When you want to lose weight it’s obvious to focus your attention immediately on calories, macronutrients or the latest diet on your newsfeed. Whilst these may have an impact on your weight loss, prior to this there are several essential questions we work through with every client to ensure they get sustainable results.
Here are 7 questions to consider BEFORE you lose hours of your headspace and time on complicated calculations and calorie apps. Let’s get started…
1) Do your meals contain fat burning ingredients?
Weight loss has become highly macro focused with lots of discussion around the calorie, carb and fat content of foods. Whilst this has some relevance what you should also be asking yourself is have you consumed adequate magnesium, zinc and B vitamins today? All of these are fundamental to allow your cells to burn carbohydrates and fats for energy.
Next up, how’s your vitamin A intake? This is integral for protein digestion as it’s essential ingredient for the production of stomach acid. There’s no point following a high protein diet if you can’t digest it! Furthermore a significant proportion of the population have a mutation with the BCM01 gene which compromises conversion of beta carotene from vegetables into vitamin A (retinol), so those carrots might not be helping you see in the dark or digest your steak after all.
How about thyroid function? It’s integral to a healthy metabolism as it governs calorie utilisation, but when was the last time you consumed foods rich in iodine, selenium and tyrosine which are vital for thyroid hormone production? Increasing numbers of people are being diagnosed hypothyroid but there’s little focus on the cause and consideration for the nutrients needed to fuel thyroid hormone production and conversion. A big focus of our coaching, especially via our Fitter 16 transformation plan, is to educate everyone about the importance of nutrient density above anything else, no matter what your health goal.
2) Are your meals timed to support fat loss?
When you’re eating food the hormone insulin is released and one of its roles is to store nutrients in cells. When you’re not eating the hormone glucagon is released and its role is to free-up stored energy (body fat being an obvious choice) to fuel the body in the absence of food.
It goes without saying that you simply can’t eat all day long, as this means you’re never in ‘fat burning mode’, but also perhaps it’s time to reduce meal frequency, stop grazing and go back to eating three meals daily. It’s also helpful to consider shortening your eating window (have an earlier dinner or later breakfast) too. It’s important to implement a 3-4 hour gap between meals to allow the digestive system to run a cleansing wave and reset itself ready for the next meal, a 12 hour fast overnight is also important for immune health, so your body isn’t diverted from its spring cleaning by metabolic demands. By the way, not eating isn’t the solution either, some people have taken this info and really run with it leading to excessive fasting and calorie restriction, which will simply deprive you of nutrients, possibly elevate stress hormones and in excess turn your body into a fat storing machine by decreasing thyroid function.
3) Do you have the manners for fat loss?
Can you remember back to one of your first dates? How you waited until each of you had been served, you sat at a table, used a knife and fork, chatted and took time to savour the meal, perhaps you even put down the cutlery between mouthfuls (imagine!). During this time your body had time to produce saliva, stomach acid, digestive enzymes and bile ready to breakdown your protein, fats and carbohydrates. Hormones in the digestive tract had chance to tell your brain that you were pretty full and if you fancy your chances later on it might be wise to stop yamming on those chips. The result was awesome absorption, no wind, burping or bloating – keeping everything romantic and mysterious. This is how we should eat daily, like you have all the time in the world, grateful for your food and company and leaving the table 80% full, so if you happen to get lucky later on you can jump on the opportunity, literally!
4) Do you have deficiencies that hinder fat loss?
Before you tinker with carbs and calories you need to have a mini audit of your body and see if there are indictors of any nutrient deficiencies, these have a huge potential to hinder your results. Consider if you have broken nails, white spots on nails, brittle hair or hair loss, rashes, spots, dry skin, chicken skin arms (keratosis pilaris), joint pain, easy bruising, poor healing, bleeding gums. These can all be telltale signs and symptoms that a system in the body isn’t working and can usually be linked back to nutrient deficiencies.
The most common deficiencies we tend to observe are Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin C and K2, usually B vitamins are in short supply as these are easily depleted by our lifestyles in particular stress, exercise, digestive issues, medications and alcohol. Omega 3 fatty acids are often lacking too and when you consider these are vital to maintain a healthy cell membrane (which is responsible for the movement of nutrients in and out of a cell) its relevance is to energy production and therefore fat loss is huge. These deficiencies need to be addressed with a nutrient rich diet and possibly quality supplements. This is why we included sensible supplement information in Fitter 16, our lifestyle transformation plan, as for some individuals to regain their health and succeed in their fat loss journey supplementation is a vital step but it needs to be approached sensibly.
Here’s a sneak peek at some of the awesome supplementation advice in our Fitter 16 plan.
5) Have you eliminated a food group that causes a deficiency?
As more foods are vilified it’s easy to believe that dropping out an entire food group is the best way forward. Whilst we’re fans of an elimination diet and recommend them so you can experiment with what works for you, it’s important to note deficiencies that maybe caused by avoiding certain food groups and literately work on rebuilding your health (specifically your gut health) so that you can enjoy a varied diet.
For those of you eliminating dairy it’s important to look at Calcium and K2 and make sure you’re eating bone broth or fish with small bones. For the low carbers you may be lacking in some fibres (essential for gut bacteria) and minerals like potassium. For the low fat followers you need to keep an eye on fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K. Finally, if you eliminate animal products and fish or seafood educate yourself about B12 and omega 3 fatty acids and how you might source or supplement with these and again keep an eye on your nutrient status.
6) Do you have a lifestyle habit that increases a nutrient need?
Travel, medication, alcohol consumption, exercise, shift work are just a few example of lifestyle factors that create a need for more nutrients. These can all impact gut health, hormonal communication and detoxification – each of these is essential to fat loss so you need to educate yourself about nutritional support for these functions to ensure your systems are geared to take on your goals.
7) Do you have the potential to be happy?
The reason I want you ask this question is you might not be happy now if you’re exhausted, overweight and struggling with cravings. You will likely feel out of control but take a step back for second and ask yourself this… if someone else provides you with a highly effective, science-based process to achieve your fat loss goals (Ahem Fitter 16) are you ready? Is your environment supportive of your health because if your relationships, career, living space and routine cause you huge amounts of anxiety and discomfort you will crave comfort and reward. It’s that simple!
Even the most fabulous training plan and macro split will eventually fail in the face of powerful brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine which play a role in our behaviours and govern our sense of happiness and experience of reward. These can often falter due to stress, gut infectious, inflammation as well as lack of sleep, so if you feel low and can’t establish an explanation these guys need fixing to help you stay on track. Otherwise you’re left you in a constant state of always needing ‘something‘ to look forward to and seeking reward. It makes life a rollercoaster of highs and lows fuelled by caffeine, sugar, alcohol and other hedonistic tendencies like shopping, partying and gambling.
Real optimal health requires you to be stable, balanced and consistent so the bigger brain picture MUST be considered in the process. This requires you to address your relationship with yourself .
You can find out more about Fitter 16 and the amazing results people are achieving by visiting www.fitter16.com and searching the hashtag #Fitter16 on Instagram.