Despite our currently volatile political climate, the title of this week’s post is not about the ugly mess in D.C., but rather about the continuing tendency to single out carbs and calories by those seeking to lose body fat. This past weekend my nephew mentioned that his entire office was going to stop eating carbs and wanted him to join in. He cited all my reasons why that is an ill-advised way to permanently lower body fat levels, but they ignored him/me.
A few days later my niece was ordering a salad and I advised her to add protein onto it (for her fitness goals) and she lamented that doing so heavily increased the calories. Once again, the top two faux pas “dieters” make is to eliminate carbs and calories!
Therefore, today I want to once again strongly advise you all to stop seeing carbs or calories as the enemy and start seeing nutrition as one tool (vs. obstacle) in your quest for a healthy lifestyle that facilitates proper and permanent fat loss.
Carbs are necessary! They are essential to providing the energy required to get through your day, least of which is to get you through a killer workout (another necessary element of fat loss). Carbs come in two primary forms – “healthy” (aka complex carbs) and “crap” (aka simple carbs) – and this is where the confusion sets in for most people. By lumping all carbs together and then avoiding them, you are not only reducing your primary energy source, but you are also robbing your body’s “muscle-rebuilding” of nutrients required to burn the fat while building up lean muscle tissue.
Any overly-processed snack foods (chips, crackers, cookies, etc.), breads and pastas are “crap” carbs. But things like vegetables, nuts, whole grains (including certain breads and crackers), and fruits are “healthy” carbs. You’ll need them to successfully lower body fat levels, and because you’re not restricting something from your system, there will be no “bounce back” (regaining of body fat) once you stop the restriction (dieting).
As for calories, once again, the reason counting calories became a societal focus back in the 80’s was because Americans on the whole were over-eating, and over-indulging in a lot of “crap” foods. While counting calories is a great way to make one aware of how much they’re consuming, the down side is that the focus is on a number and NOT on WHAT they’re putting into their body.
If you simply pay more attention to the quality of foods ingested, and the consistency of intake (how much and how often you eat), you do not need to count calories. Unless you’re eating high-fat, high-sugar, and/or overly-processed foods, a moderately balanced daily nutrition intake, with a regular quantity of effective exercise is all that’s required to ultimately shift your body from over-fat to healthy.
So stop pointing fingers and blaming passive nutrition for your fat gain, and start exercising regularly and eating healthy balanced nutrition (with allowances for the less healthy foods that you enjoy) and you will change your body for the better and not have to anguish over the micro-management of your food.
Three years ago I published the following article concerning the daily mantra of many of you — “why can’t I lose weight?” Despite all my efforts, as well as an increase in National awareness and marketing about how to maintain a healthy body composition, I still hear this lament on a daily basis from prospective clients. So I decided it was time to reiterate my answer.
The eternal question why can’t I lose weight is uttered hundreds of times a day – at least in my profession I hear it from almost every prospective new client. The answer is simple – you’re not doing what you need to do to achieve your goals. The power lies within you. So the real question is what’s wrong with your execution?
Successful weight loss (which is really successful fat loss) is achieved with the following 3-steps:
1. Set an achievable goal for your body type and lifestyle.
2. Create and FOLLOW a nutrition plan that provides enough calories, protein and yes, even carbohydrates and fats to allow for burning of fat and building of lean muscle;
3. Exercise regularly – or more accurately – burn more calories on a daily basis than you consume!
That’s it. If you follow those three steps you WILL succeed. Now you may be saying I do, I am, I have – but I guarantee, if you are still not losing weight (fat) you’re missing one or more nuances to one or more of these steps.
1. GOALS: if you are over 40, in a sedentary job, have lots of stress, have injured body parts (back, legs, shoulders) or weakened joints – any or all of these issues – you MUST take those issues into consideration when setting your goals. With any of these issues you are likely to burn calories at a slower rate than others (age, lifestyle), if you are under stress you may in fact gain weight, and all of these issues greatly impact your ability to successfully follow step No. 2.
2. NUTRITION PLAN: First off, you’ll never succeed if you follow a diet – which implies a temporary change in how you eat (one in which you will cease when you’ve reached your goals). Second, you need to cater your meal plans to your schedule, taste preferences, and budget. Trying to eat what worked for one person who has a different set of criteria is a sure fire way to not succeed.
3. EXERCISE: You’ll note I really addressed this issue as calorie burn. Whether high-impact or low, 10 minutes or 45, resistance training or group classes, your success at embracing and maintaining a consistent exercise (calorie burn) regiment hinges upon you enjoying what you’re doing. If you hate the gym, but love to hike – make it so. If you prefer DVD’s at home rather than working with a personal trainer then do that. The key to remember is BURN MORE CALORIES THAN YOU CONSUME.
That being said, please heed this important note: eating less calories is NOT the answer. The more you burn calories – especially in a proactive way such as resistance training (the fastest way to lose fat) – the more you’ll actually need to eat. You’ll still be at a deficit, but beware of eating too little calories. Your body will hoard what you do eat and you’ll not see a change!
Last word: YOU MUST DO THE WORK!
SHAMELESS PLUG: I would be remise in this page of advice if I did not take advantage of a place to make a shameless plug for my services. I have a website where you can purchase specifically customized workout routines and meal plans that will take into consideration all of the issues I’ve detailed herein and if followed will help you achieve your goals!
The month of May is three days away and there’s something about that month every year that triggers people into frantic action to get into bathing suit shape. Perhaps it’s because Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer to so many of us, but sadly 30-days is not enough for most people to achieve their fitness goals. In fact, the biggest road block to fitness success is unrealistic goals. It took you more than 30-days to get out of shape, and the hard truth is that it takes twice as long to get that fat off or tone up unused muscles.
With that said, here’s a few tips that can help tremendously in improving your physical state and appearance in the next month:
Stop drinking sodas, smoothies, and even alcohol! This significantly lowers your sugars which will stop your body from conversion and storage into fat. (Don’t panic about the alcohol, we’re just talking about one month here!)
Reduce and/or watch your sodium (salt) intake. Salty snack foods, frozen, canned and overly processed foods are very high in sodium and this causes water retention and bloat.
Start the day with a large glass of water – this jump starts the metabolism and then keep water flowing throughout the day to flush out toxins, and simultaneously allow a slight feeling of being full which will keep you from over-eating.
Eat five to six small meals/snacks all day, being sure to stop once you’re in that evening sedentary mode (no noshing while watching TV).
DO NOT avoid carbs! DO avoid processed carbs!
Perform 30-minutes of medium-high intensity cardio 3-5 times a week, along with 30-minutes of total-body high intensity resistance training.
Honestly, if you make and follow these few changes to your nutrition and daily routines between now and Memorial Day, you will see a difference in your body. If you commit NOW to consistent hard work and sustain it past May 31st, you can be outrageously fit and swim suit gorgeous by mid-summer for sure.