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Are carbs really making you fat?

Transformational Nutrition carbs making you fat

There is a commonly held myth that reducing carbohydrates promotes weight loss and it is indeed a very convincing argument.  We have all tried a low-carb diet at least once in our life, and the chances are that it worked.  Think about it, reducing processed, calorie-dense carbohydrates and replacing them with protein and whole, unrefined foods will drastically reduce your calories and therefore your waistline. 

Furthermore, research has shown that eating more protein, as well as fibre, keeps you fuller for longer so you will subsequently lose weight.  It isn’t cutting carbs alone that makes us lose fat.

Insulin Hypothesis

Carbohydrates raise the hormone insulin in our bodies and there is a misconception that this hormone makes us hungry and prevents us from burning fat choosing to store it instead.  It goes something like this:

1. We eat carbs

2. Insulin is released

3. It makes us more hungry

4. We store fat

It is important to note, however, that whilst carbohydrates do cause insulin to spike, this is a natural process that occurs to regulate hunger not increase it.  Insulin is in fact an appetite suppressant and a very powerful one at that.  Whilst it does cause blood sugar to rise, this doesn’t continue all throughout the day.  It only takes place in response to a meal.  Here is how it actually works (image from James Krieger):

Image result for james krieger carb hypothesis

Whilst insulin is high, your body does tend to burn carbohydrates over fat (highlighted in green) but once it has reduced again fat is burned (demonstrated in blue).  So, as you can see, it all balances out over the course of 24 hours.  Furthermore, evidence has demonstrated that protein can have just as much an impact on insulin release as carbohydrates do so purely demonising carbohydrates is ludicrous!

Are Low Carb Diets Actually Superior?

Transformational Nutrition no carbs

There has been a plethora of research into this area in recent years and they all draw the same conclusion; low carb diets do work in the short-term but they are no more effective than any other form of calorie restriction

One study showed the same amount of weight loss in participants when they followed a high carb diet proceeded by a low carb version. 1.1lb was lost in both scenarios despite the fact that the low carb diet saw insulin reduce by half. This effectively disproves the insulin hypothesis as have many other studies that I have referenced in other blogs.

As I discuss here, weight loss doesn’t magically occur just by restricting a certain food group – it all comes down to calories in vs calories out.  When you are eating less than you burn, you will lose fat with or without carbohydrates in your diet.

Do Carbs Make You Gain Weight?

It is clear that you do not need to restrict your carbohydrate intake to lose weight but what about the notion that carbohydrates make you fat?

This idea stems from the fact that when we eat carbohydrates, we prioritise burning these over fats.  However, this is a transient process and once complete, our bodies go back to burning fats as pictured in the diagram above.  It is all part of homeostasis; our body’s way of regulating itself so that it all balances out at the end of the day.

Transformational Nutrition carbs fat

Contrary to some claims, it is very rare that carbohydrate is ever ‘turned in to fat’.  This can occur but only when carbohydrates are over eaten on a HUGE scale.  One study showed this to happen when 1000 grams of carbohydrates were eaten in a day – to put this in to context, the average UK female eats less than 200 g a day when not on a low carb diet so would have to eat at least 5 times as much!  Not very comfortable….

Fundamentally, numerous studies have shown that when calories are like for like, the same amount of weight is gained when fats or carbs are over consumed.

They have further demonstrated that carbohydrates do not influence body weight any more than fats do when a person is not overeating and therefore in energy balance.

Summary

When calories are matched, there appears to be no ‘best’ way to prevent weight gain or promote weight loss.  It ultimately comes down to the amount you eat not what you eat and this should be driven by personal preference.

Transformational Nutrition unrefined carbs

With that said, processed, greatly refined carbohydrates should not make up the majority of your diet.  If you do choose to retain carbs in your diet, choose whole, unprocessed versions whenever possible.  High carb junk foods are lacking essential nutrients, don’t fill us up and ultimately lead to us overeating.  This excess of calories is what is at the root of the obesity epidemic, not carbohydrates as such.

