Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mindset Coaching

This was supposed to be a video but the camera kept screwing up so I decided to come home and eat instead. Then I posted it as a facebook post... but facebook did that fun little thing where it detects that you put a lot of thought into something and therefore refuses to show it to any of your followers. Thanks for that.
This is important stuff though! Too important to go to waste... so I'm moving it over here to blogspot for prosperity.

Now though; mindset.

Mindset is important, but a lot of people talk about it as if it is ALL that matters. "If you just have the right mindset and be positive and love your self" blah blah blah. Sadly, nope.

If you want to be successful at ANY goal in life, it comes down to consistently taking the appropriate action. Not just "take action" either, that's another thing, that is. Consistently taking The Appropriate Action.

That might be described as working to an intelligent strategy, periodically assessing your progress, and then revising the strategy as seems best indicated.

MINDSET is a great influencer in how likely you are to adopt that correct course of action, vs some other course of action or inaction instead.

So IMO you can "believe in yourself" all you like and that's great, but if you're not also working consistently to an appropriate strategy, that belief is likely to dry up as you fail to see any progress.

On the other hand though... not believing in yourself or in your potential for success is likely to be a self fulfilling prophecy as you resign yourself to some other course of action (or inaction) other than the one someone would take if they declared to the world, "this is what I want, I believe in myself and I know I can be successful, and here's how I'm about to make it all happen, just you watch".

That's how you want to be thinking. Although even if you WEREN'T so upbeat and optimistic, but you did it that way anyway, you'd get where you're trying to go.

So, mindset matters. But here's what else...

If you really, REALLY insist upon success... it's not enough to want, hope, or even intend to be successful. You need to make a decision, and decide that you will ensure success.

In our training related goals we do this by having a plan. Not merely the intention to make it to all of our training sessions, but a schedule we have decided upon at which time training IS gong to happen. Not merely the intention to log our meals at the end of the day and see if we were within range of our fueling requirements, but a plan based on choices we have decided upon in advance in serving sizes that we KNOW will bring us to the right balance over the course of the day.

Not just knowing what needs to be done, but actually have a plan and a schedule we will work to, that ensures that was needs to be done does in fact get done. Anything else... hoping for the best, seeing how things turn out... that's all still leaving a lack of success as an acceptable option.

At least in the early in stages until it becomes second nature, you must DECIDE to be successful and then set up a plan in advance that ensures success.

What's next?

If you have decided that your training & condition related goals are important to you, and that success is the only outcome that you can accept... now's the time to drop your email address into the box at the top right of the page, to gain access to a whole stack of free resources and learn how to join my Flexible Fueling Online program where we'll work together on a custom strategy.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Then and now...

I was just thinking of a couple of things. Back when I started doing this, it was because people asked me to. The online coaching stuff, I mean. It wasn't something many people were doing as far as I'm aware, but I do vaguely recall people speculating that it would become big in the near future, as it is has done.

Anyway. I started doing it because a few people wrote to me from around the world, saying "I love your blog, I wish I lived close enough to come and train with you..." and we'd get talking and I'd give them a program and some macro targets. After the first handful got excellent results, word got out, more people wanted programs, and fast forward to now and a whole unique system has evolved.

The eating disorder awareness and relapse avoidance stuff that I do, that's another thing. I started doing that because people asked me, too. "You have helped me so much, you need to let other people now that they can come to you for help so that they don't end up with someone else who is going to mess them up"... that sort of thing. I wasn't sure about the ethics of it, you know?

So that's the other thing. When I started doing this, not many people were doing an IIFYM or Flexible Dieting approach. In fact I don't even think the phrase "Flexible Dieting" had been coined yet. In the groups I was in at least, it was all "clean eating", "paleo" and in particular it was "elimination diet".

This was highly, HIGHLY problematic.

An elimination diet is highly restrictive, with any grain based or processed foods, any legumes, fruit & dairy "eliminated". Now while there may be medical grounds for such a diet in some cases, for a PT to believe EVERY client who comes to train needs to be on such a diet is highly problematic, especially based on the assumption that they ALL have conditions such as "leaky gut" and "adrenal fatigue" which (a) have no basis in science, and (b) if they did exist would constitute medical conditions to be diagnosed and managed by a medical professional and not by a fitness professional.

Clearly, right?

The additional issue with such approaches is that clients literally are taught to fear foods of different types, are taught to ascribe moral value to foods of different types, and are taught that failure to see progress / lose weight is due to any specific individual instance of moral failure where they have partaken in "unclean" eating.

For example... not losing any weight this month might be put down to having cereal, or toast, or a slice of birthday cake two Tuesdays before last. Which is beyond preposterous and beyond problematic, especially if you consider what drastic action a desperate and vulnerable client might take to rectify a situation where they are feeling guilty about having just eaten something they "shouldn't have", and believing that it will render all of their other efforts in training and adhering to the rules of the diet void, and meaning another week or month or however long without making progress towards their weight loss goal.

It was ALWAYS a "weight loss goal", as well.
That's something else that has changed, this time for the better.

Now... how an elimination diet or similarly restrictive diet might result in weight loss is quite simply because people have less options to choose from and in particular less energy dense options, so they tended to result in a much lower total energy intake and a higher percentage of that intake being from protein. Eventually more people were able to understand, any weight loss was due to the reduction of energy intake, rather than because any specific food or subset of foods was causing weight gain / precluding weight loss outside of the context of excessive total calories. This is a vast improvement in terms of being a more evidence based approach and one that less resembles orthorexia nervosa, however the issue you have now is that a poor understanding of this theory of energy balance means that it is interpreted in overly simplistic terms of "if they are losing weight they are in calorie deficit, if they are not losing weight they are in calorie surplus", which is more often than not applied in terms of continuously and recklessly slashing intake targets, adding more and more high intensity exercise sessions to maximise energy expenditure (aka "burn calories"), and perhaps even to introduce fasting when this fails to result in fat loss.

