of restrictive dieting, just because the scales do not confirm these results with the corresponding loss of body weight.

There's more though. 

To wrap up and reiterate, by developing an interest in productive training and with suitable sports nutrition guidance there will be certain client profiles where weight loss is very likely, certain client profiles where weight loss could be expected but cannot be guaranteed, and let's not forget there will be some for whom weight loss should not be seen as an acceptable outcome at all.

My observation is that when people are focused on and overly concerned with weight loss per se, even when given a good and productive approach to training and the appropriate instruction, the tendency will be to sacrifice the efficacy of the training strategy by falling back into weight loss type behaviours and mindsets as previously described. For example, making changes or additions to the training program "to burn more calories", and to skip meals or otherwise fall short of the prescribed levels of fueling that are required to facilitate any sort of results.

Ironically, it will be the very things that people feel compelled to do because they "are trying to lose weight" which ultimately prevent them from reaping the many benefits of a sensible and productive approach to training.

While there's absolutely nothing wrong with having body composition and condition related goals, we must pursue them with sensible, effective and productive approaches and attitudes, and resist the social conditioning that sees us more inclined towards the extreme, destructive and ultimately futile methods typically associated with trying to lose weight.

Come and let me know what you thought of this post, on my facebook page.
Share:

Ending the unhealthy obsession with calorie deficit.

Always take a selfie.
I'll try to make this as clear as I can. Calories In / Calories Out is definitely a thing, but people need to STOP worshiping this idea about "calorific deficit", because it's stupid.

Now, don't get me wrong... and in fact I'll address this pre-emptively before the inevitable strawman attacks start: you cannot lose fat in a calorific surplus. If you take in more calories than you can put to use, that energy gets stored as body fat. Calories from any source as well, mind you.

However... the EMPHASIS on being in calorific deficit is all wrong. Note how I used to capital letters to emphasise the word emphasis just now. I'm not saying "take people out of deficit". I feel like I can't just say what I'm saying any more, I have to specify what I'm not saying as well, every paragraph or so. I'm going to go ahead and predict that a few people will still miss that and make stupid comments all the same once I share this to facebook.

Why not focus on being in deficit though?

As a profession coach and trainer and a specialist in Flexible Dieting with an interest in eating disorder awareness, recovery and avoidance, I've had active and athletic people come to me on... one particular example that I have in mind is a female athlete who came to me a few years back on 1300 calories a day and quite unhappy. She is now well aware that she REQUIRES a 3000 calorie a day minimum in order to see best results and performance at training, and to remain injury free.

That's something of an extreme example with very high fueling requirements, but it is quite common for me to reverse diet a female athlete from as low as 1100 or even 900 calories per day all the way up to 23, 2400, maybe 2600 calories per day subject to the amount they actually require to facilitate good results at their level of prowess at training.

Predicting an amount that is in deficit is easy. Literally, it's any amount that's less than would support current mass (including fat mass) and activity levels. All of these programs and diets where you just have an arbitrary amount like 1200 calories to restrict to, that's just about being in deficit and it's stupid. Some "macro plan" that doesn't end on a round number? Also stupid. Those "these are the only foods you're allowed to eat" type plans? They're not even smart enough to understand that how you'd lose weight on that plan is because you would be in deficit.

Now, on a personal level, "I just eat these foods and avoid those foods" is fine if people are happy with the food choices they're making and the results  they're seeing. I don't mean to insult people for not having a working knowledge of nutrition... other than the ones who are trying to enforce those choices onto others, and especially if they're charging money for it.

I have digressed. Where was I?

Picking an amount that is in deficit is easy, but it's not what is good.

As a coach who is giving sports nutrition advice, you need to be focused on how much people require, AKA how much they can utilise. That is, how much they can put to good use to fuel performance, to recover, and to adapt to training with the creation of lean mass. FKN IDIOTS WHO ARE BOUND TO SHOW UP TO TRY ARGUE WITH ME PLEASE NOTE: "how much they can put to use" does not translate to "a calorific surplus that would preclude fat loss", no matter what way you try to twist it.

Going back to those examples of mine from eariler: As a coach, you're never going to find out that your athlete requires 2400 or 2800 or 3000+ calories per day while you're thinking "results come from being in deficit, if you were in deficit you'd be seeing results". You won't have the BRAINS OR THE BALLS to raise their targets that high, so long as you're still married to and they're still enslaved by this brain dead notion of being focused on "calorific deficit". Rather, you're likely to slash intake targets even lower, clutch at straws about "not eating clean", or accuse the client of lying about their intake. These are the sort of things I keep getting told about, anyway.

Understand this: Not seeing fat loss does not necessarily automatically infer that you are "not in deficit" or that eating more would mean "going into surplus". While in deficit, tapping into fat stores is only one of many adaptations the human body might make and not necessarily it's preferred option. The further you go into deficit of an adequate amount, the less energy and resources the body will make available for other functions in order to preserve those fat stores.