However, if you find that a low carb approach is the best way to keep your calories low and maintain your health then go ahead.  Just be aware that it is not the only approach but it may well be the best one for you as it helps you to stay on track.

But if it is a struggle and you love your carbs, then there is no reason not to eat them as long as your calories are in the right place.

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The 80/20 Rule And How To Apply It

Whilst we should all aim to eat as healthily as we can as often as we can, being too restrictive more often than not leads to weight regain.  Making consistent nutrition changes that suit your lifestyle is the key to losing & maintaining fat loss.  This is where the 80/20 rule can work.

How it works

The principle is simple; eat whole, unprocessed or minimally processed foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole unprocessed grains, 80% of the time.  This allows you to indulge in foods you love, that may otherwise hinder progress, 20% of the time.  You can choose to do this on either a daily basis or by having a ‘day off’ every week.  We recommend that you do it daily as it will help you to avoid cravings and achieve a more sustainable balance but if you do decide to have a ‘day off’, then you must ensure that you still remain within your calorie allowance for that day.

Focussing on whole, natural foods for the majority of your diet will lead to you feeling more energised, happier and healthier.  You will find that your activity levels along with your mood increases and your results will be far better.

Guidelines on 80% foods

These should come from natural, unprocessed sources such as:

Protein

Fish, lean meats, eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, protein powders, tofu.

80/20 diet rule

Carbohydrates

Rice, potatoes (sweet and white), oats, quinoa, vegetables, salad, fruits, beans/legumes.

Transformational Nutrition fibre

Fats

Avocado, raw nuts, oily fish, olive oil, nut butter, butter.

This list is my no means exhaustive, it just serves as an initial, informative guide.

AND REMEMBER, NO FOODS ARE BANNED ENTIRELY

Just try to eat the majority of your food from natural sources 80% of the time and do not feel guilty for indulging once in a while.

Have a question about nutrition? Confused about anything that we have posted? PING US and the relevant coach will get back to you with an answer.

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‘Well meaning’ – is it acceptable?

Is ‘well meaning” good enough?

‘It’s ok, they meant well…..’

This is a topic that has raged in my head for a while.

The first time I heard someone really address the question of ‘is “well meaning” good enough?’ directly was in the beginning fo 2018 whilst completing my MNU nutritional certification – Martin was address the topic in a video on social media.

Its gnawed away in my head on & off for a while, and whilst I was watching a bit of Sunday brunch yesterday the topic was brought to the front of my mind once again.

The guy who played Ken Barlow was being interviewed…

They were discussing the release of his new book, and although I can’t quite remember the reason why, he started going on about how bad sugar and carbs are.  How they were the reason that we are getting fatter.

Now whilst his intentions are 100% well meaning, that type of talk is dangerous.

The facts are that it’s not sugar or carbohydrates that are the cause of the nation becoming fatter, increases in obesity and related conditions/diseases. It’s the excess calories that’s the problem, not a set food type/group.  You could also add in how, as a nation, we are becoming less active, as well as the social elements like losing connection with food and where it comes from and how to cook etc.

On the MNU course, Martin has a phrase for these type of people….the ones who mean well, but don’t really have a clue. I’m not going to repeat the comment that was used word for word – I can’t remember it specifically, but this ‘well meaning’ scenario  seems to be popping up more and more.

People with no education making bold statements about a topic and being incorrect.  This is the same principle as people saying/advertising that they are X specialist coach, run a program…and they aren’t.  Using technical and fancy words to make themselves sound amazing.  Recently I’ve worked with a number of people who have been to such set ups – buying into a product – with the same end result – injury.  Our sessions have all started with addressing all the issues/injuries (with the support of Hannah@Restore) that have picked up, with the end results NOT being what was written on the tin.

It frustrates me massively …..

Massively massively….

