Fibre is an important component of our diets and in the right quantities has many benefits. But is fibre an important component of a weight loss programme and what is this floating stool?
Back in the 70’s there was a diet that became very popular for a short period of time called the F-plan diet. The theory behind the diet was that if you had high amounts of fibre in your diet you would move fat out of the body bound to the fibre. Now there is an element of truth to that because if you are going to have large amounts of fibre in your diet it will indeed remain largely undigested in the small intestine. Having reached the large intestine only so much can be fermented and broken down here so you end with more waste. This is the floating stool part, if you have large amounts of fibre you will end up with large well-formed stools that are difficult to flush. If your stools sink straight to the bottom of the pan then perhaps you have insufficient fibre in your diet.
So what is sufficient when it comes to fibre, a healthy diet, and weight loss? The first thing to say it is not as recommended in the old or revised version of the F-plan diet. People went through a phase with this where they were eating All-Bran and then sprinkling fibre onto that. Not only is this excessive but it is not the best way to get fibre in your diet. The government guidelines are that you should consume between 12g to 24g a day. This is definitely a case of more is not better. The reason that there is an upper limit is that too much fibre in the diet tends to mop up a number of nutrients, in particular iron and calcium. Therefore if you have too much fibre in your diet you can become deficient in these minerals particularly.
Fibre and weight loss
Fibre has many health benefits and can have a role in weight loss to. Good amounts of fibre in the diet may be protective against conditions such as diverticulitis, large bowel cancer, haemorrhoids and constipation. Regular intakes of the correct amount of fibre may also help control total cholesterol. In terms of weight loss the big benefit of fibre is that it is bulky and not easily broken down. This means it moves slowly through your system and you feel fuller for longer. The best way to get fibre in your diet is from fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and pulses. The nearer to raw these are the better; if you highly process these then you will reduce the fibre content. This is one of the problems with juicing; when you liquidise fruit or vegetables you breakdown all the connective tissue within the food and also release a lot of natural sugars.
So the take home message is – get sufficient fibre in your diet from natural sources such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and pulses. Don’t over process them and if you stools are floating then your gastrointestinal tract must be a happy bunny. If you would like more information like this about nutrition and weight loss then simply complete the form below to receive seven FREE videos on these topics.
Can you lose weight and carry on drinking alcohol? Well the simple answer is ‘YES’ but as you might imagine life is never that straightforward. In the final analysis alcohol contains kcal’s and if you are getting these in the form of alcohol then you have to reduce the amount you are consuming via food. The question then becomes can you make that trade and stick with it? The following is taken from the governments livewell website:
Calories in Alcohol
Drink Calories (kcal) Food equivalent
A standard glass (175ml) of 12% wine 126 1 Cadbury Heroes miniature bar
A pint of 5% strength beer 170 1 packet of McCoys salted crisps
A glass (50ml) of (17%) cream liqueur 118 1 Milky Way bar
A standard bottle (330ml) of 5% alcopop 237 3 Lees teacakes
The problem with this example is the food swaps offered aren’t exactly healthy. What is relevant is the kcal’s that are involved. To achieve an approximate weight loss of one pound per week you need a deficit of kcal’s in the region of 500. So if you are having a couple of glasses of wine (and the measures here are small compared to what people typically drink at home) you have already used up 250kcal. For a female who perhaps needs to keep her total intake in the range of 1500kcal’s for weight loss this is a substantial proportion of her overall intake. You can also see two bottles of alcopops would consume your 500kcal deficit. Clearly consuming alcohol is going to cause you problems in terms of energy balance (kcal in Vs kcal out).
The next issue pertinent to this is the effect consuming alcohol will have on your appetite. In some cases your appetite is initially dulled by alcohol. The problem is that once you stop drinking it is liable to return in spades, and will be difficult to resist. In part because alcohol lowers your inhibitions so you might rationalise that it is OK to eat fish and chips this once.