Bottom line? If you're an athlete (and by this I mean anyone training with an interest in improving performance and body composition) you need to be fueled in a manner to facilitate performance and maintain condition. You can't build or maintain lean mass without making those resources available.
If you're a coach... if you're a trainer, train people and fuel them for results. We're supposed to be qualified professionals, stop trying to starve people thin with the same sort of logic I'd be dismayed to read on some kind of pro-ana blog.

You're not doing IIFYM if all you're doing is calculating a deficit, much less if you're just slashing further and further below some arbitrary amount.
Share:

I don't do meal plans. I do Custom Flexible Dieting Guidelines.

Pretty average photo from training
yesterday. I thought my shoulders were
looking good though.
I just don't, and I won't no matter how much someone asks or how much they offer to pay me. I just don't feel comfortable telling other people what to eat. The idea stresses me the hell out, to be honest.

If you really do want a meal plan via me, I will crunch the numbers as I always do via my Flexible Fueling system and then forward those guidelines to a real dietitian to talk to you about your food choices. I haven't had one for a while, but I do still from time to time get told "no I want you to do it"... well, that aint gonna happen.

Now if you were considering looking for a meal plan online, or if you were looking to hire a trainer who'll tell you what you are allowed to eat and what you are not allowed to eat, here's what I think you should keep in mind.

What makes for a good meal plan?

Purely from a nutritional point of view, a meal plan is good if it provides everything that you need and no excess. So enough total energy, enough protein, fiber and a good spread of micronutrients suitable to maintain good health, an appropriate weight range, and good performance and results at training.

That's what you need in a meal plan purely on nutritional grounds.

A lot of the time you might see meal plans on offer from trainers or even less qualified "wellness guru" types, and they're kind of a one size fits all proposition with a bunch of healthy foods listed, and the inference is that since they're all healthy foods it's a good plan and you'll be getting everything you need. This is often far from the case as just throwing together a list of "healthy foods" in no way ensures meeting an adequate energy intake for performance at sport or adequate protein for adaptation to training.

Often this is the case with "clean eating" type plans for sale or available for free online. There is simply no consideration given to energy and protein requirements, and they may fall dangerously short of a suitable amount for an active person. Anyone can throw together a list of healthy foods... and most of the time that's all you're getting. A list of healthy foods and perhaps another list of other foods that are banned for no legitimate reason is a long way from being a decent sports nutrition plan that will ensure results. It is probably the opposite.

Now assuming you do have a plan to meet your individual requirements in terms of total energy, protein, and plenty of vitamins and minerals via healthy & nutritious choices, that's great. However, there is more to a good meal plan than simply being nutritionally appropriate.

A good meal plan is one that not only delivers everything that you require, but even more importantly is one that you can stick to long term. A plan that has designated meal times or meal frequency that does not suit you as an individual, you won't stick to for long. A plan that includes mostly foods that you find unappealing, you won't stick to for long.

If you're anything like me and a lot of other people, if you don't like the foods you probably won't even attempt the plan. Because you know it is unworkable. Assuming you do try, you're likely to put off eating for as long as possible and then end up having something else instead and probably way too much of it. Or you might force yourself to try the scheduled meal and lose your appetite half way though as you're not enjoying it. This would mean either you go underfueled defeating the purpose of having a plan in the first place, or again you end up ravenous at some point later on and over eat something that isn't on the plan.

None of this is conducive to good results or to a good relationship with food.

This is a very simple point that seems to baffle a lot of people who for some reason believe they are in a position to give advice to others.

A plan that is "good" in terms of providing everything that you need is worthless if it is not conducive to enthusiastic adherence. If it is unworkable due to meal schedules or food choices... it might be a good plan for someone else, but it's not a good plan for you. The plan needs to fit the person. It is not a failing on your part if you can't force yourself to work with an unworkable situation.

Now if this plan does indeed provide all of the nutritional resources that you require, the assumption is that we actually know what those requirements are. What amounts of various resources such as total energy, protein, fiber and so on. If the person providing the plan can't tell you what those are, then it's just a stab in the dark and they are full of shit. We don't know your requirements, we don't really how much this plan provides... but it's all good food so obviously it does provide exactly the amount you require and no more or less. 

That's unreasonably optimistic, in my opinion.

Certainly though, a competent professional (such as myself) can determine those requirements with reasonable accuracy. So, rather than a plan that is basically an "eat it, it's good for you" proposition that may or may not deliver everything that you need, we can plan to meet all of those nutritional requirements with a variety of our preferred choices of foods that will be suitable to long term adherence. More to the point, we can also create a new plan whenever we feel like it, based on whatever foods we feel like eating that day.