Before putting pen to paper I even discussed this topic with some of my colleges as I was questioning my motives…was I simply being a dick about it all? It was only when I hear someone else discuss it, and present that standpoint that I realised that I wasn’t being a dick.

I can accept that I’ve been in this industry a long time, have gained a huge amount of knowledge and experience, and that I have high standards…plus I defiantly know I went through that stage as a PT when ‘I was right’ and ‘everyone else was wrong’. My position now far clearer – using the principles of training, nutrition and lifestyle management to help people become a better version of themselves. If the end result wasn’t scaremongering, adding to people’s already poor relationship with food, people being injured and being ripped off then it wouldn’t annoy me as much, but unfortunately these things happen and that is something I detest immensley.

I’m pretty good at NOT making statements about topics I know nothing about….I refer to specialists, or go find them. I will go as far as ‘it’s fucked!’ when something isn’t working/broke, but then I leave it to someone in the know to expand on the specifics.

When giving out advice, I am always clear on the words I choose, and more often than not seek peoples clarity before our conversation is over.  Likewise, when coaching, I use my knowledge and experience to react to what’s actually happening in front of me at that specific time.  I also  (as much as possible) look to get the individual involved in some of the thought processes, helping them make their own conclusions based on the facts presented.

So whilst people may accept that ‘it’s ok, they meant well!’, when it comes to people’s health and wellbeing I don’t accept that as a reason.  We have to hold ourselves AND others accountable and take ownership of the services we deliver.  As coaches we have to develop a strong underpinning subject knowledge base and apply principles to our coaching.  This process NEVER stops. Whilst I cant hold everyone else accountable, I can hold myself accountable to standards, and the immediate coaches around me.  We ask each other for help, refer to each other, and discuss clients to get the best possible outcome.

At Custom Fitness,all the coaches/therapist talk to each other.  Like I outlined above.  Its one of the many things that I feel makes us completely unique – and its something that I’m personally proud of.  If you know me – then you’ll realise what a big statement that is!

If you have any questions comments please stick them in the comments section below, OR ping me .

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what gets tracked gets done!

I use a training dairy to record all the training sessions I complete….

the strength sessions

the sports massages

the conditioning sessions

the runs

and all the other stuff (training related)

WHY?

When I track my training, I know what I’ve achieve in each sessions, each week, each month, each block of training.

I am able to progress every session, and plan when to push and when to ease off the throttle.

This allows me to keep my training progression without wiping myself out physically or mentally…

running CF is a full on job, and with fun things like GDPR to sort out and the pleasures of other things, I don’t want to totally smoke myself every session.

BALANCE, ENJOYMENT and PROGRESS are what I look for….

There was a time when I was fed up of fitness….

the pressure I put myself under was huge, and i lost what it was about this professions that i loved.

My training diary is a tool that I find really helps me to monitor my training session by session and block by block.

Im a able to reflect on past sessions and see progress, and ive talked about the importance of looking back and seeing what you have achieved…how far you have come.

So 2018….using my diary I know I have:

  • dropped just under 10kg (22lbs)
  • increase my back squat by 30kg
  • increase my yoke carry by 40kg
  • increased my axil bar C&P by 45kg

and

  • i can now run 10k pain free

so progress towards my longer term goals is being made.

these key principles of balance, enjoyment and progress are core pillars in my training and I in-still them in all my clients training too.

No one will train long term if they hate it, and whilst there are smaller/shorter term goals to hit along the way, fitness, health and perfromance (relative to you) show be part of your life, just just for when you have a holiday in 2 weeks time.

Longer term investment will always pay off dividends to the short term gimmicks, and at raining diary is a excellent tool to use.

So much so that we have these 12 week diaries for our clients…. 😀

If you are looking to achieve results, enjoy the process, and make your long term health a priority then maybe the CF 30-day trial is a great starting point for you…..


Click here to start YOUR journey to results

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Friend OR Enemy???

