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Showing posts with label health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health. Show all posts

Dieting And Weight Loss; It's Time To Face The Facts

Real talk though; we need to face the facts about dieting for weight loss.

On any specific approach over the long term, more people are unsuccessful than are successful. On all approaches combined, more people are unsuccessful than are successful. However... while successful outcomes are the minority, they are not exclusive to any specific approach.

What can we observe or logically conclude about what enables a person to be successful with any approach to dieting?

I suggest the following:
  • They enjoy & have an appetite for enough of the included choices of food that they are satiated, or at least that hunger levels are manageable.
  • Total energy intake is far enough below "an excessive" level that would preclude fat loss, but high enough to avoid or mitigate adaptive thermogenesis aka "starvation mode" in the common vernacular.
     
  • Ideally they're including a suitable amount of reasonably healthful and nutritious choices, but some famous "stunt diets" you may have read about prove it could be done on just potatoes, twinkies, macdonalds, ice cream & whey... whatever. None of which I would personally recommend but it demonstrates an important point.
  • The eating habits they adopt fit in with their lifestyle & circumstances, and they're able to stay enthusiastic and not gravitate back towards their old habits.
  • So their are any number of overly simple answers but the reality is that for most people, success is going to be something that you have to decide upon and keep working on, on an ongoing daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, year in, year out basis. Therefore you want "the path of least resistance" in my opinion.

Now... people often attempt to 'splain to me that their personally prefered diet (usually LCHF) is "more satiating" and therefore preferable over brute force starvation approaches which work in theory but backfire long term due to the effects on metabolism.

You can refer to the above for what is wrong with this logic. It would be satiating IF you happen to enjoy enough of the foods that fit this eating style and happen to consume enough of them to meet that "adequate but not excessive" energy provision that results in weight loss without metabolic adaptation.

However if you DON'T happen to enjoy enough of those foods, then it actually does become a brute force deprivation based approach. I still don't really understand how people can be quite so low in emotional IQ that they can't grasp this concept.

ANYWAY let's wrap this up.

With the right guidance you could achieve that "adequate but not excessive, satisfied but not stuffed, weight loss without metabolic downgrade" eating pattern on ANY selection of foods without feeling afraid or guilty about ANY particular choices or needing to rule anything out (other than on specific medical grounds obviously).

That's what I teach people to do.
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The Latest On Weight Loss, According To Science And My Observations

As fate would have it, quite a few interesting articles regarding research related to weight loss have come out in the past few weeks since I posted my "why we  should probably all stop offering weight loss coaching" article of a few weeks ago.

Now, unfortunately the fact remains that long term success with weight loss goals is a statistically unlikely outcome. Therefore I suggest that anyone making any promises about weight loss with the inference of "guaranteed" results is at best overly optimistic or at worst a damn dirty liar. Certainly though there are people out there who've lost weight and kept it off... so if you have a weight loss goal, and let's quantify that and say you have a permanent weight loss goal, what you probably want to be concerned with is figuring out where your best chances of success lie, and with avoiding the mistakes that all the unsuccessful people are making.

First let's talk about exercise. You should be doing some resistance training.

This is probably not news to anyone who has followed my various social mediums for more than a few minutes by now.

Resistance training is one of the best things you can do for your health, whether you have a weight related goal or not. Reiterating about 5000 of my previous entries though, and this is important so make sure you're paying attention this time, the purpose of resistance training is a lot less to do with "burning calories" and a lot more to do with inspiring your body to take up and put more energy and resources to use in supporting lean mass, ideally at the expense of fat mass.

So it's not just that you expend energy while training (although you do, and that's good) but that your body has something productive to do with the balance of energy that remains.

And by the way for what it's worth, it absolutely IS possible to gain lean mass at the expense of fat mass, especially for beginners but also even in more experienced athletes and enthusiasts.

Q: What's a good resistance training program for a client who wants to lose weight?

Exercise selection and variations in programming obviously will vary between individuals, but generally speaking the best resistance training program for a client who wants to lose weight is the same program that you would give her if she didn't want to lose weight... subject to her levels of confidence and proficiency at exercise.

Where most people with a "weight loss" focus will screw this up is by messing with the program, adding stuff in, leaving rest periods out, performing the whole routine as a super set or a circuit, and so on, with the idea that they "need to burn more calories to lose weight". So there's an obvious mistake you should decide right now that you will resist the urge to commit in future.

A couple of related links on this point:

Just a little more on the many benefits of strength / resistance training:

I may have digressed a little so peruse those additional links at your leisure. The first one may be especially pertinent to many of the people reading this entry.

Back to the main point as per the included image above, diet is key but resistance training will facilitate the best and most consistent results.

Paradox: Diet is the key, but "diets" don't work.

Diet is a contentious topic.

On the one side of the fence you have the people who insist upon some variation of the "all they have to do is stop eating crap food, cut out carbs, cut out grains, and eat clean" theme, and on the other side of the fence you have the people who insist "all that matters is that they are in caloric deficit". However, according to the International Journal Of Obesity, “it is now well established that the more people engage in dieting, the more they gain weight in the long-term”. So with one or two very rare, very notable exceptions, both camps are full of idiots.

Now I covered an abundance of evidence in this weight loss bullshit busting master post (not to mention all the other master posts), a while back... so rather than being redundant and repeat myself again and again, let's skip to the new stuff. Suffice it to say though, it's NOT about "clean eating" and it IS about "calories in, calories out", but it is NOT about "less and less and less calories in, more and more and more calories out".

At a certain point with such approaches... whether by deliberate caloric restriction or by omission of energy dense food choices to the effect of caloric restriction... all you are doing is training the body to manage the workload, rather than to actually benefit from training. It may be more accurate to say that you are training the body to require that level of workload (expenditure) at that level of restriction (intake) just to maintain a heavier and fatter condition, and if those levels are unsustainable then weight gain / regain will occur. As would appear to fit with the observation quoted earlier.

Again though, this has been a contentious topic. The majority of the "calories in calories out" crowd until very recently have insisted that there is no way for the body to adapt to prolonged and excessive levels of caloric restriction so as to preclude weight loss. Rather they would insist "if people are in deficit they see fat loss, if they're not seeing fat loss they're lying to you about how much they eat". 