Whereas previously the blame for a failure to see fat loss would have been any isolated instance of failing to "eat clean", currently the blame will be on any isolated instance of failing to restrict to the prescribed calorie limit &/or to adhere to a precise macronutrient split. So... as an aspiring trainer who is networking with people in the industry, you will frequently see social media posts talking about how online coaching is a great way to supplement your income without taking on more clients locally, with free webinars or paid mentorships to teach you how to write the right blog entries and social media posts and email subscription content to get people to sign up and pay the money for your new online lifestyle coaching service.

And that's fine... we all want to make money, and if you can make money from helping other people get happier and healthier and to make progress towards their fitness goals, all the better.

For the consumers out there though and especially ones who may have been unsuccessful and had a bad experience with online coaching, especially of the "you must still be eating too much" variety... you have to consider: they may have a professional web presence and be good at marketing, they may have been taught how to say all the right things, tug on the heartstrings &/or manipulate people into wanting to be accepted and belong to their "tribe"... but are they actually any good? Do they actually have a good understanding of how training works, how sports nutrition & fueling works, and do they actually have any experience at coaching people?

That's what I'd want to know.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

What's with the "What's With Wheat" movie?

I was planning on doing a masterpost about grains and gluten for a while now.
Since there's a new movie on the subject about to launch, I figured I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't get this together about now.

This movie "What's With Wheat" you may have heard of appears to have been inspired by the financial success of a similar fearmongering misinformation piece known as "That Sugar Film" and there appears to be some cross-promotion between the makers of that film and this one. The "experts" and funders of the movie are a veritable who's who of woo, featuring all manner of pseudoscience based health & diet authors in particular.

Not having or intending to watch this fictional piece I cannot offer a review myself but I will add links to reviews as they become available. As to the claims the film makes, I understand that they range from the "gluten is bad" to the "it's not the gluten it's the chemicals they spray on the crops" to the "the wheat is GMO which makes it bad" sort of nonsense that has been claimed and debunked repeatedly for at least as long as I've been in the fitness business.

Here's an entry from a blogger who was offered a cut to promote the film, but declined on ethical grounds: Nurse Loves Farmer - No, I Will Not Promote Your Anti-Wheat Documentary.

It's always ironic to me that these "alternative" health marketers constantly claim that we can't trust the scientists and the qualified health professionals as they have financial incentives to promote certain information... while they themselves run affiliate programs offering financial incentives to promote their own, non-evidence based misinformation. As a side note, remember that time they tried to pay ME off to promote lchf and paleo pseudoscience? I sure haven't forgotten it.


The following links alone will debunk many of the disingenuous claims of this marketing piece masquarading as a documentary:

In the next section you'll find links regarding the benefits of keeping cereal grains in your diet unless you have an actually diagnosed medical reason to avoid them.

As I've attempted to explain for years now... active people have a certain ENERGY requirement as well as other nutritional requirements to meet. They will best meet those requirements through a more inclusive diet, rather than a more restrictive one.


The Master Post On The Benefits Of Keeping Whole Grains In Your Diet Starts Here:


Whole grain consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause and cause specific mortality: systematic review.

http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2716?etoc

What is already known on this topic

  • A high intake of whole grains has been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain
  • Recommendations for whole grain intake have often been unclear or inconsistent with regard to the amount and types of whole grain foods that should be consumed to reduce chronic disease and risk of mortality

What this study adds

  • A high intake of whole grains was associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, total cancer, and all cause mortality, as well as mortality from respiratory disease, infectious disease, diabetes, and all non-cardiovascular, non-cancer causes
  • Reductions in risk were observed up to an intake of 210-225 g/day (seven to seven and a half servings/day) and for whole grain bread, whole grain breakfast cereals, and added bran
  • The results strongly support dietary recommendations to increase intake of whole grain foods in the general population to reduce risk of chronic diseases and premature mortality

Consumption of whole grains and cereal fiber and total and cause-specific mortality.


http://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-015-0294-7

  • Consumption of whole grains were inversely associated with risk of all-cause mortality and death from cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, respiratory disease, infections, and other causes.
  • Our data suggest cereal fiber is one potentially protective component.
See also: http://www.livescience.com/50231-whole-grain-cereal-fiber-early-death.html

 Gluten free diet and nutrient deficiencies: A review.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27211234
  • GF-diet was found to be poor in alimentary fiber due in particular to the necessary avoidance of several kinds of foods naturally rich in fiber.
  • Micronutrients are also found to be poor, in particular Vit. D, Vit. B12 and folate, in addition to some minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium.
  • Moreover, an inadequate macronutrient intake was reported related above all to the focus on the avoidance of gluten.

Association Between Carbohydrate Nutrition and Successful Aging Over 10 Years


  • Consumption of dietary fiber from breads/cereals and fruits independently influenced the likelihood of aging successfully over 10 years. These findings suggest that increasing intake of fiber-rich foods could be a successful strategy in reaching old age disease free and fully functional.

 

Whole-grain wheat consumption reduces inflammation in a randomized controlled trial.

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2014/12/03/ajcn.114.088120.abstract
  • Whole-grain wheat consumption reduces inflammation in a randomized controlled trial on overweight and obese subjects with unhealthy dietary and lifestyle behaviors.