FRIEND OR ENEMY….

scales & body weight

I saw a post the other day and it discussed scales and how the individual had thrown them away so that they couldn’t become obsessed with them anymore – that negative relationship that can develop when everything is about weight, and is common in todays society. A Number of people then chipped in about it – saying how good it was etc.

I think its THE most common thing that Ive heard over the past 20years of working in this industry – and not just from females, but both genders.

BUT

Are the scales as bad as they are made out???

are they to blame?

OR is it a classic lack of understanding, peoples individual issues or other factors??

Many of the lower entry point weight management programs use scales as their means of feedback….

Its cheap, easy to repeat, and doesn’t take a lot of skill by the person. Plus it’s been beaten into our heads that how you look and feel are directly linked to what you weight.

And this is where the problem lies……

Weighing yourself is NOT a bad thing…..

Your weight is a reflection of your lifestyle decisions/choices…..

It can hold you accountable – its not a person thing – your weight is your weight…

yes the excuses can come out to WHY you weigh what you weight, but the fact remains thats what it is.

I use to be someone who stated ‘it doesn’t matter what you weigh, its all about body composition’…..

WHAT A DICK I was then!

the reality is Weight can be a positive or negative means of feedback

IT all depends on YOU, YOUR GOAL, and YOUR CURRENT STATE…..

so EXAMPLE time…..

Roll back to the beginning of this year…..Jan 2018

I know that I was tipping in at about 110+kg on the scales…..

whilst what I weighed has never really bothered me – this year my misses and I had set a goal.

Part of that goal was to run the spartan beast OCR (half marathon-ish distance Obstacle Course Race)

and whilst Ive never been someone bothered with aesthetics

carrying that much weight around on a OCR is hard work ….

the distance,

the obstacles themselves

SO I decided to sort my shit out and train for the events…

and I’ve used 3 things to monitor my progress….

  1. my weight
  2. relative strength levels in the gym
  3. running performance (distance/speed)

If we just focus on weight for today –

I use it as its a quick and simple means of feedback

I can repeat it with as much consistency as i can

as and when I up my training I may start to calorie count, and using my weight I can calculate total calories and macro ratios more accurately.

PLUS it helps me stay focused – its hold be accountable.  ITs no ones fault but my own if the scales don’t move…or go in teh wrong direction!

Its simple – regardless of my weight i’ve got to get around this OCR, and the lighter I am (to a certain extent) the easier it will be…and ive tried running at 110kg…its not fun!

So weighing myself IS an excellent and appropriate means of feedback…..

And the other benefit to being lighter – i’m stronger, leaner and my CV fitness is increasing too!!!

I fit into my clothes – which is handy

i don’t feel as much of a oaf – cant say i loved be a porker

shit load more energy and focus

and I’m loving the numbers going up on the lifts

SO whilst the scales have been DEMONISED and ABUSED by mass weight loss programs and society, the FACT is that there IS a place for weighing yourself, tracking progress, being held accountable with factual data and taking emotion out of the equation.

The key with all thing is the means of TRACKING progress has to be relevant to the outcome GOAL.

If you want to be ripped, then weight may NOT be the best means of tracking performance, BUT it then could also be a excellent means of tracking  The specifics are individual to each person, and relying solely on one means of feedback may not benefit the individual.

 

If you want some help working out what it is you want and how to get there…..

Hit the TRAIL button…..top RH corner

 

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Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is an explosive lower body exercise. It involves a hip hinge similar to the deadlift. The kettlebell swing builds a strong lower back, glutes and hamstrings and develops your grip. When performed for high reps it is a killer conditioning exercise that will leave your breathless. If done for lower reps, it is a fantastic movement to build explosive power.  It’s also has an awesome corrective/posture benefit through extending and loosening up the hips as well as strengthening the lower back and gluts.


Exercise Steps

1.  Assume a shoulder width stance with a kettlebell several feet in front of your body.s

2.  Drive your butt back while keeping your shins close to vertical and reaching forward for the kettlebell with your arms.