Obviously you can't just abuse the concept and still expect to end up meeting all of your targets, but with a little planning and preparedness you most certainly can produce great and sustainable results with whatever choices of foods best suit you.

This is what Flexible Dieting and IIFYM is all about. In my Flexible Fueling system, I give you the targets and simple guidelines to assist you to build your own plan that you'll be enthusiastic and optimistic about sticking to.

And it's pretty easy.

Share:

If It Fits Your Maths

Share:

Why do people get fat? Because it's easy.

I have had a few ideas for some articles recently, but I've felt kind of disillusioned at the moment like trying to talk sense just gets lost in all the noise and idiocy that is rampant everywhere else.

I had this idea though for a "why people get fat" article.

Everyone's looking for like a "root cause" like it's a mystery. We argue about whether the issue is with total calories or with choices of foods irrespective of calories... and then there's some bizarre ideas going around about "over eating doesn't make people fat, being fat causes over eating" and so forth. Crazy.

There are borderline orthorexic theories as if certain foods are impossible to not over eat, crap about sugar being "more addictive than cocaine", and nonsense about certain foods instantly being stored as fat just because they're "bad" for some reason due to being processed, or transported long distances, or including GMOs or whatever.

All nonsense and taken to extremes, potentially harmful as people start to get neurotic about which choices of foods are "ok" and which ones aren't. Don't get me wrong though, it's a good thing that people are considering the underlying, root causes and trying to treat the cause rather than just the symptom.

So then. Why do people get fat? 

BECAUSE IT'S EASY.

It's easy to get fat. Most of us have no need to perform any strenuous activity or even move around much in our daily lives. Therefore a "normal" amount of food is enough to make you gain weight. It's easy to consume a way above normal amount too if you're not a little bit mindful especially in regard to snacking and choice of beverages.

It's no mystery. We get fat because it is easy and truthfully, unless you take a few steps to make up for an otherwise inactive modern lifestyle, it's not just easy... it is the most likely outcome.

The issue IS with total calorific intake. You can either resolve this by limiting your choices of foods to ones with a really good satiety to energy content ratio (meaning they fill you up without a lot of calories),  or by simply planning to meet your requirements with appropriate (and therefore non excessive) amounts of whatever foods you fancy.

You'll be well aware by now that my preferred course of action is the latter. Since appropriate calorie intake is the key, you might as well ensure success by determining and planning to meet your requirements. I see the other option as something of a shot in the dark, and if you don't see the expected results you're really left guessing as to what adjustments you need to make. Are you making all the most wise choices of foods, but still eating too much of them? Or are you making all the most sensible choices of foods, but with a total intake that is insufficient, forcing your body to compensate and conserve energy? It's certainly not down to any one off individual choice of a more indulgent meal, although this is what people tend to assume, leading to more of that neurotic fear of "unclean" foods that we touched on earlier.

So then. What to do?

It's pretty simple. Sort of.

An excessive intake of energy above the amount you require will result in excessive weight via increased body fat. Therefore, simply consume an appropriate amount rather than an excessive amount.

There's a problem though. This will work, but it's not terribly efficient. In most cases people have gained weight gradually, almost without noticing. When trying to lose weight, we want to see consistent results, or we lose interest.

Bigger problem. You have psychological needs as well as just energy and micronutrient requirements. On a total intake suitable only for an inactive lifestyle, there's just not enough room in the plan for much indulgence or enjoyment. We can address this somewhat by increasing activity levels, but simply by "moving more" we're still left with a fairly inefficient strategy that it isn't much fun to stick to.

So then. What to actually do?

The same thing I always say. We need to do more than just "move more", and apply some strenuous effort in the context of a more strategic training program. A program that is designed to promote the increase and maintenance of lean mass... specifically increased bone density and muscle tissue, at the expense of body fat stores.

Following a program such as this, your energy requirements are increased significantly, and continue to increase as you make progress and improve performance at training. Within these requirements there is plenty of room to base your nutrition plan on the choices of foods you enjoy, secure in the knowledge that all of the resources those foods provide will be utilised to good effect in building your healthy, athletic goal body condition at goal weight.

Share:

Weight Loss For Idiots

I'm trying to organise my thoughts well enough to write some new articles. I have a couple of ideas for topics, and here's one of them.

I read a comment last night which I can't find right now... but a guy was some kind of exercise science student and he was saying the whole premise everything is based is that people are fat lazy idiots and if you simply tell them "here's how it's done" they won't have what it takes, so you have to keep inventing new "tricks" and fads and whatever else, and hope that at best there might be a slight benefit / marginal increase in health from the week or two that they adopt whatever the latest thing is.

So, that's quite offensive right? I mean.. the bloke was making an observation, he wasn't agreeing with it. It's an accurate assessment though.if you look at the products, methods and half baked nonsense the media, elements of the weight loss industry, and the mainstream fitness industry push on people.