Now since the Biggest Loser Study a year or so back, people in that camp have begrudgingly admitted that the body WILL adapt to prolonged calorie deficit and this WILL preclude further fat loss, but have continued to insist that the answer to this is simply to restrict even further into deficit and/or increase expenditure further with additional exercise & activity. I did mention that I think most of them are complete fucking idiots, didn't I?

Anyway. Increasingly, more and more evidence suggests that while fat loss IS dependant upon being in caloric deficit, we must work to appropriate levels of deficit where an expectation of adherence is not unreasonable, and where we are still providing sufficient energy and resources to benefit from training, and we must not restrict indefinitely but rather adopt a strategy of working at periods closer to metabolic capacity and at periods working from a greater level of deficit.

So, really that's almost exactly what I have been talking about for years... isn't it? 

Here are some links to relevant evidence:
Now... the approaches in each of those studies are different, but collectively in my opinion they more than sufficiently refute the "further into deficit (aka less calories in) always results in greater fat loss" doctrine as pushed by far too many halfwitted CI/CO & IIFYM proponents. 

Practical application of this information:

As coaches, as overweight or obese people, and even as fitness enthusiasts of non excessive weights, we need to be aware of and appreciate the paradoxical nature of things. To wit; an energy deficit is required to facilitate fat loss, but prolonged and excessive levels of energy deficit are associated with a higher body fat percentage in athletes and with greater long term weight gain in the overweight and obese. It is similarly ironic that when changes in body weight are seen as the most (or only) important outcome of an exercise program, we tend to adopt less effective approaches due to being overly concerned with "burning calories" and we are less inclined to pursue and appreciate the many benefits of productive activity.

Regardless of whether we are overweight and obese people or whether we are relatively lean and more active people, we need to move away from a "dieting" mentality where we glorify or consider necessary the arbitrary restriction of food choices, or over restriction of energy intake. We need to cease associating the suppression or ignoring of our bodies' hunger signals with discipline, will power or other strength of character and these virtues with the attainment and maintenance of a lean and healthy physical condition.

Rather, we should take an interest in learning and practicing a productive and beneficial approach to exercise and activity. We should practice regular, consistent, structured and varied eating habits to an appropriate but not excessive total energy intake. As per the links above, there may be some evidence to support the practice of eating more earlier in the day and less later on... but I would suggest whatever meal and snack schedule each individual finds convenient, appealing and sustainable to achieve "appropriate but not excessive total energy intake" by default without being too concerned about occasional divergences.

This could simply be described as practicing self care and healthy habits, and this alone should prove conducive to better physical and emotional health as well as a leaner condition, whether actual weight changes occur or otherwise.

For those who are enthusiastic to work more strategically to maximise their potential to see the most significant and sustainable results, the process should involve periods of working closer to a "maximal" level of intake representing metabolic capacity, and periods of working to a merely "adequate" level of intake which is at a significant deficit, but still suitable to a reasonable expectation of adherence, and to reap the benefits of training without resulting in comprised metabolic rate.

Please come and discuss this entry on my facebook page.
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True Or False: Anything Short Of Perfection Is Failure

Serious training + half arsed
dietary consistency = results I'm
not entirely unsatisfied with.
Perfect adherence. Perfect discipline. Perfect ripped, shredded, lean and muscular physique. Anything less just aint good enough, right?

False.

A couple of things have got me thinking. You know that's always a recipe for trouble, me + thinking.

There's a movement on one of the industry groups in my facebook feed, and for once it's actually a good thing. It is PTs posting HONEST photos of themselves... like, no myspace angles, no convenient lighting. The real picture.

And it's like... body acceptance, right? And satisfactory results through sensible and moderate approaches; nothing restrictive or extreme. I'm all on board with that. But... at the same time it could be taken the wrong way. I'm for body acceptance in terms of "sure I could still go a little further but actually I'm quite happy where I am for now", rather than "this is as far as I can go and I am learning to accept that", as if people are REALLY at the limit of their potential and anything further is an unreasonable expectation akin to the promotion of unhealthy approaches.

They aint. The difference between where one person is at and where another is at comes down to how tight their targets are, how consistently they adhere to those targets, how consistently they hit the gym, and how long they've been at it. Oh and a better training strategy always makes a big difference too. Genetic potential though? Very few of us are anywhere near the limit of our genetic potential. That's something that only comes into it at advanced, competitive levels.

So the other thing is my feed is frequently full of idiots talking about for example "any sugar intake will spike your insulin levels, which puts you into fat storage mode for the day!" that's a cut n paste from some dumb idiot answering a question about which fruits not to eat.

The problem is... sometimes these orthorexic broscientist types are actually in killer, advanced level shape. So there's a tendency for the uneducated observer to assume the super ripped person obviously knows better about this stuff. It does seem to make sense, the person in killer shape saying "this is what it takes" would know, right? More so than the person in just "quite good" shape.

Not necessarily though. Just because what you're doing is working, doesn't necessarily mean it is working for the reasons you think it is. On the nutrition side, it is working because at the end of the day what you DO eat brings you to a suitable total intake... not because the stuff you DON'T eat would spell instant doom. When people start splitting hairs about which fruits and which vegetables are the "good" ones and which ones you need limit... jesus christ man, it is getting beyond a joke. That sort of nonsense is clearly not in anyone's best interests, least of all the general public who already think that success in weight loss is an unlikely goal requiring an unreasonable level of effort.

My own physique is down to a fairly half arsed adherence to hitting suitable targets with a mix of processed and fresh foods subject to my tastes. There are times I feel like maybe I should step it up, hit my optimal targets accurately and consistently and really prove how far you can go with flexible dieting without having to develop a paranoia about processed foods, grains, the "wrong" fruits and so on.

A couple of things about that though. Number One; do I really care enough about what fkn idiots think, to push myself beyond what I'm enthusiastic about just to prove that I'm right? And more importantly, Number Two; is that the message that I want to send to my clients and followers? That it's "not good enough" until your haters reluctantly concede that it is good enough? Number Three... actually I'll come back to Number Three a little later.