No Effects of Gluten in Patients With Self-Reported Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085%2813%2900702-6/abstract

And a couple more I've shared already in an earlier entry, in case you missed it then:
And here's a link to the Australian 2016 Grains For Health Report.


But what about Adrenal Fatigue though?

I'm glad you asked. For good measure here are some links discussing this condition, which is frequently invoked by fearmongers to convince you to adopt whatever form of restrictive diet they are selling.

Does such a condition even exist though? Spoiler: in the context they describe, nope.
Bottom line: there's money to be made in fearmongering, but there's a lot of harm to be done in promoting restrictive dieting via fear aka orthorexia. There are many benefits to including whole grains in a healthy & balanced diet.

Monday, May 30, 2016

You can't expect a specific result from a vague suggestion.

Two topics in one.

It's ironic and a little unfortunate that we've been conditioned see getting into shape as being about restriction and deprivation; going without enjoyable food, going on very little of any food, and so on.

It's GOOD that we have such a strong movement now steering people away from pursuing unrealistic body image goals through unhealthy means, but it's terrible that we've been lead to believe that's the way to go about it in the first place.

The reality is that if you want to be in great shape... let's define "great" as healthy, fit and strong... you get that way by doing more of the good things, not via destructive means.

Good things include:
  • Strength training. 
  • Cardiovascular & endurance training. 
  • More non exercise activity.
    Talking a walk, using the stairs instead of the lift. Little things like that.
     
  • Rest & recovery. Getting enough sleep.
  • Including more nutritious choices of foods.
    Fruit, veg & whole grains instead of white flour, for example.
     
  • Getting an adequate amount of protein into your diet. 
  • Having an appropriate TOTAL energy provision from your diet, as well.
The last point is crucial. A lot of people might be "dieting" or "clean eating" with a view to getting lots of fruit and veg, but within a total energy provision that is woefully inadequate, especially at their level of activity. That's not healthy, despite consisting mostly of really great & healthy choices.

Note also the difference between a productive & strategic approach to training, rather than non-productive "calorie burning". This is also crucial. You get into great condition by BUILDING a great condition, and you can't do that by squandering an already insufficient supply of resources aka energy and nutrients from an inadequate intake of foods. That's called "exercise bulimia", and again, it's unfortunate that these are ideas that so called "fitness programs" are sold on; "it burns more calories than the rival brand". Bullshit. So fkn what if it does anyway? What's good about that?

The purpose of training is to instruct your body to take up a greater amount of nutritional resources and put them all to good use in building your healthiest, strongest physical condition. In an inactive person, energy is either burned or stored as fat. In active people who are training strategically, a third and preferred option is introduced: utilisation. 

These are things I talk about it practically every blog post. In pursuit of your goal condition, do more of the good things that will get you healthy and strong. 

However... 

You can't expect a specific result from vague notions, alright?
To begin with, sure. 
From inactive to more suitably active. From activity to more strategic training. From excessive or inadequate calorie intake and less nutritious foods, to more appropriate calorie intake and more nutritious foods. All of that will go a long way, is exactly the place to start, and is well worth getting started with, right now.

However, once people are active and training consistently, but have ceased to see further improvements in condition, nutrition is the area they look to in their attempts at problem determination and resolution. This is probably quite logical, but we need to approach this in a way that is logical as well. 

There is no point whatsoever in clutching at straws.

Thinking "maybe I need this" or "maybe I need more of that" is pointless, as while whatever it is might be a good thing generally speaking, all you're really doing is considering a vague suggestion. To ensure ongoing results requires strategy. 

  • First: you must be consistently working to an adequate fueling strategy.
    If you are not being consistent to begin with, any change is irrelevant.
     
  • Second: assess your strategy.
    You may require an increase or adjustment to fueling targets that are closer to optimal, or you may need to refine your strategy for meeting those requirements. 
  • Then: you can start considering "perhaps this meal schedule", "perhaps more of this macronutrient at this time of the day", and even "perhaps more total calories on these days and less on those days". Any or all of these within the context of a plan, of a strategy to meet more optimal fueling levels for improved results and condition are invaluable. Outside of that context though? It's just a vague and meaningless notion and we can't predict or expect any specific outcome from it. 
  • Finally: assess the results of this new strategy. This should be unambiguous as either the strategy works as expected subject to consistency, or it does not. Your strategy should be such that if an expected result is not seen, the reason why is self evident and the necessary change in strategy is inferred. There should be no guess work or clutching at straws at any point in the process.

The question is always "what is the optimal level of fueling at this stage, and how can I best plan to consistently meet it?". Further to that I would add "on a weekly basis" to allow for a more practical and nuanced approach. At the very least we must be consistently doing something that is appropriate and adequate.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Read This Before You "Eat More To Lose Weight"

This might seem like something of an ironic post coming from me of all people. 

After all, I'm the guy who's been saying "we need to fuel people for best performance and condition, not try to starve weight off them" for the past few years, when no one else seemed to be.

The message finally appears to be catching on, and more people are beginning to realise that slashing calories ever lower is as damaging as it is unsustainable. But before we arbitrarily replace the blanket statement of "eat less (and less) move more (and more)" with it's polar opposite, let's assess the situation to ensure that this time, we're actually giving advice that is good and helpful.

First though, let's bust some myths. 

Myth: You need to eat clean. It is the quality of foods that matters, not the calories. You don't lose weight eating "junk food", and any of the "wrong" foods will make you gain weight.

Nope. 

Of course we should all try to make sensible choices and include many healthy options, but your total energy intake is what influences your body weight.


Myth: Low Carb & Keto Diets are the best / only option for weight loss.

Nope.