Alcohol, weight loss and health
The other and most probably, most significant aspect is the effect that alcohol can have on your health. At a very basic level consuming alcohol will have a physiological effect on the surface of your gastrointestinal tract. Regular consumption will start to have an impact on your liver and other organs so the positives from a health perspective are minimal.
So the answer to the question ‘Can you lose weight and carry on drinking alcohol?’ is yes. But as with all things in life there is no free lunch here. If you want to leave the alcohol in then you have to take the equivalent amount of food out. Is that a practical tactic, I don’t really think it is. Is there any real benefit from leaving alcohol in the diet; from a weight loss perspective ‘NO’? So perhaps the question you should be asking is not “can you lose weight and carry on drinking alcohol” but “why do you want to carry on drinking alcohol in the first place”? Answering this question might open up a whole can of worms, but it is something you are going to have to address at some point; that is because within this can of worms could be your true underlying problem as far as weight gain is concerned.
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If there is one thing that I have found true about nutrition and weight loss over the years it is that what works for one person patently won’t work for someone else. I have worked with elite athletes that have a similar body composition, follow the same training regime and are competing in the same event. This is where the similarity ended because what worked for one did not work for the other, why that is the case is not clear. One possible reason is different genetics. The field of nutrigenomics is a field of nutrition that is growing rapidly. In the next few decades we are quite likely to see weight loss diets being designed specifically for an individual’s genetic make-up. We are not quite there yet despite what some trainers may claim.
So if weight loss and nutrition are so closely linked by our genetic make-up what chance have you got of finding the ideal diet for you? The answer is a very good chance if you are willing to be patient and methodical about how you approach your dietary intake. The first thing you need to consider is where is your baseline going to be. For some people establishing this is difficult because to some degree you need some solid and reliable data. As an important aspect of a successful weight loss programme is self-monitoring this is not too difficult to achieve. Keeping regular food diaries and analysing their content should start to build a picture of your typical intake. I would add a caveat at this point that these diaries need to be as accurate as possible. People will generally underestimate their intake so that can be an issue and the very tables that you use to analyse a diet have their own particular drawbacks. The other factor is that people will change their eating habits just because they are recording their intake. But let us assume that you have got some reliable data. The next thing is you need to assess is what was happening with your body composition over the same period of time. Again the more accurate this is the better. You can now start to make small changes and monitor the effect. This is effectively what I do with my clients on the LEAN Man System. Establish a baseline and then slowly make changes and see what the impact of the changes is.
Nutritional changes for weight loss
The changes I instigate are generally moving people towards more of a Mediterranean style diet; so slightly more mono-unsaturated fats, plenty of vegetables with some fruit and lean cuts of meat. The protein content is generally higher than current guidelines and this is because it is very satiating and metabolically beneficial in terms of burning calories. Again this isn’t cast in stone and I will make subtle adjustments along the way if I find certain changes are not having the desired impact.
There is no reason you cannot do this for yourself. The key is accurate record keeping and good dietary analysis. If you can couple that to some sound nutritional changes you may well be able to design the perfect diet for yourself. If you find it all a bit overwhelming a possible option would be to get a LEAN Report and at least find out where your baseline is. If you want some further nutritional tips then sign up for the seven FREE video series by completing the form below.
What is the best exercise for weight loss is an often asked question and everyone has an opinion on this. The first thing to say about this is that it is the wrong question. The question actually should be ‘what is the best exercise for fat loss’? Weight doesn’t tell you anything about body composition and depending on the type of exercise you engage in this can have a profound effect in terms of changing body composition.
You can make a good case for many forms of exercise because they will all burn calories and if at the end of the day you have created a calorie deficit then the end result will be a reduction in fat mass. It is perhaps misleading to look at the energy substrate being used during different types of exercise. A lower intensity form of exercise will tend to utilise more fat than a high intensity exercise. All exercise will use glucose, initially derived from glycogen stores in the muscles and then providing the intensity is not too high will utilise fat. Again, dependent on time spent exercising and intensity of the exercise your body will also breakdown protein and use this as an energy source. In the muscles this is achieved using the branched chain amino acids. So without getting into the biochemistry of exercise physiology your body will use all three of the macronutrients as an energy source dependent on the time you spend exercising, the type of exercise you are doing, your level of fitness and your typical dietary intake.