Screw that. I am about providing that balance, between LEGITIMATELY achieving great results through an effective training program, while still enjoying life outside of the gym and not have to stress out about your food choices. You do need to be a little bit mindful and organised in order to hit reasonably close to your targets, but that's not a lot to ask of yourself.

I believe people are only limited by their level of enthusiasm. Do the very bare minimum of turning up to training regularly and hitting reasonably close to your targets with the foods you were going to eat anyway, plus a little more of the good fresh stuff (fruit and veg) and you will be amazed with the results. If you then become enthusiastic enough to do a little more, provided you fuel up appropriately you'll see even better, next level results.

There's a massive difference though, in doing what you're enthusiastic about versus reluctantly doing what you feel obligated or pressured to do.

Oh I almost forgot! Number Three is that plenty of guys and girls do take this "flexible dieting" approach all the way to competitive level of body building and figure modeling. At the end of the day, it's about total intake and optimal macro ratios. Some choices of foods will fit easier into those targets than others, but nothing needs to be excluded outright because there's something "bad" about it that instantly means you won't be successful.
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Weight Loss For Idiots

I'm trying to organise my thoughts well enough to write some new articles. I have a couple of ideas for topics, and here's one of them.

I read a comment last night which I can't find right now... but a guy was some kind of exercise science student and he was saying the whole premise everything is based is that people are fat lazy idiots and if you simply tell them "here's how it's done" they won't have what it takes, so you have to keep inventing new "tricks" and fads and whatever else, and hope that at best there might be a slight benefit / marginal increase in health from the week or two that they adopt whatever the latest thing is.

So, that's quite offensive right? I mean.. the bloke was making an observation, he wasn't agreeing with it. It's an accurate assessment though.if you look at the products, methods and half baked nonsense the media, elements of the weight loss industry, and the mainstream fitness industry push on people.

Fad diets, meal replacements, burn more calories with this gadget, pill, or product... none of that garbage is going to get people into healthy shape.

The real story is pretty simple:
  • Eat the right amount for your healthy goal body type.
    Not too much and not too little, and try to include more nutrient dense, natural foods.
  • Train strategically and methodically for about an hour a day.
    Note the difference between this and "exercise to burn more calories". 
  • Get enough sleep, and manage your stress levels. 
That's all it really takes.

On the subject of nutrition... there are people out there who'll tell you it's not so simple as "just eat the right amount", but it actually is. Generally speaking, the people who push the low carb, no carb or "clean eating" (aka orthorexia, if you ask me) plans are not actually qualified nutritionists. They may be in shape, or they may have impressive qualifications in some other field... but actual nutritionists recommend a balanced diet sourced from all macronutrient groups, including some food that is just for enjoyment. There have been uncountable numbers of people throughout history (and still to this day) who have maintained a healthy weight range without avoiding carbs or adopting any of these other restrictive measures. Contrary to what these charlatans attest to, the evidence does NOT support a need for anything other than a moderate, flexible approach to nutrition.

So in actual fact it is a very simple equation, but apparently you can't sell the message "eat right and train hard"; you have to dress it up, offer some quicker fixes with fast temporary results and so on.

Is it really because people are stupid and lazy though?

Well... not necessarily. Not in my opinion anyway, but perhaps they are pessimistic. It doesn't help that there are so many advertisements and talk show segments on the TV suggesting that any amount of serious physical training is an unlikely and unreasonable expectation that aint nobody got time for. Instead it's "what if getting into shape could be as easy as sitting in a chair". For fuck's sake.

It doesn't help either, with so much conflicting disinformation about diet that people give up on that and say "it's all too complicated, I'll just starve myself instead".

I've written before about the measures that should be taken in order to address the obesity epidemic, including a code of conduct the tv and print media need to adopt. This should be legislated as well, to the effect that any segment or advertisement related to weight management must be along the lines of "to manage your weight, you must consume an appropriate range of calories and stay active. Here's our product which is one way to do this". Any of the usual "you can't do it unless these special conditions are met" type messages should be banned as being dangerous and damaging to people's health.

The underlying issue isn't even about nutrition, education or exercise. At the root of the problem is... I won't go so far as to say a mental health issue.... but... well look at it this way; These weight loss products and segments on tv treat people like lazy idiots. “oh no one is gonna actually do exercise, or eat sensibly… luckily here’s this thing that lets you lose weight just as easy as laying back on the sofa”. And people AREN’T all offended like “hey I might be a bit fat - but I'm not stupid” when they see that.

The issue behind the obesity crisis isn’t even anything that people usually talk about… the issue is, how are people so disempowered, so low on self belief that the idea of “eat an appropriate amount of your choice of foods + choose some serious but enjoyable form of exercise for about an hour a day” is out of the question. Like, that’s an entirely unreasonable thing to expect a full grown, otherwise intelligent & responsible adult to be able to do?

On a somewhat related note, here's a short video talking about the economic cost of obesity, and how financially disadvantaged people are more at risk.
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My Free Weight Loss Program, now over 20,000 served!

This is GREAT!

Actually I'm a little ahead of myself, but the counter is about to tick over to 20,000 views before the end of the day, or by the time I get out of bed tomorrow morning at least. We're now averaging about 340 a day. That's AMAZING to me.

The first weight loss success stories are already online, and I get at least a couple of messages every day from people who love my articles. It feels good to be helping people! It's helping me too, of course. It feels good knowing that there is a change going on out there, and more and more people are starting to look for real solutions, looking to get educated, and are prepared to take positive action to create the life that they want and deserve.

So, the health and fitness revolution is here. People are sick of hearing about "tricks" to lose weight. They know that restrictive diets and food avoidance is not the answer. They're seeking out more positive role models, more supportive and encouraging social networks, and getting inspired. They're starting to believe in their potential to succeed and achieve physical goals that might have seemed way too ambitious in the past.

And that means more people are training PROPERLY. Like THIS:



Pay close attention you will notice my logo on that tank top!

Who is this program for though?

