With the festive season fast approaching, it’s easy to be seduced by the numerous Christmas parties and celebrations. As we all know, a little extra alcohol consumption is generally part and parcel of such occasions. Before you become immersed in the festive season, it may be worthwhile familiarising yourself with the calories in alcohol…
We’ve all been there … you follow the rules – eat well, exercise and you are thrilled with your initial weight loss. And then out of the blue, you keep moving but your fat loss begins to slow, or even slips backwards. At this point it can seem like it’s simply not worth the effort.
It’s important to acknowledge that your body is a mirror-image of your lifestyle. If your goal is to reach a weight of 60kg and you get stuck at 70kg, it’s likely you’re following the lifestyle of a 70kg person. If you start eating and exercising like a 60kg person, you body will have no choice but to follow you there. This doesn’t have to involve starvation, profuse sweating and more time at the gym. It simply means that your present routine needs tweaking.
To gain the edge on a successful, life-long regime, here are some tips to help liberate you from the frustrating set-backs and lead you onto success:
- Don’t use the scales as your only means of monitoring progress. It is possible to maintain the same weight yet make positive changes to your body
composition: more lean, less body fat. The way your clothes fit is a great guide.
- There are SO MANY benefits in regular exercise, all of which go a long way in helping you to burn stored fat more efficiently, such as improved insulin sensitivity and an increase in metabolic rate.
- It is said that you need to practice something 1000 times to form a habit, so be patient with yourself. If you’re overweight, you’ve likely a champion at poor habits! Start practicing new, healthier habits today. You may mess it up here and there, but be patient with yourself – practice makes perfect!
- If what you’re doing is not working for you, the smallest changes can get the ball rolling again. You know what they say – the definition of insanity is the continue doing the same thing and expect something different to happen!
- Don’t try to follow rigid diet plans or you will set yourself up for disappointment. Focus on implementing healthy choices which can be maintained for the long-term
- Remember, it’s all about quality, not quantity. You can increase the intensity and efficiency of your exercise without having to devote more time to it. You can also reduce your calorie intake without reducing your volume of food. Perhaps it’s also time to find a trainer or buddy a couple of times a week to help you reach the next level.
Most people will notice a 30% improvement in joint pain and function after losing 5% of their body weight
Most people will notice a 50% improvement in joint pain and function after losing 10% of their body weight
Quality of life, need for joint replacement and mortality are also improved
People who are overweight are at greater risk of more osteoarthritis
For every kilogram of weight you lose there is a four-fold reduction in knee joint load
Researchers report that men and women over the age of 60 have to lift weights more often than younger adults to maintain adequate muscle to support strength and metabolism.
A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests that preventing sarcopenia — muscle loss that occurs as we get older — is “one of the most pressing challenges of biomedicine in our ageing society.” And resistance training, such as lifting weights, is the best means of prevention.
We all know that life often gets in the way of regular exercise. “A major limiting factor of resistance training as a therapeutic approach to sarcopenia is the second key ingredient that defines efficacy — sustainability,” the researchers write. This study aimed to determine the impact that scaling back a weight-lifting regimen would have on muscles and strength.
Seventy adults were recruited for the 48-week study. Just over half of the study participants were aged 60 to 75, with the remainder ranging in age from 20 to 35.
For the first four months, everybody did the same strength exercises three times a week. Each participant steadily increased the amount of resistance over that period. By the end of this first part of the study, everyone — young and old — had gained muscle.
The second phase was designed to reveal how much of that muscle would be lost to inactivity or reduced exercise. To start, the researchers randomly divided the participants into three groups. Then, for the next 32 weeks, one group did no exercise at all, another group did the same exercises as before but only one day per week, while the third group reduced their regimen to one set of exercises once a week.
By the end of the study, the differences between the young and old groups were striking. The younger participants who continued to exercise showed little or no reduction in the muscle gains they had made during the previous phase of the study, despite the less frequent and less intense workouts.
By contrast, members of the older group lost muscle mass when they scaled back their training regimen, indicating that they need to lift weights more often than young people to keep their muscles buff. Their strength, however, remained the same. This loss of muscle mass would also have a significant impact our their metabolic rate, which goes a long way in explaining the “middle-aged spread”.