Fad diets, meal replacements, burn more calories with this gadget, pill, or product... none of that garbage is going to get people into healthy shape.

The real story is pretty simple:
  • Eat the right amount for your healthy goal body type.
    Not too much and not too little, and try to include more nutrient dense, natural foods.
  • Train strategically and methodically for about an hour a day.
    Note the difference between this and "exercise to burn more calories". 
  • Get enough sleep, and manage your stress levels. 
That's all it really takes.

On the subject of nutrition... there are people out there who'll tell you it's not so simple as "just eat the right amount", but it actually is. Generally speaking, the people who push the low carb, no carb or "clean eating" (aka orthorexia, if you ask me) plans are not actually qualified nutritionists. They may be in shape, or they may have impressive qualifications in some other field... but actual nutritionists recommend a balanced diet sourced from all macronutrient groups, including some food that is just for enjoyment. There have been uncountable numbers of people throughout history (and still to this day) who have maintained a healthy weight range without avoiding carbs or adopting any of these other restrictive measures. Contrary to what these charlatans attest to, the evidence does NOT support a need for anything other than a moderate, flexible approach to nutrition.

So in actual fact it is a very simple equation, but apparently you can't sell the message "eat right and train hard"; you have to dress it up, offer some quicker fixes with fast temporary results and so on.

Is it really because people are stupid and lazy though?

Well... not necessarily. Not in my opinion anyway, but perhaps they are pessimistic. It doesn't help that there are so many advertisements and talk show segments on the TV suggesting that any amount of serious physical training is an unlikely and unreasonable expectation that aint nobody got time for. Instead it's "what if getting into shape could be as easy as sitting in a chair". For fuck's sake.

It doesn't help either, with so much conflicting disinformation about diet that people give up on that and say "it's all too complicated, I'll just starve myself instead".

I've written before about the measures that should be taken in order to address the obesity epidemic, including a code of conduct the tv and print media need to adopt. This should be legislated as well, to the effect that any segment or advertisement related to weight management must be along the lines of "to manage your weight, you must consume an appropriate range of calories and stay active. Here's our product which is one way to do this". Any of the usual "you can't do it unless these special conditions are met" type messages should be banned as being dangerous and damaging to people's health.

The underlying issue isn't even about nutrition, education or exercise. At the root of the problem is... I won't go so far as to say a mental health issue.... but... well look at it this way; These weight loss products and segments on tv treat people like lazy idiots. “oh no one is gonna actually do exercise, or eat sensibly… luckily here’s this thing that lets you lose weight just as easy as laying back on the sofa”. And people AREN’T all offended like “hey I might be a bit fat - but I'm not stupid” when they see that.

The issue behind the obesity crisis isn’t even anything that people usually talk about… the issue is, how are people so disempowered, so low on self belief that the idea of “eat an appropriate amount of your choice of foods + choose some serious but enjoyable form of exercise for about an hour a day” is out of the question. Like, that’s an entirely unreasonable thing to expect a full grown, otherwise intelligent & responsible adult to be able to do?

On a somewhat related note, here's a short video talking about the economic cost of obesity, and how financially disadvantaged people are more at risk.
Share:

My Free Weight Loss Program, now over 20,000 served!

This is GREAT!

Actually I'm a little ahead of myself, but the counter is about to tick over to 20,000 views before the end of the day, or by the time I get out of bed tomorrow morning at least. We're now averaging about 340 a day. That's AMAZING to me.

The first weight loss success stories are already online, and I get at least a couple of messages every day from people who love my articles. It feels good to be helping people! It's helping me too, of course. It feels good knowing that there is a change going on out there, and more and more people are starting to look for real solutions, looking to get educated, and are prepared to take positive action to create the life that they want and deserve.

So, the health and fitness revolution is here. People are sick of hearing about "tricks" to lose weight. They know that restrictive diets and food avoidance is not the answer. They're seeking out more positive role models, more supportive and encouraging social networks, and getting inspired. They're starting to believe in their potential to succeed and achieve physical goals that might have seemed way too ambitious in the past.

And that means more people are training PROPERLY. Like THIS:



Pay close attention you will notice my logo on that tank top!

Who is this program for though?

The program is for anyone who wants to cut out the bullshit and just focus on what will actually produce the results they want to achieve. So far my best successes have involved people who were already training, already watching what they ate, already putting in the effort... but not quite seeing the results. Maybe they were stuck in a plateau after getting some results earlier on... in almost all of these cases, the results have come not from doing any EXTRA, but by changing the focus a little. A bit more of this, a bit less of that, perhaps with a better structure more conducive to results as well.

In probably... I don't know... there's only been maybe two or three cases at the most where I haven't actually INCREASED the range of calories per day for most people, as well.