This is probably redundant after the previous section anyway, but there's no benefit to low carb or keto dieting over balanced diets of the same energy provision. Some people sure do seem to like them, but personally I would see VLC & keto diets as disadvantageous for most people with an interest in long term adherence for sustainable results.

Again though, the facts are that if you go from an excessive regular energy intake and lack of physical activity to less excessive energy intake and more suitably active, you'll lose weight. Whether you cut back on carbs, on fats, or cut back across the board... from more excessive to less excessive energy intake, and especially from inactive to suitably active, you will lose weight.

Update: Upon demonstrating that Low Carb approaches are not required or preferable for weight loss, it is almost inevitable that a special pleading, goal post shifting argument will be made of the "but if they have Type 2 Diabetes..." variety. Let's knock that one on the head while we're about it, too.



Myth: When Weight Loss Stalls, Add More High Intensity Calorie Burning Cardio Workouts.
Nope.

As stated above, from inactive to suitably active is a very good idea indeed, but let's assume we're talking about people who are already quite active and participating in training. Adding more and more non-productive high intensity activity to burn calories is not only impractical, but the links above show that it will offer no benefit.

Take home point here: train productively, for enjoyment and for the specific benefits of the choice of activity. Not "to burn calories".


  Myth: The 5:2 Diet, Intermittent Fasting, Meal Frequency & whatever else.

Eh...


Again; "energy provision vs energy requirement" is the rule that matters. Forcing yourself onto a different meal schedule may mean that you eat less, but it is still the change in amount of energy intake that influences body condition, and not the change in timing of energy intake.



So far, all of this supports "eat more to lose weight". Should you really though?


Active people require a certain amount of energy and resources in order to be able to recover and adapt to training. If you're restricting to a low level of energy intake with the misguided "calorie deficit" approach, a lack of progress is likely to be due to falling well short of that amount. Introducing more "calorie burning" activity only squanders what resources you have made available in an unproductive manner.


Bottom line here: being under fueled and over worked is not conducive to good results, even when weight loss is a significant aspect of your goal.

Is that what is actually happening though?


As the saying goes; the first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool

For inactive people who are not involved in sports or training, even a "normal" amount of food will be in excess of an amount that you are putting to use, which means weight gain. In this circumstance, "eat more to lose weight" would almost certainly result in rapid gain of an even greater amount.

Here's where it gets complicated and the issue becomes contentious.

Actually not a myth: Humans are extremely likely to under estimate food / energy intake and over estimate activity levels.





It is important to include these studies for two reasons, the first of which is that people who are fixated on the calorie deficit model are likely to show you them with the inference that they prove that "the problem is that they're eating a lot more than they think they are. If they were eating the amount that they think they are, they'd be in deficit and therefore they'd be losing weight".

Yes, but no.

It's important to notice that these studies are not of athletes or on people of less excessive weight who are participating in sports or training. In my years of experience as a coach, when active people come to me and report that they are working to restrictive and low targets without seeing progress, I tend to believe them and we consistently see much better results as we increase first towards an adequate and then closer towards a more optimal total energy and macronutritient provision... including when weight loss is a goal.

Regardless, we do know that a disparity between perceived and actual intake is very common, so unless we are actually working to a plan to hit our current targets, we can't assume that we are. Intuitive eating is awesome IF you're still making progress, but if your eating habits are erratic, unscheduled, unmeasured and inconsistent... we have no reason to consider the total energy provision to be anything other than an unknown and random amount.

On a related note...

To my way of thinking just adding "more" to a random amount isn't much better than slashing below an unknown amount. Where you end up is anyone's guess.

Let's cut to the chase.

If you're overweight and inactive, first and foremost you need to become suitably active.
People who are already active, assess your consistency at training. If you're working to targets based on requirements for 5 sessions per week but you've only been making 2 lately, eating more is not likely to have the desired effect.

Now, if you're training consistently and especially if you're progressing from a beginners level to an intermediate level, from lower intermediate to upper intermediate and so on... your fueling requirements will increase as the demands on your body to perform, recover from, and adapt to training are greater.

If you have a set of intelligently determined targets for intake, but you've just been winging it as described above, you will need to start actually planning your daily intake in advance to ensure adherence to those targets, and then assess the results.

Good performance at training, good energy levels outside of training and improvements in condition might suggest that your targets are appropriate all along but you just weren't hitting them. If you had "beginner level" targets but you're not really a beginner anymore and you see no improvement in condition, that might be a good sign that you need to recalculate with your new level of consistency and proficiency in mind.  If you last 3 or 4 days and then find you are ravenous and eat everything in sight... are you thinking "start over again and this time be more disciplined" right now? Screw that. It's a sure sign that you need to recalculate and increase daily intake accordingly.

When you're training consistently and seeing good progress without paying much attention on the nutrition side, you can safely assume you're getting it right either through good intuition or because you've practiced the appropriate habits for long enough that your appetite is well tuned to your requirements and your body trusts you to listen when it tells you that it needs more. When you're not seeing progress, you need to go back and plan in advance to meet appropriate targets, and then assess the situation.

Best results will always come when training is both consistent and strategic, and fueling is closer to optimal rather than further into deficit. At the very least, you must be working to exceed a minimum adequate requirement. A couple of times with more advanced athletes I have only set a minimum requirement with an official "no maximum limit", and the results were nothing short of amazing.

Bottom line: best long term results will come from consistent participation with a strategic and productive approach to training, and anticipation of increased fueling requirements as performance improves.

A little update:  if you're looking to get started with an introductory training program & fueling guidelines, see the weight loss tab on my blog right here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Artificial sweeteners are quite safe and helpful in weight loss: masterpost.