The program is for anyone who wants to cut out the bullshit and just focus on what will actually produce the results they want to achieve. So far my best successes have involved people who were already training, already watching what they ate, already putting in the effort... but not quite seeing the results. Maybe they were stuck in a plateau after getting some results earlier on... in almost all of these cases, the results have come not from doing any EXTRA, but by changing the focus a little. A bit more of this, a bit less of that, perhaps with a better structure more conducive to results as well.

In probably... I don't know... there's only been maybe two or three cases at the most where I haven't actually INCREASED the range of calories per day for most people, as well.

So.. that's for people who have been following some other strategy with limited success. But even if you are BRAND NEW this program is for you. Even more so, it means I don't have to de-program you from whatever bad advice you've been fed in the past.


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The one simple weight loss trick that guarantees results every time

Use this one simple, revolutionary trick for
 amazing fat loss results like this!
Unlike other sites, this is actually one of my clients
and not just a couple of photos I stole from the internet.
I already took the piss out of those "one simple trick I stumbled onto" websites over on my other (other other) blog. You know the ones. I think about 90% of all the ads I see on the web have that as the tag line, or something similar. One simple trick, latest breakthrough by Chinese scientists, whatever else. It's always a load of garbage.

There's a reason why they market like that though. For one reason or another, that's what most people are looking for. Some "trick" that's going to solve all of their problems without any effort, inconvenience or change in habits or lifestyle. Just throw these berries in with your breakfast, or take this pill before meals, or whatever. Usually something ridiculous, and most of them use an identical approach, sales pitch and website. For that matter there are virtually identical websites for "how to pick up chicks", "how to regrow your hair", and who knows what else. I saw one about wrinkles today as well. All with the same "I couldn't believe how easy it was with this one simple trick" voice over, and the same "wait are you sure you really want to exit?" popup when you realise you've heard all this before.

It's a problem when the supposedly reputable websites will run the ads to these scam products. My Lose Weight, No Bullshit website gets slammed with traffic every day, so it would be nice to make a couple of bucks with some ads on there... but how can I be talking about scam free, healthy weight loss and then have a "5 foods to never eat" banner on the side?

Oh yeah, the "5 foods to never eat"... that's another one, isn't it?

That's the same thing again, right? The idea that there's some simple little tip or trick that'll take care of everything else. I still get rather a lot of similar enquiries... "I'm not losing weight, could it be because of this?" trying to pin the blame on one individual, particular habit. It's not like they're saying "triple chocolate chip double chocolate icecream chocolate mud cake" or something either, something clearly packing a shittonne of calories that you shouldn't be eating habitually outside of special occasions or rare treats. Usually it's something quite innocuous. In some cases morons who should know better will be talking about perfectly normal, actually quite nutritious foods and telling people "oh, you want to lose weight? Don't eat too much fruit, it has sugar init", for example. OOOH. 

So all of this stuff is terrible, right? The scammers should be banned from doing business, the reputable sites should refuse to run ads with unhelpful messages that link to these scam websites, and the media should stop running stories on any and every fad diet and making them seem credible. 

Especially when it goes beyond simply "not working", and many of these fad or gimmick diets are seriously unhealthy and damaging both to physical health as well as mental health through encouraging eating disorder style food avoidance. I've written about this at great length in the past, but the bottom line is that if you're actually interested in helping people, you don't offer up half baked quick fixes and false hope.

You know what though? The irony is that there actually IS one simple trick that will absolutely ensure success in losing weight. I have built my online fat loss coaching system around this one simple tip and it means that I can tell people with absolute certainty that they will hit a particular, specific goal weight by the end of the 12 week program.

Unless you're new you already know what I am going to say, because I say the same thing in almost every entry. Simply: consume the amount of calories appropriate to maintain your healthy, goal weight.

Now, I'll bet about half all people reading this just sighed like "ughhh, is that it? I thought he had an actual trick I could use", right? One time I even had an idiot reblog me on tumblr like "eat the right amount? That's it? That's your revolutionary break through idea? Like no one ever thought of that before!"

Before you dismiss the idea though, honestly answer the following questions:

  1. If you actually did consume the right amount, can you think of a single reason why you would not end up at your healthy goal weight? 
  2. Is there really any reason why you would not be able to eat the right amount if you decided to? I didn't say "starve yourself", either. The right amount is "enough but not too much".
  3. If you're NOT eating the right amount, how fantastically magical would any "trick" have to be to make up for this and get you to your goal weight and body type?
There you have it. Determine a suitable and healthy goal weight range, then figuring out about how many calories will be required to maintain it, and then spend maybe 15 - 20 minutes making a meal plan that fits your schedule, based on foods you like, and exercise for about an hour a day.

It's simple and the only trick you need.

Stop wasting your time with junk products and gimmick diets, and use the proven, sensible methods used by thousands of successful people instead.

There's plenty of information about my program right here on blogspot, or you can head straight to the brand new Flexible Fueling domain to sign up for VIP Access.


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Is it ok to eat fruit when you are trying to lose weight?

You'd be amazed how often this question comes up, and it doesn't help that there are "trainers" out there who give the wrong answer. I've even heard of people talking about carrots and other vegetables "having too much sugar".

Absolutely fucking ridiculous. I'm swearing because it actually makes me quite angry.

People need to have a healthy relationship with food. Obviously eating large amounts of sugar laden junk food is not good, but we're talking about fresh fruits and vegetables here. They're quite literally the best, healthiest things you can possibly eat.

So here's a little video I made to really spell this out once and for all.



There's a similar video (I shot a few different takes) on the Lose Weight, No Bullshit weblog which is all about losing weight while eating fruit, or whatever else you like.
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Common sense look at IIFYM, continued.

Read the previous entry first, it's all about the If It Fits Your Macros approach to nutrition planning for weight loss.

For long term results, all diets either succeed or fail due to providing the appropriate amount of calories. I always talk about “appropriate to maintain your goal weight” to rule out unhealthy over restriction, but as long as you are consuming less than is required to maintain your current weight, you will lose weight.

Regardless of absolutely everything else, at the end of the day you're either getting the right amount or you aint. It really is that simple.

Well... almost.

Appropriate calories is the top priority, but we also need to pay attention to the ratio of calories from protein, carbohydrates and dietary fats as well. Contrary to popular belief, all of these macronutrients are important, although ideal ratios will vary from one person to the next.

