I have worked in the fitness industry since I was 19: worked at 3 gyms prior to starting my own business. There is one thing that I have observed over the years, and it is people who exercise regularly who WANT to lose weight, but it doesn’t happen.
They never miss class, they are quick to add in MORE exercise and they eat “well”. They weigh themselves every morning and wonder why one day they can weigh 3 more pounds than the previous.
I know these people well – I always have at least 1 in every one of my classes, but I also used to be one of these people too.
So what are these people doing wrong? They are measuring their progress in all the wrong ways. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. The scale will offer NO insight to your progress. I can pull up at least 10 examples that I know of, where there is a photo of 1 person, and they have 2 completely different bodies, and their weight is either MORE, or not much less than the photos in question. Go get a nice big bow, slap it on the scale and give it to someone you hate so you can give them neurosis.
There are several methods that are better than weighing yourself: waist-hip measurements, photographs taken in the same clothes in the same place and calipers. I currently do all 3 of these with clients – but they have to request me to do this, as I don’t set body composition goals for people.
The 2nd thing they are doing wrong is eating the wrong food but also in the wrong quantities. Again, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: fat loss is the result of the food you are putting in your body. Sure, exercise helps, but you cannot out-exercise crappy food choices and the resulting hormonal disruption. But the problem is some of the food choices you are making on a regular basis, you truly think are helping you. Food marketing is VERY powerful. These companies spend a lot of money wanting you to believe their product is good for you. This doesn’t make you a bad person.
What is the wrong food? I have borrowed the “Good Food Standards” from It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.
1) Does the food you eat promote a healthy psychological response? Does this food light up pleasure, reward and emotional pathways in the brain? Does this food promote over consumption and the inability to control cravings, habits and behaviors? Is this food hyper-palatable?
Example of foods like this are cookies, chips, fries, wings, etc. Foods that you KNOW you can’t just eat 1. If you are finding yourself continuously reaching back into the bag – without even realizing it, this food is not a good option. And here is the thing, there is a whole book about this stuff called “The End of Overeating” and the author goes into detail about how restaurants/companies work with food scientists to make food “HYPER-PALATABLE” – If anyone has ever ate a meal at the Cheesecake Factory – you know exactly what I’m talking about.
No one sits up at night thinking about pork tenderloin or green peppers – its the bag of Big Foot in the kitchen, or the chips in the cupboard.
Alcohol fits into this category as well. Alcohol does many things that can negatively impact your body – its full of empty calories, it can disrupt testosterone production, it can cause temporary hypoglycemia, etc. Consuming something that is going to impact your judgement – leading to poor food choices does not facilitate success. The long and short of it – alcohol will not be your friend if fat loss is your goal.
2) Does the food you are eating promote a healthy hormonal response? Do these foods ruin your ability to sense when you are full? This is called leptin resistance – leptin is the hormone that regulates appetite. Also, when you are leptin resistant, the taste of sweetness is dulled, making an apple taste like cardboard.
Another important hormone with regards to fat loss is insulin. Does this food promote insulin resistance? (Insulin resistance is a physiological condition in which cells fail to respond to the normal actions of the hormone insulin. Insulin’s job is to deliver sugar to cells to provide them with energy.Cells are not able to take in glucose, amino acids and fatty acids. Thus, glucose, fatty acids and amino acids ‘leak’ out of the cells.) A marker of insulin resistance is when your suprailliac site comes up in the top 3 of your BioSignature Modulation)
Some examples of these types of food: Carbohydrate-dense that contains a lot of sugar. Things like granola bars, cereal, bread, bagels, English muffins, donuts, pop, juice, etc. Anything with added sugar is one of the quickest and easiest foods to provoke an unhealthy hormonal response.
3) Do your food choices support a healthy gut? You want your gut barrier to be intact – not permeable. You want your gut to keep the food inside you – not leaking from inside your stomach into your body. This is how food sensitivities occur. When food particles get inside our bodies, our defense system will response violently and attack this invader.
The main culprit of this is gluten. Gluten is the protein that is found in wheat. There is a reason the book is called “Wheat Belly”. You see more body fat around the abdominal in people who are sensitive to gluten. There could be several other foods that can disrupt your gut – this is highly dependent on the individual. For a lot of people, another one is dairy. Dairy seems to really bother my stomach, and it also gives me acne. (There is a direct relationship between the skin and gut)
4) The final standard is DO your food choices support immune function and minimize inflammation. This is particularly important because this can lead to the development of systemic inflammatory symptoms or autoimmune diseases.
And this definitely relates back to gluten.
So yes – eating the wrong food on a continuous basis:
1) Will definitely not help you lose body fat
2) Make it hard to gain lean muscle mass
3) Will NOT give you consistent energy throughout the day
4) Will NOT keep your brain running at optimal levels
5) It will make you HANGRY
6) Poor recovery from exercise
7) Slow metabolism
8) Gas, bloating, constipation, etc.
9) More susceptible to illness, sickness, etc.
10) More susceptible to innumerable diseases and conditions
As I also said, eating the wrong amounts is also a problem. Having a palm full of almonds is one thing, eating the Costco size barrel is another. On your dinner plate, did you choose a smaller portion of meat in lieu of more potatoes? What about orange juice: A quick way to get 4 oranges down the hatch in 1/4th of the time it would take to eat one?
Something that has really helped me is to change my focus away from body composition goals, and instead focus towards performance based goals. Vanity-based goals have never worked for me (I.E – The Case of the Bridesmaid Dress Situation) Maybe work on your back squat, or your deadlift. Maybe you want to be able to do a full pull up. Maybe you want to score better on your 5 minute run, or the push up test.
So what SHOULD you be eating? Set a protein goal. For women its 1-2grams per KILOGRAM of bodyweight and for men its 3-4grams per KILOGRAM of body weight. Protein is VERY satiating. Eat more green vegetables. Frozen or fresh – doesn’t matter. Fill up on them. Are you exercising? Ok – have some fruit, squash, small amounts of potatoes, etc. Grill up some meat for a few days, stick it in containers in the fridge. Cut up a whole bunch of vegetables – put them in containers in your fridge. Get some fat into you – THE GOOD stuff – Fish oil, avocado, nuts, coconut oil.
I have consistently found that some peoples WORST meal is in the morning. Cereal. Bagels. English Muffins. Orange Juice. Banana. What you eat for breakfast, sets up your neurotransmitters for the day: will you be energized or feel sluggish? That will depend on what you ate. There is a reason the Poliquin Meat and Nut breakfast is effective. It gives you sustained energy throughout the day. You will not have blood sugar crashes. You won’t get hangry. It supports fat loss. Did you know the first 30 grams of protein you eat goes straight to detoxifying?
Whenever I give out this suggestion, I frequently hear “I don’t have time in the morning.” If you don’t have time in the morning, that means you aren’t waking up early enough, which I know means you aren’t getting enough sleep. Which 100% of the time means you will always have trouble losing body fat. If you have not read my piece of sleeping and losing body fat: http://allysharpe.com/how-to-lose-body-fat-calves/
Don’t forget that there is always a genetic component to your body composition. Will Richard Simmons ever have the body of Arnold Schwarzenegger. No. Will I ever have the body of a Victoria Secret model? Probably not. Last time I had my BioSig done, I was at about 140 lbs of lean body mass. Thats easily 20-30lbs more muscle than any of those girls. Will I ever be a marathon runner? Absolutely not. I have no desire, and I’m pretty sure I don’t have a slow-twitch muscle fiber in my body.
I really hope that this post has been helpful. I am always here if you have questions, or want something clarified.