Another master post / link dump for you all, this time all about artificial sweeteners and aspartame in particular. It's ironic that many of the people who fear monger over natural sugars also insist that artificial sweeteners must also be avoided.

It's almost as if they just have a puritanical view on food and don't want you enjoying anything sweet at all, isn't it?

Pertinent Update: July 2017

Let's start continue, with a video:



A couple of posts from some good friends of this blog:

SuppVersity have a hell of a lot of articles on artificial sweeteners, here are some helpful ones:

More Information On The Safety Of Aspartame:

    Latest Updates:

    Great infographic and supporting article from Scott Baptie. I'm more of a Pepsi Max man myself, just for the record.



    In the interests of balance:

    To be fair there are some studies that do suggest a correlation between regular use of artificially sweetened beverages and obesity and/or health concerns.  This should not be confused as to suggest that it because of those beverages that the person's diet is inappropriate and unhealthy.

    At best (or, at worst) we could interpret this data as evidence that "simply switching to artificially sweetened beverages from those that contain sugar may not be enough to ensure that your diet is appropriate over all, depending on what other choices of meals and snacks you make".

    Monday, May 16, 2016

    More of the sorts of things people get mad at me for telling you.

    If I'd known I was going to write something
    today, I probably would have shaved.

    First of all, here are some things that we know:

    • Athletes require a certain amount of energy (aka "total calories") on an individual basis subject to various factors, and a certain amount of protein, usually determined in "grams per kg of lean body mass" but there are varying opinions on exactly how many grams is required / optimal.
    • Too far above that amount means a stall in fat loss despite level of activity. More excessive still means fat gain. Also known as "calorific surplus".
    • People will lose weight when total energy intake is less than would be required to sustain current weight including fat mass at current activity level, aka "while in calorific deficit". However, the body will adapt to being too far into deficit for too long, especially while highly active, precluding further weight loss despite still being in deficit.
    • As sustaining that level of energy deficit is unlikely, weight regain is likely to occur and may be disproportionate to the increase in energy intake. aka "weight gain at an energy intake that should not be excessive under normal circumstances".

    Some of that we've known for ages, and some of it is stuff that I've observed and based my approach on, but has only recently been confirmed. Keeping all of that in mind, when active people stall or reach a plateau in terms of improving condition and body composition, what are they invariably told?

    • Cut calories (or just cut carbs).
    • Burn more calories (for example add more cardio).
    • Eat clean. 
    • Eliminate grains / sugars / whatever. Some variation on that theme.

    We already discussed why "cut calories" or "burn more calories" is counter productive advice. "Eat clean" infers that something other than energy balance is the concern and that despite being active and in deficit, something "unclean" from a puritanical, moralistic standpoint is to blame for not seeing more pleasing results.

    Too much sugar? Don't be ridiculous.
    So scrutinising eating habits to omit anything with a question mark over "cleanliness" only exacerbates the problem by creating a greater and more destructive level of energy deficit, while also associating the ability to abstain from certain foods with being a good or a bad person who does or does not deserve success & happiness.

    Since such a level of deficit is unlikely to be sustainable, the client WILL end up eating those "unclean" foods and likely in more massive quantities than she would other wise. This is another thing that we know; when foods are "banned" we tend to crave them all the more. Here we are starting to get into "restrict / binge" (and possibly purge) territory. The client is likely to be told her lack of progress is due to that one lapse in adherence when she ate "unclean", and that she needs to have more discipline and will power in the future. This goes back to what we described in the paragraph above, and perpetuates this destructive cycle.

    Let's go back and look at my first paragraph in the "things that we know" section we began with:
    Athletes require a certain amount of energy (aka "total calories") on an individual basis subject to various factors, and a certain amount of protein within that total amount.
    If you are in the habit of consuming a daily intake that is within a suitable range of that appropriate amount, you'll see great results from any effective and productive approach to training, and if you're not... you won't. Focusing on the appropriate total energy provision coming from a suitable balance of protein to fats to carbohydrates, you have an approach referred to as IIFYM. Concepts like "clean", "unclean" or "cheat meals" have no relevance, your individual food choices either fit into a total daily amount that is appropriate aka "fits your macros", or they do not.

    Unfortunately, the acronym IIFYM has become associated with a version of this approach that is kind of taking the piss a bit with a proclivity for nutrient sparse convenience foods and a lack of nutritious fruits and vegetables. Hopefully this style of IIFYM is a minority of cases, although it has been brought to my attention in the past that some so called "macro coaches" do charge people good money for diet plans fitting this description, which is entirely unacceptable.

    To distance themselves from this and to acknowledge that there is more to a healthy diet than just "hitting your macros", many of the more responsible proponents moved to the term Flexible Dieting which is an easier way of saying "hit your macros, get enough fruit and veg, make up the balance with more nutritious choices where possible but also include some for enjoyment and indulgence as you see fit".

    For me, the word "dieting" being in there has that connotation of still being focused on calorie deficits, so I named my approach "Flexible Fueling" as we are far more interested in working towards optimal fueling targets for best performance and athletic physical condition, rather than slashing further and further into calorific deficit in a destructive and misguided effort to starve and burn weight off.

    Bottom line?
    • Results, in terms of an athletic body condition from training come from:
      • Turning up regularly and giving it your best with a productive and strategic approach.
      • Consistently providing at least an adequate and preferably closer to optimal total energy provision, and sufficient protein.
    • I don't want anyone out there who is active but frustrated or unhappy due to not seeing results thinking that:
      • They need to eat less, when they're already not eating enough.
      • Any individual choice whether just once or more regularly is to blame for a lack of results, when they are not eating enough.
      • There is some correlation between not eating "the right foods", not seeing results, and not being "a good person".
    • Arbitrary and unfounded instructions like "cut carbs", "burn more calories" or "eat clean": 
      • Only take people further away from a level of fueling that will facilitate the results they desire.
      • Only take people further into a destructive level of calorific deficit.
      • Foster and reinforce disordered behaviours and ideas related to eating.
    Yep. This is the sort of thing that people get mad at you for trying to help people with and protect people from. I guess they don't like having their god given right to judge people and tell them what to do infringed upon.