By now you can probably imagine how this theory on nutrition got its name. Someone asks “I'm trying to lose weight, is it OK to eat [insert particular food choice here]?”, and the answer invariably is “if it fits your macros”. In other words, if overall intake is suitable to fuel, recover and adapt to exercise while maintaining your goal weight, individual choices of foods do not matter.

Now quite often the particular food that they might be asking about is a perfectly healthy, normal choice of foods that there's no good reason to avoid. With that being said though, even the healthiest foods will cause weight gain if eating them means that you end up consuming more calories than are necessary to maintain your current weight. Similarly, even a less healthy food choice will not cause weight gain unless you exceed your maintenance level of calories.

So, does this mean people can eat junk food and still lose weight?

It depends. Junk food tends to pack a lot of calories into a small amount of food, and usually those calories are predominately from sugars or fats. Junk food also has that addictive quality where (if you're anything like me) even though you say “I'll just have one”, you end up going back for another 6, or until there's none left. So, while it's possible to include some food purely for enjoyment rather than for nutritional content, it makes it a lot harder to end up meeting your targets for overall calories and macronutrient ratios at the end of the day.

Why IIFYM is the logical choice for weight loss.

OK! Going back to that list of common diet tips from earlier, astute readers might have picked up a couple of references to some legitimate approaches in amongst a lot of stuff which is pretty much nonsense. So if you're offended because you think I'm talking about favourite approach, or something your favourite body builder uses, or for any other reason because you think I'm saying “that's no good, that won't work” hold up for a moment while I explain.

First up, I'm not in competition shape and I do not coach people in contest preparation. If anyone out there wants to tell me that specific meal timing or frequency (some of the other stuff too) gives them an edge in contest preparation I am happy to take their word for it. With that said, the body builders I follow and attempt to learn from mostly just talk in terms of “this macro ratio for off season, and this ratio for contest preparation”.
 
Either way, we're not talking about nutrition plans for contest preparation here. What I'm interested in is taking people from overweight or obesity into amazing shape, and getting the best results possible with the simplest possible approach.

So in the case of an overweight or an obese person who may have tried to lose weight without lasting success several times already, the last thing they need is a complicated plan that focuses on the minute details rather than the big picture. They most often already have a bad relationship with food and have formed any number of negative beliefs about their ability to lose weight (“I can never stick to a diet” or “I don't like healthy food”, for example).

The last thing these people need is some complicated set of rules that is at best fine tuning for elite level competitors, and at worst entirely irrelevant.

Instead, what if you could build your own weight loss diet based on foods you will actually eat, and timed to fit your schedule? As long as it actually does fit your macros, how could you possibly go wrong?

Making it work.

Obviously it's not just a matter of choosing your favourite foods and going to town on them. We need to determine our target calorie and macronutrient guidelines first, and then start developing a meal plan to suit. One option would be keep notes on all meals, snacks and beverages consumed in a day, and then tally up the macronutritional content. From here it is easy to see which are the bad choices that are putting you into surplus calories (which means weight gain), and swap them out for some more appropriate choices. In many cases it may not require a particularly drastic change in eating habits.

Oh, you still want more?

Drop your details in the box at the top of the page, and there'll be a whole heap of quality, free information coming your way. Alternatively you can visit the brand new Flexible Fueling website instead, and subscribe there.

I've been writing about this IIFYM stuff for quite a while now, way before it went mainstream. Here's one of my earliest articles about IIFYM, and another comparing IIFYM with conventional weight loss dieting.
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IIFYM - Common Sense Approach To Weight Loss

It is a little ironic and unfortunate that while the motivation to lose weight may come from wanting to take better care of their health, the average overweight or obese person seems to adopt an unhealthy weight loss strategy more often than not. Usually this means extreme calorie restriction in the form of a crash diet, whether in the form of one of the many popular fad diets, meal replacement products, or just plain old “not eating”.

I would hope that anyone reading this article with an interest in health and fitness would agree that “food avoidance” is never a healthy option, even as a short term measure. Restriction leads to conservation, and it should be common knowledge by now that crash dieting invariable leads to weight gain as soon as the dieter returns to their usual eating habits. Not just gaining back the weight that they lost by starving themselves, but actually ending up heavier and more unhealthy than they started.

Perhaps even more damaging than the physical weight gain though is that each failed attempt to lose weight can reinforce negative and incorrect beliefs such as “I can't lose weight and I'll always be fat”, or even worse “eating makes you fat, not eating makes you lose weight”. Although there is a growing industry in products that take advantage of and propagate these messages, as fitness professionals or enthusiasts and decent human beings I'm sure we can all agree on how important it is that we combat these negative and untrue beliefs with practical, common sense advice on dieting, and the message that all human beings can get into shape and be healthy and happy through appropriate nutrition and exercise.

So that's crash dieting well and truly ruled out, forever!

What are some better options though? Our hypothetical overweight or obese person may be fortunate enough to have a friend or co-worker who knows (or at least, thinks he knows) something about training and nutrition who they can turn to for advice. Or, perhaps they get online and start researching the latest in legitimate dieting strategies as used by fitness models or body builders in contest preparation.

Depending on who's advice they follow, the dieting tips may be some or all of the following:
  • Eat a particular number of meals per day.
  • Eat only at these times of the day.
  • Only eat these types of foods, never eat those types of foods. 
  • Never eat these types of foods at the same time as those types of foods.
  • Only eat these types of foods in the morning, and only eat these types of foods in the afternoon. 
  • Avoid anything with a high glycaemic index.
  • Cut out carbs.
  • Cut out fats.
  • And perhaps my personal favourite; “Just eat clean”.
What's missing from this list?

Let me put it to you another way. Imagine I get an email, or I have a conversation with a member at the gym and they tell me “Dave, why aren't I losing weight? I'm eating 6 small meals a day, nothing after 7pm, I've cut out this, increased that, and I'm eating pretty clean. I should have lost more weight by now. What gives?”

What do you think I am most likely to ask them before I can hazard a guess at why they are not seeing results?

Simply put: How many calories are you getting in a day?