So.. that's for people who have been following some other strategy with limited success. But even if you are BRAND NEW this program is for you. Even more so, it means I don't have to de-program you from whatever bad advice you've been fed in the past.


Share:

The one simple weight loss trick that guarantees results every time

Use this one simple, revolutionary trick for
 amazing fat loss results like this!
Unlike other sites, this is actually one of my clients
and not just a couple of photos I stole from the internet.
I already took the piss out of those "one simple trick I stumbled onto" websites over on my other (other other) blog. You know the ones. I think about 90% of all the ads I see on the web have that as the tag line, or something similar. One simple trick, latest breakthrough by Chinese scientists, whatever else. It's always a load of garbage.

There's a reason why they market like that though. For one reason or another, that's what most people are looking for. Some "trick" that's going to solve all of their problems without any effort, inconvenience or change in habits or lifestyle. Just throw these berries in with your breakfast, or take this pill before meals, or whatever. Usually something ridiculous, and most of them use an identical approach, sales pitch and website. For that matter there are virtually identical websites for "how to pick up chicks", "how to regrow your hair", and who knows what else. I saw one about wrinkles today as well. All with the same "I couldn't believe how easy it was with this one simple trick" voice over, and the same "wait are you sure you really want to exit?" popup when you realise you've heard all this before.

It's a problem when the supposedly reputable websites will run the ads to these scam products. My Lose Weight, No Bullshit website gets slammed with traffic every day, so it would be nice to make a couple of bucks with some ads on there... but how can I be talking about scam free, healthy weight loss and then have a "5 foods to never eat" banner on the side?

Oh yeah, the "5 foods to never eat"... that's another one, isn't it?

That's the same thing again, right? The idea that there's some simple little tip or trick that'll take care of everything else. I still get rather a lot of similar enquiries... "I'm not losing weight, could it be because of this?" trying to pin the blame on one individual, particular habit. It's not like they're saying "triple chocolate chip double chocolate icecream chocolate mud cake" or something either, something clearly packing a shittonne of calories that you shouldn't be eating habitually outside of special occasions or rare treats. Usually it's something quite innocuous. In some cases morons who should know better will be talking about perfectly normal, actually quite nutritious foods and telling people "oh, you want to lose weight? Don't eat too much fruit, it has sugar init", for example. OOOH. 

So all of this stuff is terrible, right? The scammers should be banned from doing business, the reputable sites should refuse to run ads with unhelpful messages that link to these scam websites, and the media should stop running stories on any and every fad diet and making them seem credible. 

Especially when it goes beyond simply "not working", and many of these fad or gimmick diets are seriously unhealthy and damaging both to physical health as well as mental health through encouraging eating disorder style food avoidance. I've written about this at great length in the past, but the bottom line is that if you're actually interested in helping people, you don't offer up half baked quick fixes and false hope.

You know what though? The irony is that there actually IS one simple trick that will absolutely ensure success in losing weight. I have built my online fat loss coaching system around this one simple tip and it means that I can tell people with absolute certainty that they will hit a particular, specific goal weight by the end of the 12 week program.

Unless you're new you already know what I am going to say, because I say the same thing in almost every entry. Simply: consume the amount of calories appropriate to maintain your healthy, goal weight.

Now, I'll bet about half all people reading this just sighed like "ughhh, is that it? I thought he had an actual trick I could use", right? One time I even had an idiot reblog me on tumblr like "eat the right amount? That's it? That's your revolutionary break through idea? Like no one ever thought of that before!"

Before you dismiss the idea though, honestly answer the following questions:

  1. If you actually did consume the right amount, can you think of a single reason why you would not end up at your healthy goal weight? 
  2. Is there really any reason why you would not be able to eat the right amount if you decided to? I didn't say "starve yourself", either. The right amount is "enough but not too much".
  3. If you're NOT eating the right amount, how fantastically magical would any "trick" have to be to make up for this and get you to your goal weight and body type?
There you have it. Determine a suitable and healthy goal weight range, then figuring out about how many calories will be required to maintain it, and then spend maybe 15 - 20 minutes making a meal plan that fits your schedule, based on foods you like, and exercise for about an hour a day.

It's simple and the only trick you need.

Stop wasting your time with junk products and gimmick diets, and use the proven, sensible methods used by thousands of successful people instead.

There's plenty of information about my program right here on blogspot, or you can head straight to the brand new Flexible Fueling domain to sign up for VIP Access.


Share:

Is it ok to eat fruit when you are trying to lose weight?

You'd be amazed how often this question comes up, and it doesn't help that there are "trainers" out there who give the wrong answer. I've even heard of people talking about carrots and other vegetables "having too much sugar".

Absolutely fucking ridiculous. I'm swearing because it actually makes me quite angry.

People need to have a healthy relationship with food. Obviously eating large amounts of sugar laden junk food is not good, but we're talking about fresh fruits and vegetables here. They're quite literally the best, healthiest things you can possibly eat.