3.  Pull the kettlebell back towards your pelvis whilst keep your chest up and spine long.

4.  Stand up explosively and exhale. Think of driving through with hips, squeezing your bum and driving through your heels. Don’t worry about the height of the KB to start with.

5.  Hike the kettlebell back towards your pelvis and allow gravity to help you ‘swing’ the kettlebell back between the legs.

6. Stand up again explosively/drive hips through for as many repetitions as desired.

**TOP TIP**

To begin with, focus on building your technique and then consistency.  Look to more sets with lower reps to start, and then build you volume/load.

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SIMPLICITY IS THE KEY

In today’s post I hope to show that often, simplicity is the key to achievement.

I had a great discussion with one of my fellow CF coaching crew yesterday and the upshot of it was that as humans we always seem to be looking for the ‘NEXT’ thing that will get you the best result yesterday….

Its ironic, as when having a discussion with one of my other coaches last week it covered this same topic.  In this conversation we referred to Dan John and some of his classic works.  For those who have not read some of Dan’s work you have missed out!

We discussed Dan’s Mass Made Simple – its a brilliant name for this program. Quite frankly some of the sessions in this program are brutal (if you do them correctly). Assuming you do follow them as planned out and follow the program guess what – you build mass!!!  The topic them went onto how because it may appear simple that the program is second guessed. Questions like ‘is it that simple?’ and ‘there must be a quicker/better way?’ appear.

With the availability of information via good old google its not difficult to find millions of articles/programs/this and that which all ‘guarantee’ X result.

The key points that we agreed on were that simple DOESN’T necessarily mean EASY, and to follow a plan THROUGH is far better than to continually chopping and changing with a end result of no change.  Science and an element of common sense will stand the test of time with what works….WHY? because it has worked.  the good old Barbell, Kettlebells, Strongman stuff Kit – its been around for a bloody long time and why? – used correctly they have repeatedly delivered results for more years than I have had hot dinners!

I reflected some of the simplicity in my own training this past week where I used 3 bits of kit –

  • Ski erg
  • Dog Sled
  • Prowler

In 45 mins I was a a sweaty mess struggling to walk correctly.

For the majority of people who are looking at getting fitter, losing a bit of weight and/or getting a bit stronger, keeping things simple and building repetition in are the foundations to getting where you want to be.  Even at an elite level the basics are still applied, but with a greater level of fine tuning.

Its ironic really, as if people stuck to the training plan from day one, followed the process from start to finish, they would achieve far greater results and not waste time ‘looking’ for the next MAGIC PILL whist achieving nothing.

I can hand on my heart say in the past I have been guilty of this…..and with reflection and a greater level of knowledge and experience I can look back and see this.  Im currently not in a position to train lots, so I set myself a target of 3 sessions minimum and I keep it simple.  Each week I will squat, push stuff, carry stuff, pull stuff, press stuff and pick stuff up.   I mix it up to keep me focused and I like the variety.  There is no end goal for me ATM, simple to get a good sweat on, move my body through large ROMS’s under a load.

End result – I don’t get back pain, I feel energetic and motivated and I have a reasonable base level of fitness.

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Why I don’t do Online Training

Why i don’t do online training….

Over the past number of years and in tandem with the development of technology, ONLINE training has developed.  Online training has become a perceived ‘easy’ way to earn lots of money.

I personally got into this game for one driving reason…. coaching …  its my passion.  Interacting and creating relationships with people on the gym floor is what I enjoy most!!!  I’ve tried online training and I despised it.  Using computers more than I have to is just not me.  I love to be on my feet moving about and engaging with people – its why Custom Fitness Health & Performance Training Facility exists.  The gym floor is where I love to be! I love working with clients, training performance athletes and coaching classes.  The interaction you get in all these sessions is ace. Reacting to whats happening in front of you simply cannot be replicated or replaced via computers.  A fundamental reason why this industry although is continually evolving will never die out.