Let me break it down for you this way. There are four ranges of calories that a person could be consuming on average, as follows:
  • Excessive to current requirements, resulting in weight gain through increased body fat.
  • Suitable to maintain current weight. 
  • Suitable to achieve and maintain a healthy goal weight. 
  • Insufficient for good health, with unpredictable results that may include weight gain.
There would be some grey areas in between, but in short “you are either consuming an appropriate amount of calories to maintain your goal weight, or you are NOT consuming an appropriate amount of calories to maintain your goal weight”.

Continue to the next entry on IIFYM For Weight Loss.

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information about burning calories through exercise

There's lots of new reading material over on the Lose Weight, No Bullshit site that you should check out. Start with my Eat More, Do Less; Lose Weight post from earlier in the week if you have not seen it already.

What we talked about in the that instalment was determining our actual requirements, rather than just sticking to the numbers we expect to work based on our mathematical formulas. As I said, in most cases we will get an accurate prediction using the Mifflin - St Joer equation... but if we're not seeing results, we're not using the right targets.

These days the issue often gets further confused by the popular habit of tracking (or attempting to) the amount of calories burned while exercising. I've discussed this already in the Cardio vs Weight Training entry (about half way down) in the Free Weight Loss Education Program. So, what I notice on people's weight loss & exercise blogs is that they seem to be talking about three different sets of calories they need to work to. One being their "base" or minimum requirement, then the amount they have burned off at training, and then a third amount which is the extra they need to "eat back" due to training.

Or something. I can barely follow the logic of it all, to be honest with you. It just seems way over complicated and confusing, and that's never the best strategy for anything in my opinion. I talk about it more in this post about eating back calories burned while exercising.

Over the past few years an idea seems to have spread that "more calories burned" = "a better workout". Well, without getting too pedantic and going into the difference between a workout and training for results, I don't think this is necessarily correct. So in this entry I talk about the difference between training methodically to produce a specific result, and just working out to burn calories.

Plenty of good information! Study up!
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How the diet industry exploits vulnerable people.

I really should say "diet scam artists" rather than "diet industry" because I don't like to tar the genuine people people with the same brush as the horrible ones.

Over the past month or so I seem to have made a bit of a name for myself by calling out certain people and products for the dangerous and unhealthy methods they are pushing, or for the offensive and unethical business and marketing strategies they use.

I was thinking about it, and it kind of makes sense. I had a career in Security for 9 or 10 years, and most of that I would describe as "standing my ground against horrible people" and "looking out for vulnerable people". It makes sense that I've found myself doing more or less the same thing in terms of trying to stop horrible people from exploiting vulnerable people with harmful messages and dangerous products related to diet and weight loss.

So far I've been calling out the worst people in the world as far as the world of (what is supposed to be) health and fitness is concerned, in the order that they've come to my attention.

First up, literally the worst thing imaginable. I called out Dr Charles Livingston and asked him how could sleep at night while his Fat Loss Factor Diet Program Is Marketed To Anorexic Teens Via Spam Floods On Tumblr And Pinterest. He didn't want to talk to me though, for some reason.

While on the subject of the Fat Loss Factor, that's not all these people are up to. It came to my attention that   the "success stories" on their marketing sites are actually Stolen Before and After Photos From Tumblr Weight Loss Blogs. That is, they steal photos from people who've lost weight through putting in the effort with exercise and sensible nutrition, and claim credit for it even though the people have never used their product. That's pretty shifty!

Word is spreading about these horrifying tactics, and a few other websites have ran reports about it since.

Finally I called out a so called "celebrity fitness guru" for pushing some of the most ridiculous ... no, not "some of" but actually THE most ridiculous nonsense disguised as exercise advice that I have ever seen in all my days. You call also read about how the Tracy Anderson Diet Plan Results In The Same Effects Of Malnutrition As Found In Anorexia Patients in another article I reference.

As I said on my facebook the other day, there will always be differing opinions on the best methods to lose weight and get into shape, and what's best for one person may not necessarily be the best choice for someone else. What's not up for debate though, is that human beings are a species that requires food. Any time some moron starts telling people "stop eating food if you want to lose weight", there is gonna be a fight.

People need to consume The Right Amount of food. Not too much, not too little. There's a false perception that "less calories" or "eating as little as possible" is better for weight loss... but how could "less than enough" possibly be better than "The Right Amount"?

By the way, Dr Oz; you're next.

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Choosing an exercise program for weight loss.

I used to say "the best form of exercise is the one that you're more likely to do, so choose something you can get enthusiastic about it and then go and get stuck into it". It makes sense, right?

Here's the thing though. When it comes to producing a specific physical result, not all forms of exercise are equally effective. Anything is better than nothing at all, but if you're serious about getting results you need to be doing what is actually required to produce those results.

First let's consider the factors that might influence you to make a particular choice of training program.
  1. It fits with my current self perception.
  2. Social or entertainment value.
  3. It will actually produce the physical result that I desire.

Option 1 ties in with what we discussed in an earlier entry, and this piece about how your beliefs influence your choice of program, over on my business site. To summarise, people often adopt an exercise strategy that fits in with who they think they are now, rather than who they are trying to become. Subconsciously they gravitate towards something that's unlikely to produce a result, due to not really believing that it is possible for them to successfully achieve the result.

Option 2... well, you know. This might be the latest trend in group fitness, and even some personal trainers market more on "variety" so that "you won't get bored doing the same workout twice" rather than actually promising specific results. I guess... anything that gets up and active, working up a bit of a sweat and feeling good about yourself is a good thing. On the other hand I'd be a little concerned that if they're putting in a decent effort to something that won't produce the required result, eventually they're likely to lose motivation, or worse, start to believe that it is not possible for them to achieve the result they are looking for. That's worst case scenario, but perhaps the best case scenario of this activity leading into some more serious training towards a specific result is just as likely.

Which leads us to...

Option 3. Clearly the most favourable, logical and desirable option.

The best advice I can offer people is, if you have a specific result in mind... first off, your goal should be to achieve your dream body... not just "to be slightly less overweight" or something reasonable like that. Forget reasonable. Be ambitious! Now, someone in that sort of shape already... how would they train? Now obviously as a new person going from no active to some activity, you can't expect to match the performance of someone who as already achieved your goal. However, you most certainly can (and should) attempted to emulate their approach.