So here's a little video I made to really spell this out once and for all.



There's a similar video (I shot a few different takes) on the Lose Weight, No Bullshit weblog which is all about losing weight while eating fruit, or whatever else you like.
Share:

Common sense look at IIFYM, continued.

Read the previous entry first, it's all about the If It Fits Your Macros approach to nutrition planning for weight loss.

For long term results, all diets either succeed or fail due to providing the appropriate amount of calories. I always talk about “appropriate to maintain your goal weight” to rule out unhealthy over restriction, but as long as you are consuming less than is required to maintain your current weight, you will lose weight.

Regardless of absolutely everything else, at the end of the day you're either getting the right amount or you aint. It really is that simple.

Well... almost.

Appropriate calories is the top priority, but we also need to pay attention to the ratio of calories from protein, carbohydrates and dietary fats as well. Contrary to popular belief, all of these macronutrients are important, although ideal ratios will vary from one person to the next.

By now you can probably imagine how this theory on nutrition got its name. Someone asks “I'm trying to lose weight, is it OK to eat [insert particular food choice here]?”, and the answer invariably is “if it fits your macros”. In other words, if overall intake is suitable to fuel, recover and adapt to exercise while maintaining your goal weight, individual choices of foods do not matter.

Now quite often the particular food that they might be asking about is a perfectly healthy, normal choice of foods that there's no good reason to avoid. With that being said though, even the healthiest foods will cause weight gain if eating them means that you end up consuming more calories than are necessary to maintain your current weight. Similarly, even a less healthy food choice will not cause weight gain unless you exceed your maintenance level of calories.

So, does this mean people can eat junk food and still lose weight?

It depends. Junk food tends to pack a lot of calories into a small amount of food, and usually those calories are predominately from sugars or fats. Junk food also has that addictive quality where (if you're anything like me) even though you say “I'll just have one”, you end up going back for another 6, or until there's none left. So, while it's possible to include some food purely for enjoyment rather than for nutritional content, it makes it a lot harder to end up meeting your targets for overall calories and macronutrient ratios at the end of the day.

Why IIFYM is the logical choice for weight loss.

OK! Going back to that list of common diet tips from earlier, astute readers might have picked up a couple of references to some legitimate approaches in amongst a lot of stuff which is pretty much nonsense. So if you're offended because you think I'm talking about favourite approach, or something your favourite body builder uses, or for any other reason because you think I'm saying “that's no good, that won't work” hold up for a moment while I explain.

First up, I'm not in competition shape and I do not coach people in contest preparation. If anyone out there wants to tell me that specific meal timing or frequency (some of the other stuff too) gives them an edge in contest preparation I am happy to take their word for it. With that said, the body builders I follow and attempt to learn from mostly just talk in terms of “this macro ratio for off season, and this ratio for contest preparation”.
 
Either way, we're not talking about nutrition plans for contest preparation here. What I'm interested in is taking people from overweight or obesity into amazing shape, and getting the best results possible with the simplest possible approach.

So in the case of an overweight or an obese person who may have tried to lose weight without lasting success several times already, the last thing they need is a complicated plan that focuses on the minute details rather than the big picture. They most often already have a bad relationship with food and have formed any number of negative beliefs about their ability to lose weight (“I can never stick to a diet” or “I don't like healthy food”, for example).

The last thing these people need is some complicated set of rules that is at best fine tuning for elite level competitors, and at worst entirely irrelevant.

Instead, what if you could build your own weight loss diet based on foods you will actually eat, and timed to fit your schedule? As long as it actually does fit your macros, how could you possibly go wrong?

Making it work.

Obviously it's not just a matter of choosing your favourite foods and going to town on them. We need to determine our target calorie and macronutrient guidelines first, and then start developing a meal plan to suit. One option would be keep notes on all meals, snacks and beverages consumed in a day, and then tally up the macronutritional content. From here it is easy to see which are the bad choices that are putting you into surplus calories (which means weight gain), and swap them out for some more appropriate choices. In many cases it may not require a particularly drastic change in eating habits.

Oh, you still want more?

Drop your details in the box at the top of the page, and there'll be a whole heap of quality, free information coming your way. Alternatively you can visit the brand new Flexible Fueling website instead, and subscribe there.

I've been writing about this IIFYM stuff for quite a while now, way before it went mainstream. Here's one of my earliest articles about IIFYM, and another comparing IIFYM with conventional weight loss dieting.
Share:

IIFYM - Common Sense Approach To Weight Loss

It is a little ironic and unfortunate that while the motivation to lose weight may come from wanting to take better care of their health, the average overweight or obese person seems to adopt an unhealthy weight loss strategy more often than not. Usually this means extreme calorie restriction in the form of a crash diet, whether in the form of one of the many popular fad diets, meal replacement products, or just plain old “not eating”.