Maintaining muscle mass is essential to healthy ageing. This study revealed that the positive health benefits of increased muscle mass among older adults extend well beyond muscle performance. Some of those benefits include increased aerobic capacity, better fatty acid metabolism, and improved bone and joint health.
There has been much hype of late regarding intermittent fasting and the idea of eating normally for 5 days and fasting (very low calorie diet VLCD) for 2 days. You may have seen documentaries and/or read a book by doctor and BBC journalist, Dr Michael Mosley, who espouses this method to reduce visceral (internal) body fat and consequently the associated diseases. While I have quite enjoyed his documentaries and he raises some interesting points, there are still many unanswered questions as his productions are not exactly long-term, peer-reviewed studies, but rather intriguing observations with many unexplored variables.
For those who have been asking for my opinion on the 5:2 method, here are my thoughts on the unexplored variables:
- If there is a health advantage observed from intermittent VLCD, is this the result of a person who is already over-consuming benefiting from a much needed reduction in overall calories … and would the same result be achieved by simply eating at a moderate rate every day?
- Does this method encourage an unhealthy ‘binge-purge’ attitude to food, where we ‘hold our breath’ for two days, only to find ourselves gasping for air (or food) for the rest of the week … like a bear in hibernation?
- Feeding your body with less calories and nutrients than it requires to survive (ie: cover our basal metabolic rate (BMR)), even for 2 days, is a significant stress on the body. Stress releases cortisol, which can cause excess fat storage in the long term.
- Also, appropriate levels of essential daily nutrients, such as calcium, cannot be achieved on such low calories, therefore long term effects may jeopardise bone health, etc…
- Consuming calories at a rate lower than your BMR will send your body into starvation mode, which means it assumes there is a famine and will begin to preserve your life by reducing ‘expendable’ lean muscle tissue to make your ‘engine’, or BMR, smaller and more efficient, consequently reducing your metabolic rate. When you resume eating ‘normally’, your calorie requirement has now reduced so you are more likely to store any excess in your reserve fuel tanks – fat cells. It’s a vicious cycle.
Regarding Dr Mosley’s comments regarding ‘TOFI’ – individuals being Thin Outside and Fat Inside – simply refers to our body composition…or as I explained in my first book, Fat or Fiction, ‘skinny fat people’. As covered in my last blog – body composition is king.
I hope this provides some clarity in this ever-confusing world of fat loss and dieting.
All too often I come across articles that defy belief. Once such article appeared in The Saturday Herald Sun on August 31st, 2013. In fact, it was so ludicrous that it’s taken me this long to decide whether to bother addressing it!
The sub-title was “Body Mass Index Rethink” followed by “Are you healthy fat?”
Firstly, I must preface this by explaining the basic science behind Body Mass Index (BMI) and Body Composition (BC).
BMI is commonly used in studies where estimated data needs to be gathered from broad communities. It is an equation simply taking into account your height and your weight. It is highly inaccurate on an individual basis, however, it provides a rough guide for community studies. The problem is, we’re all different. Different build, different lean muscle tissue…essentially different composition. I worked quite a lot with the Victorian Army Barracks some time ago and the soldiers could not be deployed for duty until they were a ‘healthy’ BMI. The problem was, many of these guys were big burly soldiers with large frames and dense muscle, making them “too heavy” for their height. While some of them had rippling 6-packs and were under 10% body fat, they were considered “obese” on the BMI scale and some had to lose 5-10kgs of lean muscle tissue to be ‘healthy’ enough to be deployed. Ludicrous, right?
BMI works the other way as well. You can have someone of ‘healthy’ weight for their height, yet they have very high levels of stored body fat and very low lean muscle tissue (generally lack of exercise). So these ‘skinny fat’ individuals are considered ‘healthy’ on the BMI scale, yet their body composition would likely put them in the overweight or obese range.
Body composition is king. It clarifies what your body is composed of, regardless of what it weighs. It can inform us of visceral fat around the abdominal organs, whether we have adequate lean muscle to support our joints and metabolism and ultimately is closely associated with our overall health and disease risk.
The bottom line is … as a woman, a healthy range of body fat is between 20-30% and for men, under 20%. BMI schmi-MI!
