I posted on Facebook a while back that perhaps there’s a little too much effort going on when it comes to fat loss and people might be missing some quick wins which could be achieved by kicking back a little and simplifying things. When an individual decides they want to change their body composition and focus on getting healthy it often starts off all guns blazing. There are plans to eat boat loads of steamed kale, smash HIIT sessions daily and answer to no one but the weighing scales.
Despite the Facebook updates checking into the gym and the instagramming of the 3pm green smoothies most people know the chocolate, crisps and cheese blips are waiting in the wings, confident you will return at some point and that bottle of Prosecco is pretty convinced you’ll be his needing company from Thursday to Sunday again soon.
Exercise and calorie control is the first line approach most people adopt to kick start the weight loss process and it is often slightly abused to justify less desirable nutritional choices, for example, one less biscuit if followed by a session at the gym won’t compromise results, will it??? If you step back for moment it’s clear you’re working around addictions, attachments and crutches, hoping to incorporate them into your goals, which isn’t surprising really because this approach to fat loss is stressing the heck out of you and you need something to look forward to! Intense training, constant calorie counting, making the right decisions and forcing deprivation upon yourself will constantly make you feel stressed and uncomfortable, as a result you’ll crave energy dense, yummy foods to make you feel better and fuel the stress response needed to get through these tough times 😉 Whilst will power will get your so far it’s not a sustainable tactic, at some point you’ll cave and likely return to habits that lead to the weight gain in the first place.
The point I’m emphasising here is that the most effective approach to fat loss is not to stress yourself about the process. This means you need to:
- Take your time
- Make changes in a simple and manageable manner
- Enjoy the process…yes enjoy it 🙂
Although we encourage a personalised approached to nutrition and health, there’s an order of priorities and nutrition is absolutely the best place to start for most individuals. Think of how many times you eat across a week, there’s a great potential to make a HUGE difference. You can balance all the hormones that regulate body fat including insulin, leptin, glucagon, andiponectin and ghrelin. These are in charge of deciding whether we need to burn fat or store fat, eat more or eat less and play an essential role in governing appetite and reducing craving so if we can get these guys on our side we’re building a winning fat loss team and excitingly it’s much easier than you think.
Step 1 – No Gym Just Nutrients
One thing I’ve encouraged many clients who have tried and failed at diets and weight loss programmes is to consider removing the stressors they associate with weight loss including weighing themselves, weighing or logging food and possibly intense gym sessions for a little while. The last thing these clients need is to be battling constant cravings and energy crashes.
In order to get their hormonal team onside, support blood sugar regulation and appetite I focus on the impact stress and intense training is having from the start. Many clients mention how training makes them feel ravenous and they struggle to make good nutritional choices after working out. Both stress and training will change the hormone profile of the body significantly and requires more support nutritionally. Already we’re adding variables and confusing things a little. I don’t remove ‘exercise’ completely but rather encourage lots of low level movement, relaxing evenings and more focus on nailing 8-9 hours sleep.
This can can easily be incorporated into a daily routine and keep the metabolism ticking over nicely. Even just walking 2-3 times a day for 20 minutes or more is sufficient. I also advise people to tray and move more at any given opportunity in the day – so when the kettle is boiling perform some stretches or mobility exercises to get the blood moving, lark around with the kids or your dog, always take the stairs and walk part of your commute or at the very least stand for most of it.
In terms of WHAT to eat that’s easy, I direct everyone to a copy of Fitter Food A Second Helping. Our Fitter 365 members also get free monthly meal plans and eBooks with new recipes to help with planning and preparation.
Do this and only this and until you feel confident that cooking your meals, making sensible nutritional choices, sleeping more and stressing less are second nature you can add in some structured training 🙂
Step 2 – Adapt Nutrient Timing
If we compliment the increased nutrients, extra sleep and low level movement with some savvy meal timing we can increase the time the body needs to tap into fat stores for energy.
This mainly involves eating less often:
- Shorten your eating window with a later breakfast or an earlier dinner. At the very least extend your overnight fast to 12 hours and gradually increase the fast as your blood sugar levels balance.
- Avoid snacking, grazing and late night eating.
- Favour fats and protein in the day to keep your appetite levels stable and have a fist size serving of starch based carbs in the evening (decrease fats at this meal slightly.)
Step 3 – Add Sensible Supplements & Supplemental Foods
Initially less is more with supplements. If you begin with too many how will you know what works and what doesn’t? The following are useful nutritional supplements and foods that will support your fat loss goals:
I think most people benefit from some topical magnesium supplementation. Magenesium is depleted by our stressful lifestyles and our food doesn’t offer the amount it used to. It aids relaxation, muscle recovery and adequate magnesium levels are vital for hormone optimisation, signs of a deficiency include muscle cramps, muscle twitches, insomnia, and frequent headaches. Better You sprays and salts are reasonably priced and possibly more effective than oral tablets in terms of absorption.
Cod Liver Oil
Many people are lacking adequate fat soluble vitamins so a teaspoon of cod liver oil daily is a good option as well as increasing seafood, organs meats and grass fed dairy products. Nordic Naturals have a great range of liquids and capsules.
A low dose of vitamin D3 is wise given our lack of daylight. I have discussed this here, you can take around 2000-5000 IU’s daily unless guided otherwise by a practitioner or a test.
In our book Paleo Primer: A Second Helping we also discuss the importance of eating fermented foods but a probiotic can be a useful short cut in your first month until you’re ready to get your ferment on. In terms of supplemental foods we recommend organ meats, eggs, seafood and lots of greens to everyone we coach top top up your micronutrient intake so that you have all bases covered.
Implement this consistently for 30-60 days and I’m pretty sure you will see and feel an EPIC difference in your body composition, energy levels and mindset, these changes are also very easy to sustain BOSH!