Exercise and weight loss
There is good evidence that high intensity interval training (HIIT) is very efficient at burning fat and most of this actual “fat burning” occurs post exercise as your metabolic rate remains elevated. The problem with this type of training is it is not recommended for someone who is overweight/obese and perhaps not in very good physical shape. You may next want to consider weight training. This is also quite effective as you will be building lean tissue (muscle). Again you are now not only burning calories whilst you train but you will slowly be increasing your metabolic rate as you build more muscle. Finally we come to aerobic exercise so cycling, swimming, walking, and aerobics classes etc. as examples (not a conclusive list). This will tend to burn a bigger proportion of fat whilst you exercise depending on the level of intensity and other factors listed earlier. However there is not as much post exercise advantage metabolically. So where does that leave us?
The question was “what is the best form of exercise for fat loss” and the answer to this question is “the exercise you enjoy doing most and will keep doing longest”. HIIT training may be very effective but if you do two or three sessions and think “I hate this” then long-term it hasn’t been effective. Swimming may not be as efficient but if you love swimming and really enjoy going everyday then long-term this is the most efficient exercise for you. Personal trainers often tie themselves in knots arguing over what exercise is going to be best for their clients to lose weight. An awareness of the research evidence is important but they should never lose sight of the fact that if it is fun and enjoyable you are more likely to keep doing it and long-term you will achieve your goals.
So the real question should be “what form of exercise do you really enjoy doing and think you can make a regular part of your lifestyle”? If you can get the answer to this correct you are on to a winner. The LEAN Man System explores this aspect with you to ensure we find something that works for you individually. If you would like further information on nutrition and weight loss just complete the form below to receive seven FREE videos on these topics.
When you think of losing weight and weight loss programmes what immediately springs to mind. The reason I wanted to know what sprang to mind instantly is this gives you a feel for how you view the whole concept of losing weight.
A big factor in predicting whether someone will be successful in losing weight is their psychological beliefs about weight loss. The sub-conscious mind is driving the show and if this is entrenched in the belief that it is difficult, involves a lot of sacrifice and generally doesn’t work then weight loss success is unlikely. There has been a lot of work using cognitive behaviour therapy for weight loss. In simple terms this looks at the thoughts and beliefs around weight loss and then tries to correct these. In some ways it’s looking at the little stories you tell yourself and then getting you to ask “is that really true”?
Weight Loss and your beliefs
One of your beliefs may be that you will have to give up all the things you really like. Now that may suit you to say this because that is excusing you from taking action. If you examine this statement using facts however it is not accurate. You can still have the foods you enjoy but you will most probably have to reduce either your portions, the frequency you have them or both. Even that might not be the whole story because you could always get more active. That means your calorific needs are greater and will perhaps give you more flexibility with the foods you can include in your diet. There are many facets of nutritional intake and weight loss that after greater scrutiny and application of reliable scientific data can be handled differently to the way a lot of people believe is the case.
It’s a similar story on the activity front. Your little voices (self-talk) may be telling you that if you want to lose weight then you will have to spend a lot more time in the gym. When you’re in the gym you’ll need to spend at least an hour having a near death experience for it to be of any benefit. Again this is not the case, a lot of the guys that participated in my research never went near a gym and they all managed to lose weight. They did get more active but some certainly did no ‘formal’ exercise. So there goes another excuse out the window.
If you are willing to spend a bit of time writing down all your pros and cons for weight loss you may discover what your excuses are. If you dare to be really brutally honest you can often turn cons into pros and in a lot of cases throw the cons out because there is no evidence to support them. I go through this type of exercise with my clients on the LEAN Man System. It is almost the equivalent of facing up to your demons as this is what a lot of your weight loss excuses really are.
Are you ready to beat your demons and face up to the truth that you can lose weight as long as you take charge of the little voices in your head? If you would like more information about nutrition and weight loss sign up below and receive seven free videos on nutrition and weight loss.