It’s often the case that the lesson learnt when trying something different is to clarify and cement what your ‘why’ is and the ‘how’ it happens.

Is online training systematic of something more?

I 100% accept technology is here to stay (as i sit working on my mac with my I-phone near by…). It doesn’t mean that I like using it.  If I had the choice to go back to the ‘old-days’ I think I would happily stick to pen and paper.  The only draw back is the all the disclaimers, programs, and other documentation that takes up a lot of space.

The electronic age has enabled many problems to be solved.  With time efficient devices to help get tasks done in a fraction of the time. Its also created as many problems as it solves.  In one aspect you have saved time and money….which ideally then frees you up to do more cool stuff…. the stuff I love to do, but then equally if not more, it creates problems and bigger costs in other areas. Software thats is about as user friendly as a chocolate fire pot has in the past made me want to throw my laptop out the window!!!

Generically, the internet has enabled a monumental amount of information to be available.  Which in its own way is ace, but have evolved a newish role of the coach to clarify the facts from all the BS online…and certainly for this industry there is a huge amount of it flying around.

Sitting down in front of a computer sucks.  When I have sat for prolonged periods of time (in this job and previous ones), I tend to start to get neck ache and lower back pain.  In the morning I would shuffle around for a bit before I loosen up.  Its down to having my head in a project that has engulfed me, and accept that even doing the love I absolutely love, there are always crappy bits. The key is that as I know my ‘why’ its less crappy that could be.  This (the aches and pains) is especially true if for some reason (like surgery and opening a new gym) means my training has gone kaput!  Safe to say now I am coaching more (ace), on the gym floor more (ace again) and training  again (ace x3) all the niggles and aches have all buggered off!

So as much as you’ll find me sat at my desk getting the essential work done to keep the business running…it will be to support the stuff I love to do – coaching face to face on the gym floor – that will ALWAYS take priority for me.

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Body Shapes

CF Coach Shane, has put pen to paper for this read regarding body shapes.

Read it and think, which one are you? Or are you a mixture?

Starting your fitness journey can be stressful with various questions that will arise before you even consider starting your journey…

– How should I train?

– Where do I train?

– What do I eat?

– When is good to eat?

Although being a trainer myself I will be biased towards seeking professional help before you start, it’s usually a good idea that you do. I wouldn’t attempt to plumb a dishwasher in because I have no idea what I’m doing and it would 100% end in disaster, so I have two options… Seek professional help and get it done correctly OR continue to let the misses wash the dishes and leave food on the plates from the night before! J

Without complicating the situation with all the above questions, lets strip it back to the basics.

You NEED to understand what your body can and can’t do, you’ve had long enough living inside it to know where you gain weight, where you lose weight, injury restriction etc. Usually speaking, when you know everything you need to know about yourself that’s when you can answer the original questions about getting your training started.

Without boring you with scientific formulas and confusing you with every little detail (which can aid your fitness journey when you hit that inevitable plateau), let’s take a look at YOUR body shape!

morph

ECTOMORPH

Usually very slim and tall, both sexes can resemble the ‘skinny fat’ look and have weaker muscle tone. Typically speaking your metabolism runs faster than most and your what’s called a ‘hardgainer’ and because of this, when training you may wonder why training regularly for 1 month hasn’t resulted in a body worthy of a podium finish or magazine front cover!

For you ectomorph’s its all about getting that diet and training right, if muscle gain or toning is what you’re looking to achieve, try cutting back on the endurance cardio and look to weight training as your new ‘go-to’ (Strong Circuits or Modified Strongman classes are advisable for you at Custom Fitness). Calorie intake is a big one for you, you must give your body the building blocks to generate muscle growth and by doing

This you must take in calories by the plenty. A tip of mine would be to eat before bed; this will prevent muscle catabolism during your sleep.