More often, people think along the lines of "well, that's what I'll do once I've gotten into better shape... but I'll just stick to this other activity for now, that is more suitable to my current shape". In other words you could say "I'm a fat person, so I'll train like a fat person until I'm in shape, and then I'll train like an in shape person!"

The obvious problem here is that transition never occurs. If you want to get into shape, you must train to the best of your ability, in the style of someone who is in the sort of shape you would like to be in. If your goal is to lose weight, why would you do what all the other people who are failing to lose weight are doing? You must "begin with the end in mind", and train accordingly.

If you are serious about learning how to manage your weight and build a lean, toned and attractive physique, you should check out my brand new "Lose Weight, No Bullshit" site and study up! It has everything you need to know, and it is free.

Follow this link for more information about my Personal Training And Weight Loss Services In Brunswick.
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Weight Loss Education and Exercise

This is BRAND NEW and exciting. I've been working on a new Weight Loss Education and Exercise Program for the past few weeks, and finally launched it officially yesterday. I still plan to add some more content, but already there's enough there to keep people busy for a couple of weeks.

What I have noticed lately (and this is a good thing) is that more people are genuinely interested in learning the hows and whys of fitness and nutrition, rather than just wanting someone to give them "a diet" to blindly follow. People actually want to take control and take responsibility for their own outcomes, and to understand what they should be doing and why they should be doing it.

And these are really the people I'm most interested in working with. The people who actually want a genuine solution that will deliver results. The only problem though is that there is SO MUCH information out there that is incorrect, unhelpful, or actually unhealthy and dangerous (not to mention all the scams!) that it is really easy for people to get lead down the wrong path.

So at the same time... I realised I had so much information already written up and posted at various locations around the internet, as well as a heap of stuff typed up on the computer but never published... I decided it would be a good idea to organise everything and put it together as an education program all in the one place, indexed and ordered. It's also a nice way to showcase my writing on the subject of health and fitness, which is something I intend to develop as a career path in the future.

Anyway enough of the background info... here's the gist of what I cover in the education program.
  • Using BMI to determine your goal weight.
  • IIFYM Nutrition Theory.
  • Sample 1700 Calorie IIFYM Meal Plan.
  • Belief Systems, Self Perception and how they influence your choice of weight loss / fitness / exercise program.
  • Resistance Training or Cardio; which is better for weight loss?
  • Introductory Resistance Training Program.
  • Interval Training Routine.
  • And it almost goes without saying that I do a lot of health, fitness & weight loss myth busting and scam busting as well.
  • I even finally, definitively answer the enduring question "Does Eating Bread Make You Fat?", once and for all!
If I do say so myself, this has come together nicely and it is an awesome program. If people read one article a day, I'd go so far as to say that within two weeks they'll have a better understanding of nutrition and exercise programming for weight loss that the average newly qualified personal trainer.


Go have a look.

Get Educated, Get Empowered, Get Results!

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IIFYM vs other weight management strategies


First off, conventional crash / starvation dieting. We all know by now that this doesn't work. You might even know this from personal experience. By definition, when you talk about "going on a diet" the implication is that it is a temporary measure, and a temporary measure can only produce a temporary result... unless you count the actual long term result which is actually GAINING weight when you come off the diet.
There's about 8 million different versions I've seen people (coworkers when I was a corporate square) go on and off. Soup diets, yogurt diets, cabbage diets... the list goes on and on but they're all boil down to the same thing; eating as little as possible. Also known as "starving yourself to lose weight". Something we all shake our heads and say "oh isn't that terrible" when there's a story about teenage girls with eating disorders, but as grown adults we'll adopt the same unhealthy, unsustainable and self-destructive habits in order to shed some weight.
I've already talked about the VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) products as well, which also push this false notion of "eating as little as possible to lose weight". As I've said, it's not a good strategy for weight management in the first place, and it's a TERRIBLE idea if you are remotely interested in being healthy and / or happy.
Here's another article I've published about why conventional weight loss methods and in particular Very Low Calorie Diets are dangerous and ineffective. If you could give it a rating of "awesome" when you're done reading, that would be nice.
Since you're here reading about how to lose weight through sensible nutrition and exercise I'll go ahead and assume that you're not interested in these phony "quick fix" products anyway so we'll move right along.
What is IIFYM, anyway?
IIFYM stands for "If It Fits Your Macros". Macros being short for "macronutrients", better know as Proteins, Fats, and Carbohydrates. The idea is pretty simple; at the end of the day you are either (a) consuming the appropriate amount of calories (and appropriate ratio of Proteins, Fats and Carbs) or (b) you are NOT consuming the appropriate amount of calories to achieve and maintain your goal weight.
So when people might ask "is it OK to eat [insert particular food here] while I'm trying to lose weight?" the answer is "if it fits your macros". In other words, will eating that food mean that you end up consuming too many calories over all? If it won't, then it is OK.
There's an article on my business site about how to reach your goal weight with IIFYM dieting, so if you go and read that one it will save me from repeating myself too much here.
To summarise though... there's a lot of talk about needing to time your meals in this way or that way, not eat certain foods at the same time, not eat certain foods are particular times of the day, glycemic index and so on... let me put it to you like this:
Let's say I have a client who needs to lose 20kg to get down to our primary goal of BMI 23, which for the sake of example we'll say is 60kg. So I crunch the numbers and come up with a plan of 1700 calories with 40% from protein, 40% carbs and 20% fats which should be about right to support a healthy 60kg and get results from training. Now, you're trying to tell me that's not going to work unless she spaces her meals precisely 3 hours apart, and we can forget the whole thing if she eats a fucking potato after 4pm?
Ridiculous! If your body requires x amount of calories and you do not exceed that amount, it is going to utilise those calories regardless of what time of day you consume them. Especially when we're eating at a calorie deficit (ie - less than required to maintain current bodyweight), as if your body is going to say "wow I could really use this fuel for energy and recovery from that workout this afternoon, but it's late in the day so instead it goes straight to the love handles". Preposterous.
What about "clean eating" though?
Absolutely. If you're currently indulging in high calorie junk foods, and you "clean up" your diet by eliminating these and replacing them with more nutritious choices you are quite likely to lose weight. Of course no matter how "clean" you eat, too many calories is too many calories. And I must reiterate that too few calories is no better than too many. Personally I want to be certain. I want to do the maths and come up with a plan and be 100% confident of success.
The other issues with "clean eating" are that (a) it is such a vague and subjective term, and (b) people can get far too carried away with it and it becomes something more like orthorexia.
Remember; results come from what you do habitually.
This is important because it should take some of the stress and pressure out of dieting. If you are in the habit of consuming the right amount of calories to support your goal weight, the results will come. So having a small slice of cake at your friend's birthday party doesn't spell the end of your progress even though it might mean that you exceed your targets on that particular day. Even if you do go a bit overboard, as long as you get back on track the next day it is barely even a bump in the road.
Keep it in perspective.
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More truth about diets