    Friday, May 6, 2016

    The Most Epic Week In Review, Ever?

    Selfie of the week is a little awkward but
    at leastmy arms look huge.
    I don't always do a week in review every week, because some weeks there's not all that much to talk about. This week though? Holy crap. This week was a legit game changer as far as I'm concerned. So much happened.

    First of all though; Busted Scammer Of The Week is always a regular feature. And today we got some good news regarding perhaps one of the most disgusting and despicable scammers of all time.

    What a piece of trash.

    This following story is good news too, and if I'm not mistaken I believe the Blocked By Pete Evans page (which I was a founding admin of, but am no longer involved with) are owed credit for first exposing this dangerous and outrageous nonsense.

    We're just getting started though. Now the big stuff.

    The Biggest Loser Study was big news this week.


    This one basically confirmed what I've been saying for years now. Too far into calorie deficit for too long at high activity levels (aka over worked and underfueled) is a myopic approach to weight loss and people WILL stop seeing further fat loss at a certain point, and slashing further into deficit or increasing activity even further will not fix it. This approach will backfire over the long term resulting in weight regain even if you do stick to the regime of restricting and burning of calories.


    Low carb & keto dieting as beneficial for weight loss, finally and thoroughly debunked.


    I have saved the best for last and this really was epic. For years, advocates of low carb and ketogenic dieting have insisted that it is the only way to avoid weight gain, and the only way to lose weight. Obviously, that's not correct. All you have to do is ask around, "hey, you seem quite lean and not over weight. Are you doing low carb or keto?". You'll find there are no shortage of people who consume a moderate to high amount of carbohydrates within a total energy intake that is appropriate to them, who are quite normal sized, quite healthy, and even in quite athletic shape.

    Real world observation and clinical evidence have shown for some time that it is total energy provision relative to total energy requirement that drives weight gain, and not the mere presence of carbs in the diet as per the alternative "carbs drive insulin, insulin drives fat storage" hypothesis.

    Here's where it gets funny.

    Proponents of this  alternate hypothesis such as Gary "Good Calories Bad Calories" Taubes who have rejected all of this evidence on the basis of "we don't know who funded it and if they might have had reason to fudge the numbers to protect big potato" (or something like that) decided they would fund and design their own study, contract respected, qualified, objective and impartial researchers to carry it out and find the conclusive evidence that carbs are to blame and LCHF &/or ketogenic dieting is what we should have been told to do all along.

    Just one problem though... the research found the opposite.

    Here's what we knew already:

    Those are the sort of studies that the LCHF fanatics aren't terribly impressed by. Here's their own study, which one assumes they designed to be more stringent, rigorous and unbiased:

    Further & Related: 



    Thursday, May 5, 2016

    Sugar is not an addictive substance: masterpost

    There's so much nonsense doing the rounds about how "sugar is addictive just like illegal drugs are addictive", usually coming from LCHF cultists. So here's a masterpost of all the information to put that myth to rest once and for all.

    Here's a good article from Zoe of The Moderation Movement:
    Food Addiction Or Diet Mentality?

    And here's my collection of reviews of That Sugar Film:
    That Sugar Film: Link Dump

    Studies on sugar addition, food addiction and eating addiction:


    The plausibility of sugar addiction and its role in obesity and eating disorders.

    • The [above] predications have in common that on no occasion was the behaviour predicted by an animal model of sucrose addiction supported by human studies.
    • There is no support from the human literature for the hypothesis that sucrose may be physically addictive or that addiction to sugar plays a role in eating disorders.

     

    The mesolimbic system and eating addiction: what sugar does and does not do.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352154616300638 
    • Sucrose is reinforcing and it promotes dopamine release independent of its taste.
    • Drugs and sucrose have strong yet transient effects on the mesolimbic system.
    • Addictive drugs severely disrupt brain plasticity after long-term exposure.
    • No data currently suggest similar central adaptations following sucrose.

     

    Eating is addictive but sugar and fat are not like drugs, study says.

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-09/uoe-eia090914.php
    • People can become addicted to eating for its own sake but not to consuming specific foods such as those high in sugar or fat, research suggests.
    • An international team of scientists has found no strong evidence for people being addicted to the chemical substances in certain foods.
    • The brain does not respond to nutrients in the same way as it does to addictive drugs such as heroin or cocaine, the researchers say. 

     

    “Eating addiction”, rather than “food addiction”, better captures addictive-like eating behavior.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763414002140
    • “Eating addiction” describes a behavioral addiction.
    • An “eating addiction” is not necessarily associated with obesity.
    •  Consider “eating addiction” as a disorder in DSM-5 “Non-Substance-Related Disorders”.

    Sugar addiction: the state of the science

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-016-1229-6

    • Given the lack of evidence supporting it, we argue against a premature incorporation of sugar addiction into the scientific literature and public policy recommendations. 

    Eating dependence and weight gain; no human evidence for a 'sugar-addiction' model of overweight.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28330706

    • The current findings indicate that sugary foods contribute minimally to 'food dependence' and increased risk of weight gain. 

    See also...