ENDOMORPH

Usually smaller in height and very broad you Endomorph’s are naturally quite strong but without the correcting nutritional guide and training plan you can potentially carry a lot more body fat. This is usually due to a slower working metabolism. Unlike the ectomorph, muscle gain comes to you a lot easier unfortunately so does fat, so getting that athletic look isn’t always easy.

If weight loss is your goal, you will most likely have to ramp up your cardio in a bid to strip the body fat required to achieve your ‘beach bod’ typically your calorie intake will be relatively high so making sure your working at a deficit (expel more than you eat) over time, SHOULD get you to where you want to be. When it comes to classes you might want to go for HIIT and bootcamp slightly more than you may already want too, however DO NOT cut out the weight training, a well rounded training plan is the way forward for an endomorph.

A tip of mine would be to focus on low-glycemic carb foods, those that have less of an effect on your blood sugar levels so your level remains steady.

MESOMORPH

Visually you will adopt an athletic build. Your body type will sit in between that of the ectomorph & endomorph. Given your athletic build you will also find it easier to maintain if training and eating correctly. Like any body type, without guidance or a training program you mesomorph’s can gain a lot easier than the ectomorph’s so if you’re not watching what you eat this is likely to result in higher body fat % readings. On the flip side, with the correct training program muscle gain is typically achieved easier than an ectomorph and body fat stripping is usually achieved easier than the endomorph. When it comes to training a combination of cardio and weight training should keep you maintaining, obviously if you want to gain or strip you will need to make changes to both cardio and weight training accordingly.

Tip for you mesomorphs would be to balance your macronutrients in your nutritional plan 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fats would be a good place to start. Keep those sugary foods in check!

SUMMARY

Like all body shapes, it’s in your genes! Don’t sulk about it; use it to your advantage… knowledge is power, if you’re aware of your body shape and how best to achieve your goals before you’ve even finished tying your gym trainers then your onto a winner. Take control of your own body and make the most of the precious spare time we have to focus on our own health these days by choosing what’s right for YOU.

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Is your exercise regime making you fatter?

Is your exercise regime making you fatter?

It seems logical at this time of year that people are more critical of their body shape than any other. With “summer” and holidays kicking in, people want to look good in less clothes.

Yet there can be a lot of frustration that, having decided you want your body to look different, and despite a huge amount of effort, your body is just not towing the line.

Maybe you’ve been working out hard for a good few months but are frustrated with the lack of visible change in your physique.

Is your exercise/activity regime actually making you fatter?

Well no, not exactly.

We know that exercise is critical for long term weight maintenance (Pavlou 1989) – so those that exercise whilst focussing on nutritional intake tend to keep weight off, compared to those who just diet.

Exercise supports your health in a number of ways including reducing visceral fat, increasing energy usage in the hours after exercise (to a certain extent) & preserving muscle mass.

There are also the benefits that you just can’t see – fellow coach David Poole has put out some awesome posts on this recently on Custom Fitness UK’s Facebook page, spelling out the psychological benefits of regular exercise on the CF Facebook page.

So why aren’t you getting visible results?

I’ll look at 4 areas with you:

  1. Your training intensity
  2. Unrealistic expectations
  3. The majority of your day
  4. Overcompensation
  1. Training intensity

Put simply this is the amount of effort that you put into your chosen activity. Just turning up to do an activity does not tick this box!

Let’s look at an example:

“the same person doing a moderate weight lifting circuit will burn 78 calories in 20 minutes of moderate effort, or 138 calories in 20 minutes of vigorous weight lifting[1]”.

If we multiply this up to an hour’s worth of activity, your energy expenditure can vary by 180kcal (or more!) by virtue of the effort you put in[2].

This relates to the second in a series of 3 videos I’ve posted on my Facebook page recently about what you need to achieve results. In this video I talk about the need to “Do the work”.

Be realistic about a sustainable level for you to exercise at and realise that what is a challenge for you may not be for someone else, and vice versa.

  1. Unrealistic expectations

Accepting what it is realistic for you to do in the short and medium term has a direct bearing on your long-term results.