A controversial subject I have been writing about a lot lately. But when you think about it, diets have been a hot topic for decades now... ironically when I think about how long diets have been a hot topic, it seems to coincide with the amount of time concern over the increasing numbers of overweight and obese people as been on the rise. Since they're related topics it may not seem so ironic, until you consider that obesity is now at pandemic levels despite at least 30 years of public obsession with various diets. Clearly something is not right with this situation. These diets don't seem to be working.

Before we look at the current crop of popular or fad diets, let's take a brief look at dieting history over the previous decades.

If you're old enough, you'll remember when fats were considered the root of all evil, leading to all manner of health complications. Eggs were considered unhealthy, for example. Eggs! You would scarcely believe this now, 30 or more years later.

Things turned around in the late 90s / early 2000s when the Atkins Diet suddenly became a worldwide phenomenon. Where fats had been demonised in the past, suddenly carbohydrates were the problem and we were encouraged to get stuck into those fats instead, along with high protein from meats.

Somewhere in between (around 1985 to be exact) the Fit For Life diet was the big thing. Now, this one focused more on the timing and combinations of different types of foods, rather than on calorie counting. For example, eat nothing but fruit before noon, don't combine protein and carbohydrates in the same meal, and avoid dairy as much as possible.

There are numerous other fad diets with a variety of names and approaches. Meal frequency became the big thing for a while, and we were encouraged to eat small meals every 3 hours to "boost metabolism", amongst other things. The Glycemic Index became a focal point too, with faster digested carbohydrates being associated with fat gain due to increases in insulin levels, amongst other things.

Where are they now?

Mostly forgotten, right? These days when you see or hear these particular diets mentioned it is in the context of an "I even tried this, back in the day... hey everyone was doing it!" type list of failed weight loss attempts. Now to be fair, both Atkins and Fit For Life were designed to be long term solutions, so maybe if people had stuck with them long term they would have had long term success. I would speculate that most people merely tried the initial phase and then returned to their regular eating habits, meaning a return to weight gain.

What have they been replaced with?

This is where I get controversial.

I've already talked a lot about how I feel about Very Low Calorie Diets, meal replacement products, appetite suppressants and so on. I hate all of that garbage. Aside from not actually being a good strategy to maintain a healthy weight over the long term, these products send a damaging message that "food makes you fat", which I believe contributes to the increasing instances in eating disorders amongst young people.

Recently I've been made aware of a few of the currently popular diets put out by self proclaimed "obesity researchers" who I don't want to name in case I get sued... but it only takes a cursory glance at their websites to see that the extent of their research seems to be reading the Atkins and Fit For Life books, combining some of the incorrect concepts contained therein and putting it out again under a new name. I am going to lump all the ketogenic and "caveman" diets in under the "rebranded Atkins" label as well.

What's my issue with all of these diets?

Well, it's not so simple as to say that they don't work. Maybe if people stick to them consistently they will maintain results, but history has shown that most people are unable to do so.

Why? In my opinion; too many rules.

That's not the real issue though. The issue I have is that all of these diets promote the notion that certain foods "make you fat", or at the very least "stop you from losing weight". And we're not just talking about cakes and cookies here. Various of the so called paleo or "caveman" diets actually ban all legumes, for example. Of all the things, LENTILS make you fat now? Really? Other diets (Harcombe diet for example) actually recommend avoiding fruit, claiming that the sugar content will keep you fat. FRUIT? Can they actually be serious with this nonsense? It goes without saying that almost all of these diets are also intensely phobic of grains and bread in particular, for some reason.

All of these messages are entirely incorrect and irresponsible. As I talked about earlier, they encourage that dangerous "eating makes you fat" thought process that leads to eating disorders. I believe you cannot successfully manage your weight long term unless you have a healthy attitude towards food and enjoy a variety of foods in moderation. Being afraid or ashamed of eating is not healthy or helpful.

The bottom line.

Food does not make you fat. Calories are fuel that your body needs to function and thrive. Particularly for those who participate in exercise, you must be adequately fuelled to recover and adapt to training.

Regardless of the source of calories (protein, fat, carb, high GI, low GI or whatever) your body can ONLY store fat when the intake of calories is in excess of what is required to maintain your current weight and adapt to training. Back in primitive times such as the 1990s tracking your intake of calories may have been an arduous task leading to the rise of the restrictive "no calorie counting required" approaches we have discussed, but in the modern age of technology we have a myriad of choices of free resources at our fingertips that will do all the work for us. There is no excuse at all to be too lazy to do this!

Again I'll repeat the bottom line here, with an example.

Let's imagine that we have used the Mifflin - St Joer equation to determine that to maintain your current bodyweight (taking into account your daily activities and exercise schedule) would require 2300 calories... and then we only eat 1800 calories per day.... regardless of how much fruit (or whatever else) you eat or at what time, how can your body possibly store extra fat? Body fat comes from energy intake that is surplus to requirements, not from particular "bad" foods. And especially not from eating fruit!

A little plug just to finish up on: I just launched my brand new "Lose Weight, No Bullshit" FREE Weight Loss Education & Exercise Program, and if you check it out and read one article a day you be very well equipped to take control and make some amazing changes in terms of your health and body weight.
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