I would hope that anyone reading this article with an interest in health and fitness would agree that “food avoidance” is never a healthy option, even as a short term measure. Restriction leads to conservation, and it should be common knowledge by now that crash dieting invariable leads to weight gain as soon as the dieter returns to their usual eating habits. Not just gaining back the weight that they lost by starving themselves, but actually ending up heavier and more unhealthy than they started.

Perhaps even more damaging than the physical weight gain though is that each failed attempt to lose weight can reinforce negative and incorrect beliefs such as “I can't lose weight and I'll always be fat”, or even worse “eating makes you fat, not eating makes you lose weight”. Although there is a growing industry in products that take advantage of and propagate these messages, as fitness professionals or enthusiasts and decent human beings I'm sure we can all agree on how important it is that we combat these negative and untrue beliefs with practical, common sense advice on dieting, and the message that all human beings can get into shape and be healthy and happy through appropriate nutrition and exercise.

So that's crash dieting well and truly ruled out, forever!

What are some better options though? Our hypothetical overweight or obese person may be fortunate enough to have a friend or co-worker who knows (or at least, thinks he knows) something about training and nutrition who they can turn to for advice. Or, perhaps they get online and start researching the latest in legitimate dieting strategies as used by fitness models or body builders in contest preparation.

Depending on who's advice they follow, the dieting tips may be some or all of the following:
  • Eat a particular number of meals per day.
  • Eat only at these times of the day.
  • Only eat these types of foods, never eat those types of foods. 
  • Never eat these types of foods at the same time as those types of foods.
  • Only eat these types of foods in the morning, and only eat these types of foods in the afternoon. 
  • Avoid anything with a high glycaemic index.
  • Cut out carbs.
  • Cut out fats.
  • And perhaps my personal favourite; “Just eat clean”.
What's missing from this list?

Let me put it to you another way. Imagine I get an email, or I have a conversation with a member at the gym and they tell me “Dave, why aren't I losing weight? I'm eating 6 small meals a day, nothing after 7pm, I've cut out this, increased that, and I'm eating pretty clean. I should have lost more weight by now. What gives?”

What do you think I am most likely to ask them before I can hazard a guess at why they are not seeing results?

Simply put: How many calories are you getting in a day?

Let me break it down for you this way. There are four ranges of calories that a person could be consuming on average, as follows:
  • Excessive to current requirements, resulting in weight gain through increased body fat.
  • Suitable to maintain current weight. 
  • Suitable to achieve and maintain a healthy goal weight. 
  • Insufficient for good health, with unpredictable results that may include weight gain.
There would be some grey areas in between, but in short “you are either consuming an appropriate amount of calories to maintain your goal weight, or you are NOT consuming an appropriate amount of calories to maintain your goal weight”.

Continue to the next entry on IIFYM For Weight Loss.

Share:

information about burning calories through exercise

There's lots of new reading material over on the Lose Weight, No Bullshit site that you should check out. Start with my Eat More, Do Less; Lose Weight post from earlier in the week if you have not seen it already.

What we talked about in the that instalment was determining our actual requirements, rather than just sticking to the numbers we expect to work based on our mathematical formulas. As I said, in most cases we will get an accurate prediction using the Mifflin - St Joer equation... but if we're not seeing results, we're not using the right targets.

These days the issue often gets further confused by the popular habit of tracking (or attempting to) the amount of calories burned while exercising. I've discussed this already in the Cardio vs Weight Training entry (about half way down) in the Free Weight Loss Education Program. So, what I notice on people's weight loss & exercise blogs is that they seem to be talking about three different sets of calories they need to work to. One being their "base" or minimum requirement, then the amount they have burned off at training, and then a third amount which is the extra they need to "eat back" due to training.

Or something. I can barely follow the logic of it all, to be honest with you. It just seems way over complicated and confusing, and that's never the best strategy for anything in my opinion. I talk about it more in this post about eating back calories burned while exercising.

Over the past few years an idea seems to have spread that "more calories burned" = "a better workout". Well, without getting too pedantic and going into the difference between a workout and training for results, I don't think this is necessarily correct. So in this entry I talk about the difference between training methodically to produce a specific result, and just working out to burn calories.

Plenty of good information! Study up!
Share:

How the diet industry exploits vulnerable people.

I really should say "diet scam artists" rather than "diet industry" because I don't like to tar the genuine people people with the same brush as the horrible ones.

Over the past month or so I seem to have made a bit of a name for myself by calling out certain people and products for the dangerous and unhealthy methods they are pushing, or for the offensive and unethical business and marketing strategies they use.