If the results you “want to achieve” require you to work out 6 times a week and really nail your nutrition BUT you can only manage 2-3 times a week and stop for a take-away on the way home and enjoy several glasses of vino along the way….it’s just not going to happen!

That series of videos I mentioned on my page above…the first one was on the need for patience. Think about where you are now – how long has it taken to develop and evolve? Transformations do not happen overnight….at least not long-lasting, non-photoshopped, still healthy and feeling great transformations.

  1. The majority of your day

This is a subject I’ve written about previously but just as a quick review – if you work out an hour a day, 6 days a week this accounts for only 5% of your waking week. How much you move during that 95% of the week is hugely relevant!

We refer to the energy use in non-exercise activity as NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis). It’s interesting to note that NEAT can be 352kcal/day less in obese than lean people[3].

Walking contributes to the majority of daily NEAT – every day walking – stairs, walks moving around the house, garden etc. Even fidgeting can affect your energy expenditure (usage) through the day!

NEAT Energy expenditure

Activity Energy expenditure [kcal/hr avg]
Resting 77
Sitting motionless 80
Sitting fidgeting 118
Standing motionless 88
Standing while fidgeting 148
Walking @ 1mph 197
Walking @ 2mph 235
Walking @ 3mph 304

So doing your chosen exercise does not give you a ticket to ride for the rest of the day. Similarly though, if you train so hard that you don’t wish to move for the rest of the day, you have to question whether you are optimising your activity levels overall.

Pedometers and accelerometers (e.g. Fitbit & other similar devices) help increase physical activity in a large number of studies. Accelerometers also increase physical activity and can be a way to ensure you’re not compensating for planned exercising by reducing NEAT.

That’s right – if you reduce your movement through the rest of your day because your body is compensating for the energy you’ve used in training, it will affect your body composition and results.

Making sure you move a little in every hour is a great way to avoid this pitfall. Set an alarm (use your phone or computer), get up, move around, go up and down the stairs – put the radio on and have a bit of a dance around!

Here’s an illustration of how doing that can help:

Time period Walking time per hour and effect on energy expenditure
1 min/hour 2 min/hour 5 min/hour
1 hour 3 kcal 7.4 kcal 16.5 kcal
8 hours 24 kcal 59.2 kcal 132 kcal
1 week 120 kcal 296 kcal 660 kcal
1 month 480 kcal 1,184 kcal 2,640 kcal

It’s accumulated activity over 24 hours that counts, not just time in the gym.

  1. Overcompensation

I mentioned above that doing physical activity does not give you a ticket to ride for the rest of the day. Similarly, your activity does not necessarily ‘entitle’ you to eat more, earn you a cake/chocolate/gingerbread-cinnamon-carrot-cake-latte with extra cream etc…

If the amount you are eating over the whole day & week does not fit with your overall goals, you will not see results.

Points (1) and (3) are once again relevant here because if you are (a) not working out as intensely as you think you are and/or (b) are not moving enough for the rest of the day, then you may well be compromising your results, especially if you subconsciously eat to compensate for the activity you have done.

This can be a real surprise!

How much you need to eat obviously depends on what your goals are but also on what your total energy usage is over the whole day (see points above). Plus, your journey so far can have a huge bearing on the base amount of calories your body actually needs.

What can you do?

This may all make sense but you may still be thinking “what does that mean for me?” or “what should I do about it?” – why not get in touch for a chat and we can listen to where you are, where you’d like to get to and discuss exactly how we can support you.

Lisa is a Female Health Coach offering health, fitness & wellbeing coaching at Custom Fitness, LN3 4PH.  Further information on her services can be found at www.optimum-health.me.uk and www.facebook.com/MyOptiMumHealth

[1] www.livestrong.com

[2] Please bear in mind that any numbers like these depend on various factors including your weight and activity and so should only ever be treated as estimates.

[3] Weightology by James Krieger