    Sugars and Health Controversies: What Does the Science Say?

    http://advances.nutrition.org/content/6/4/493S.abstract
    We conclude that added sugars consumed in the normal forms in which humans consume them, at amounts typical of the human diet and for the time period studied in randomized controlled trials, do not result in adverse health consequences. Although more research trials are needed in many areas of sugar consumption and health, there is little scientific justification for recommending restricting sugar consumption below the reasonable upper limit recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 of no more than 25% of calories. 

     Bonus Content:
     Even More: Do people need to "quit sugar" to lose weight?


    Bonus Content: Studies on the effects of restricting food choices. 

     

    Selective carbohydrate or protein restriction: effects on subsequent food intake and cravings.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16844265

    • The results indicated that selective food restriction resulted in selective behavioural consequences.
    • Specifically, carbohydrate-restricted participants consumed more of a high-carbohydrate food than did controls or protein-restrictors, in addition to reporting more cravings for high-carbohydrate foods over the restriction period.
    • Overall, selective food restriction is demonstrated to have negative psychological and behavioural consequences. 

    Even more:


    Also:
    Restricting Your Children's Chocolate Could Do More Harm Than Good.
    "In terms of parenting practice, the results indicate that in the short term, restricting 'bad' foods is an effective means to promote healthier eating habits. But by restricting access you may encourage a preoccupation with unhealthy foods which in the long term could encourage the very behaviour you are trying to prevent," explains Professor Ogden.
     And finally:



    Sunday, May 1, 2016

    Ending the unhealthy obsession with calorie deficit.

    Always take a selfie.
    I'll try to make this as clear as I can. Calories In / Calories Out is definitely a thing, but people need to STOP worshiping this idea about "calorific deficit", because it's stupid.

    Now, don't get me wrong... and in fact I'll address this pre-emptively before the inevitable strawman attacks start: you cannot lose fat in a calorific surplus. If you take in more calories than you can put to use, that energy gets stored as body fat. Calories from any source as well, mind you.

    However... the EMPHASIS on being in calorific deficit is all wrong. Note how I used to capital letters to emphasise the word emphasis just now. I'm not saying "take people out of deficit". I feel like I can't just say what I'm saying any more, I have to specify what I'm not saying as well, every paragraph or so. I'm going to go ahead and predict that a few people will still miss that and make stupid comments all the same once I share this to facebook.

    Why not focus on being in deficit though?

    As a profession coach and trainer and a specialist in Flexible Dieting with an interest in eating disorder awareness, recovery and avoidance, I've had active and athletic people come to me on... one particular example that I have in mind is a female athlete who came to me a few years back on 1300 calories a day and quite unhappy. She is now well aware that she REQUIRES a 3000 calorie a day minimum in order to see best results and performance at training, and to remain injury free.

    That's something of an extreme example with very high fueling requirements, but it is quite common for me to reverse diet a female athlete from as low as 1100 or even 900 calories per day all the way up to 23, 2400, maybe 2600 calories per day subject to the amount they actually require to facilitate good results at their level of prowess at training.

    Predicting an amount that is in deficit is easy. Literally, it's any amount that's less than would support current mass (including fat mass) and activity levels. All of these programs and diets where you just have an arbitrary amount like 1200 calories to restrict to, that's just about being in deficit and it's stupid. Some "macro plan" that doesn't end on a round number? Also stupid. Those "these are the only foods you're allowed to eat" type plans? They're not even smart enough to understand that how you'd lose weight on that plan is because you would be in deficit.

    Now, on a personal level, "I just eat these foods and avoid those foods" is fine if people are happy with the food choices they're making and the results  they're seeing. I don't mean to insult people for not having a working knowledge of nutrition... other than the ones who are trying to enforce those choices onto others, and especially if they're charging money for it.

    I have digressed. Where was I?

    Picking an amount that is in deficit is easy, but it's not what is good.

    As a coach who is giving sports nutrition advice, you need to be focused on how much people require, AKA how much they can utilise. That is, how much they can put to good use to fuel performance, to recover, and to adapt to training with the creation of lean mass. FKN IDIOTS WHO ARE BOUND TO SHOW UP TO TRY ARGUE WITH ME PLEASE NOTE: "how much they can put to use" does not translate to "a calorific surplus that would preclude fat loss", no matter what way you try to twist it.

    Going back to those examples of mine from eariler: As a coach, you're never going to find out that your athlete requires 2400 or 2800 or 3000+ calories per day while you're thinking "results come from being in deficit, if you were in deficit you'd be seeing results". You won't have the BRAINS OR THE BALLS to raise their targets that high, so long as you're still married to and they're still enslaved by this brain dead notion of being focused on "calorific deficit". Rather, you're likely to slash intake targets even lower, clutch at straws about "not eating clean", or accuse the client of lying about their intake. These are the sort of things I keep getting told about, anyway.

    Understand this: Not seeing fat loss does not necessarily automatically infer that you are "not in deficit" or that eating more would mean "going into surplus". While in deficit, tapping into fat stores is only one of many adaptations the human body might make and not necessarily it's preferred option. The further you go into deficit of an adequate amount, the less energy and resources the body will make available for other functions in order to preserve those fat stores.

    Bottom line? If you're an athlete (and by this I mean anyone training with an interest in improving performance and body composition) you need to be fueled in a manner to facilitate performance and maintain condition. You can't build or maintain lean mass without making those resources available.
    If you're a coach... if you're a trainer, train people and fuel them for results. We're supposed to be qualified professionals, stop trying to starve people thin with the same sort of logic I'd be dismayed to read on some kind of pro-ana blog.

    You're not doing IIFYM if all you're doing is calculating a deficit, much less if you're just slashing further and further below some arbitrary amount.