I was thinking about it, and it kind of makes sense. I had a career in Security for 9 or 10 years, and most of that I would describe as "standing my ground against horrible people" and "looking out for vulnerable people". It makes sense that I've found myself doing more or less the same thing in terms of trying to stop horrible people from exploiting vulnerable people with harmful messages and dangerous products related to diet and weight loss.

So far I've been calling out the worst people in the world as far as the world of (what is supposed to be) health and fitness is concerned, in the order that they've come to my attention.

First up, literally the worst thing imaginable. I called out Dr Charles Livingston and asked him how could sleep at night while his Fat Loss Factor Diet Program Is Marketed To Anorexic Teens Via Spam Floods On Tumblr And Pinterest. He didn't want to talk to me though, for some reason.

While on the subject of the Fat Loss Factor, that's not all these people are up to. It came to my attention that   the "success stories" on their marketing sites are actually Stolen Before and After Photos From Tumblr Weight Loss Blogs. That is, they steal photos from people who've lost weight through putting in the effort with exercise and sensible nutrition, and claim credit for it even though the people have never used their product. That's pretty shifty!

Word is spreading about these horrifying tactics, and a few other websites have ran reports about it since.

Finally I called out a so called "celebrity fitness guru" for pushing some of the most ridiculous ... no, not "some of" but actually THE most ridiculous nonsense disguised as exercise advice that I have ever seen in all my days. You call also read about how the Tracy Anderson Diet Plan Results In The Same Effects Of Malnutrition As Found In Anorexia Patients in another article I reference.

As I said on my facebook the other day, there will always be differing opinions on the best methods to lose weight and get into shape, and what's best for one person may not necessarily be the best choice for someone else. What's not up for debate though, is that human beings are a species that requires food. Any time some moron starts telling people "stop eating food if you want to lose weight", there is gonna be a fight.

People need to consume The Right Amount of food. Not too much, not too little. There's a false perception that "less calories" or "eating as little as possible" is better for weight loss... but how could "less than enough" possibly be better than "The Right Amount"?

By the way, Dr Oz; you're next.

Share:

Choosing an exercise program for weight loss.

I used to say "the best form of exercise is the one that you're more likely to do, so choose something you can get enthusiastic about it and then go and get stuck into it". It makes sense, right?

Here's the thing though. When it comes to producing a specific physical result, not all forms of exercise are equally effective. Anything is better than nothing at all, but if you're serious about getting results you need to be doing what is actually required to produce those results.

First let's consider the factors that might influence you to make a particular choice of training program.
  1. It fits with my current self perception.
  2. Social or entertainment value.
  3. It will actually produce the physical result that I desire.

Option 1 ties in with what we discussed in an earlier entry, and this piece about how your beliefs influence your choice of program, over on my business site. To summarise, people often adopt an exercise strategy that fits in with who they think they are now, rather than who they are trying to become. Subconsciously they gravitate towards something that's unlikely to produce a result, due to not really believing that it is possible for them to successfully achieve the result.

Option 2... well, you know. This might be the latest trend in group fitness, and even some personal trainers market more on "variety" so that "you won't get bored doing the same workout twice" rather than actually promising specific results. I guess... anything that gets up and active, working up a bit of a sweat and feeling good about yourself is a good thing. On the other hand I'd be a little concerned that if they're putting in a decent effort to something that won't produce the required result, eventually they're likely to lose motivation, or worse, start to believe that it is not possible for them to achieve the result they are looking for. That's worst case scenario, but perhaps the best case scenario of this activity leading into some more serious training towards a specific result is just as likely.

Which leads us to...

Option 3. Clearly the most favourable, logical and desirable option.

The best advice I can offer people is, if you have a specific result in mind... first off, your goal should be to achieve your dream body... not just "to be slightly less overweight" or something reasonable like that. Forget reasonable. Be ambitious! Now, someone in that sort of shape already... how would they train? Now obviously as a new person going from no active to some activity, you can't expect to match the performance of someone who as already achieved your goal. However, you most certainly can (and should) attempted to emulate their approach.

More often, people think along the lines of "well, that's what I'll do once I've gotten into better shape... but I'll just stick to this other activity for now, that is more suitable to my current shape". In other words you could say "I'm a fat person, so I'll train like a fat person until I'm in shape, and then I'll train like an in shape person!"

The obvious problem here is that transition never occurs. If you want to get into shape, you must train to the best of your ability, in the style of someone who is in the sort of shape you would like to be in. If your goal is to lose weight, why would you do what all the other people who are failing to lose weight are doing? You must "begin with the end in mind", and train accordingly.

If you are serious about learning how to manage your weight and build a lean, toned and attractive physique, you should check out my brand new "Lose Weight, No Bullshit" site and study up! It has everything you need to know, and it is free.

Follow this link for more information about my Personal Training And Weight Loss Services In Brunswick.
Share:

Sponsor & Support My Blog

Labels

Popular Posts

VIP Access

Fill out my online form.