Now to the article…
The opening sentence reads “Scientists want to figure out why some people with a high BMI do not appear to be at increased risk of the health complications usually associated with excess weight”. Scientists, really??
It gets worse….
“It’s a question they hope could ease the pressure on the public health budget by helping to calculate how many people are “fat and fit…” Oh my!
“Dr Adam Fraser, a physiologist at diabetes help group The Glucose Club, said such research was “critical” to measuring the impact on Australia’s health budget. He said many Australians were “fat and fit”, yet still attracted the stigma of being unhealthy”.
Honestly, I’m speechless. Do these “scientists” live under a rock? I cannot image anyone with knowledge of human physiology making such ridiculous statements.
Fricken unbelievable! There, I feel better now
It’s packed with fibre, calcium, essential fats and protein to keep you feeling full all morning. Enjoy!!
500g quinoa flakes (eg: Macro organic)
250g mixed raw nuts & seeds (roughly chopped)
100g shredded coconut
200g Protein Supreme, Vanilla Creme
Ground cinnamon to taste
Combine all of the above ingredients and store in a large air-tight container in the fridge.
Serve with natural yoghurt and/or milk and fresh or frozen berries.
Pros: Quinoa is a gluten-free, high fibre grain alternative for those who are intolerant or coeliac and provides a reasonable source of protein for those who do not consume animal protein.
Cons: While quinoa is touted as a high-protein food source, it is only relatively high ‘for a grain’. This does not compare to the protein derived from animal sources and is far higher in starchy carbohydrates per gram of protein provided (71% carbs and 15% protein).
Pros: In unpolished brown rice, only the hull is removed but the germ and bran are retained, so it contains almost five times the fibre and twice the iron of white rice. Wild rice contains a similar amount of fibre but twice the amount of zinc and eight times the amount of vitamin E. When these unprocessed varieties are combined with lean protein and colourful vegetables, they contribute valuable fibre and nutrients to our diet.
Cons: White rice has its hull, bran and germ removed in processing, which strips the rice of essential nutrients and fibre. If consumed at the expense of other more nutrient-dense foods, white rice can dilute the nutrient value of our daily diet.
Soft drink + juices
Cons: While it may come as a shock to some, I consider soft drinks and fruit juices in the same category. Both are extremely high in sugar and, if anything, the fruit juice issue may be worse due to the fact that many consider it the healthier option and consume it in copious quantities. It would take 10 oranges to make a glass of juice. It is impossible to consume 10 whole oranges in one sitting, however, it’s easy to consume the pure sugar from 10 oranges (without the fibre to slow it down) and still feel hungry. The copious quantity of sugar in juices (even unsweetened) and soft drinks causes dental caries, weight gain and increases our risk of type-2 diabetes, as well as a myriad of diseases associated with obesity. My advice – eat the whole fruit or vegetable and replace sugar-laden soft drinks (including vitamin waters and sports drinks) with a natural sparkling mineral water.
Pros: Cheese is a good source of readily absorbed calcium, protein and vitamin A and, in the appropriate quantities, can be added to a variety of foods, including omelettes, salads and lunch boxes. I prefer good quality deli cheeses with fewer additives over the highly processed, manufactured slices.
Cons: Cheese can be very high in sodium, so it’s not the ideal choice for those prone to hypertension. It can also be quite high in fat and kilojoules, so portion control is important. Reduced fat varieties may contain less kilojoules but can also contain more additives and fillers.
Pros: Over 300 naturally occurring chemicals are found in chocolate, including potent antioxidants called phenols. Cocoa phenols have been associated with preventing LDL cholesterol from causing plaque build up in the arteries. The darker the chocolate, the more phenols it contains.
Cons: The more commonly consumed milk chocolate varieties are high in sugar, processed fats and kilojoules, negating many of the health benefits provided by the phenols.
Pros: Legumes are a good source of fibre, B vitamins, zinc and magnesium and can contribute valuable protein to a vegan diet.
Cons: The protein in legumes is not as well-absorbed as that found in animal sources. They are high in starchy carbohydrates and need to be cooked extensively; therefore they do not have the same nutrient values of lightly steamed or raw, fresh and colourful plant foods. The B vitamins are water soluble and therefore may be lost in the boiling process.