    Thursday, April 21, 2016

    Reviews of That Sugar Film: link dump

    By no means whatsoever could this be considered
    "too much sugar". Don't let silly people spoil your enjoyment
    of nutritious & delicious foods.
    What we know about sugar is that you really don't want to have too much of it terribly often.

    What does "too much" mean, though? Well, according the World Health Organisation we should limit to no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar on a daily basis. Key word here is "added", as the naturally occurring sugars within nutritious foods are absolutely fine within the context of a balanced diet of appropriate total energy provision.

    Another word for those naturally occurring sugars is "intrinsic". We're talking about the fructose in fruits and vegetables, the lactose in dairy products, and so on. Various unsavory characters out there are making a lot of money via fear mongering over carbs in general, sugars in particular, and in some cases fructose specifically. Rarely are they actually people with a medical or dietetic background. More often they are simply marketers (at best) or outright charlatans and con men (and women).

    Again, to reiterate: intrinsic sugars within an appropriate total intake are of no concern whatsoever. Added sugars in less nutritious & more indulgent choices should be limited. No country as best I am aware has healthy eating guidelines to the contrary, all recommend that added sugars be limited. The suggestion you'll often read from Low Carb High Fat trolls enthusiasts that the official guidelines support massive consumption of sugars is ridiculous and disingenuous. In other words they are lying through their teeth.

    However it is possible that people might be unaware of the amount of sugar in some choices of foods and condiments that wouldn't seem obvious. This may be a valid concern which That Sugar Film addresses, however, none of the other claims it makes about sugar should be seen as even vaguely accurate.

    A few quick side notes:
    1. It seems apparent that anti-sugar quackitivists also similarly fear monger over artificial sweeteners and in some cases other plant based sweeteners such as stevia. There is ample and on going research to support the safety of non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame. 
    2. Sugar is not addictive "like drugs are addictive".
    3. Be aware of how much "still sugar, but not regular cane sugar" is often in expensive "sugar free" products. In some cases more so than in the conventional brands they would claim to be "healthier" than.

    Reviews of That Sugar Film:


    Do Not Believe The Shoddy Science in That Stupid Sugar Film.


    This one might be my favourite.
    Gameau’s panel of experts includes a supergroup of charlatans and cranks, [such as] the floppy-haired nutrition guru David Wolfe. A self-described “Health, Eco, Nutrition and Natural Beauty Expert” and “one of the world’s top authorities” on “chocolate and organic superfoods,” Wolfe spends his days touting the spiritual and health benefits of such things as deer antler spray (a “levitational,” “androgenic force”), baby-reflexology, and “earthing” (in which people plug themselves into the ground wire of an electrical outlet so as to “naturally discharge electrical stress from our bodies”).
    Seen outside the context of That Sugar Film, the man appears to be a lunatic.

    Sugar, sugar everywhere, but not a grain to be seen.


    Thanks to Prof. Tim Crowe at Thinking Nutrition.
    Damon claimed that his weight gain happened despite eating the same amount of food than before his high-sugar experiment. Yet only a very superficial attempt was made to estimate how much food was being eaten over the 60 days, making such a claim unreliable at best.
    So, is there something insidious about sugar calories that can lead to greater weight gain? Not really. Sugar, including fructose, is not inherently fattening relative to other foods. Its effect on body weight is from the extra energy it adds to our diets, that’s all.

    Those Sugar Films, How Do They Stack Up?


    A great write up of this and a couple of other films about sugar, from The Nutrition Press.
    Taking a closer look at the show’s talent, we find a lack of relevant expertise. The show’s chief sugar adviser, David Gillespe, is a former lawyer and founder of a software company. He has no scientific or nutrition qualifications and his book Sweet Poison, which supposedly reveals the true health effects of dietary fructose, has no scientific basis. It is certainly true that Australians are consuming too much sugar but Gillespe’s claim of 40 teaspoons as the average Australian’s daily sugar intake is an over-estimate by about 10 teaspoons. He also says that the average family of four consumes the equivalent of 6 x 1kg bags of sugar each week. Doing the math, based on his own figure of 40 teaspoons, a family of four would consume 4.48kg. Based on 30 teaspoons, this figure is 3.36kg.

    D-discussion on ‘That Sugar Film’: Diabetes Counseling Online.

    Some of these processed foods that are referred to in the film are baked beans, containing the equiv of 1 tsp of sugar per serve. Using baked beans as an example, the beans themselves are highly nutritious and 1 tsp sugar is in the sauce, which also contains nutrients such as lycopene that we need to obtain from cooked tomatoes.  That 1 teaspoon of sugar is not enough to spike your BGLs and baked beans do have a low glycemic index, so they’re a good option for us when we need a meal in a hurry.
    There are also other processed foods such as tinned and frozen vegetables, some breakfast cereals, some grainy breads and dairy products that as a dietitian I regularly encourage people to use.  If these products weren’t being recommended, then chances are that people might inadvertently choose something less nutritious in an effort to have a little less sugar. Learning to label read is so important here. Some of the healthier, lower GI breakfast cereals are really convenient options in our busy lives, as well as containing important nutrients that we need for wellbeing, despite containing some added sugars.

    Food Watch Reviews That Sugar Film.

    Damon consumes lots of liquids which have been shown to be easier to over-consume than whole foods e.g. apples vs apple juice. I’m guessing his intake DID exceed what he was eating before and these sweetened liquids were responsible for the fat gain in the abdominal region as well as the decline in liver function.

    Who ever said flavoured milk or iced tea drinks are ‘healthy’? They may be healthier choices than sweetened soft drinks but they are not on any 'Must Eat Lists' or Pyramids.