“I am really active so I don’t understand why I am putting on weight” - How often have you heard that? People often have a misconception that they are very active and when their activity is actually measured it comes as a bit of a surprise. This comes about for a number of reasons.
The leisure industry has done a good job of convincing people that doing an hour in the gym three or four times a week is sufficient activity for weight loss. First this is not true and second people will often think that this gives them free reign to eat what they like. Some researchers recommend that people try and achieve 10,000 steps per day. This equates to just over an hours solid walking. This level of activity is definitely beneficial but some research shows that for overweight and obese individuals 10,000 steps might not be enough. The required level to reduce body fat might be nearer to 15,000 to 20,000. That is quite a daunting figure and you are unlikely to achieve that with one burst of activity.
The other thing that has to be understood is that no amount of exercise/activity will produce a substantial and sustainable amount of weight loss unless you make adjustments to your nutrition intake. One problem with relying on just exercise for weight loss is that this may well increase your appetite and so the kcal you burn are compensated for by the kcal you consume because of your increased appetite.
The challenge of weight loss
From a trainers perspective this presents a challenge. If you get people to keep food and activity diaries they will tend to overestimate their levels of activity. Just to add to the problem they will underestimate their dietary intake; and it’s not just a small underestimation either. Research again shows people will underestimate their intake by as much as 50%. The only way we have to accurately assess intake and expenditure is by using doubly labelled water. This is water that is marked with a stable isotope and allows calculations to be made as to what is happening metabolically in the body. This is only suitable for research purposes and costs approximately £1000 per person. That presents a challenge because we know that self-monitoring is a key element of a successful weight management programme.
We therefore need to rely on self-reporting and using something like an accelerometer to measure activity. This will heighten awareness of levels of activity and also dietary intake. But if you are going to succeed in your weight loss quest you need to get active whenever you can and not rely on a few blocks of activity/exercise per week.
On the LEAN System I get my clients to monitor their dietary intake which I will subsequently analyse. I also encourage clients to use accelerometers or pedometers. My preference is FitBit, this neat little device measures activity and can be synchronised with your PC via Bluetooth. I can then see what level of activity is being achieved and advise clients as to how they can further increase their output.
So to summarise, get active as often as you can. Do not rely on gym sessions as your sole activity. Measure your levels of activity so you are not kidding yourself that you are active. Sort out your diet and monitor that closely as well. If you want further tips along these lines sign up for the FREE video series. Just complete the form below. Cheers Gary
Successful weight management is all about good time management. The biggest excuse I hear for not eating healthily or not being active is “I didn’t have time”. The way I look at is if you haven’t got time to look after your own health, exactly what have you got time for?
There is a well-worn saying “failing to plan is planning to fail” never is this truer than when applied to weight management. You need to honestly appraise your daily routine and that starts with work. Are you working to live or living to work, if it’s the latter of these two then is that what you had planned or has this crept up on you. For a lot of people they are passionate about work for any number of reasons but what you need to think about is would you be able to work if you didn’t have your health. So you need to start planning your weight management efforts so as they fit your chosen lifestyle.
Weight management through the day
You need to start the day with a low GI breakfast. If your morning routine is usually get-up at the last minute, grab a coffee and run out the door then this needs rethinking. You really have two options; you can either get up a bit earlier to allow time for breakfast or get something organised the night before that you can eat on your journey to work. The next stumbling block will be whilst at work. Do you find you get engrossed in work and before you know it you’ve missed lunch, perhaps because of an important meeting? This means you need to have a few fall back snacks so you always have something to hand in these situations. A lot of my clients now keep a cool bag in their car filled with various snacks. This ensures that they are never caught out by unforeseen circumstances. During the day do you rely on caffeine to keep you ticking over? The human body is predominately water so sufficient water intake during the day will ensure you are operating at an optimal level. From a weight management perspective being optimally hydrated is going to maximise your ability to burn fat.
Finally when you get home, perhaps late at night, do you find you are ravenous because you haven’t eaten properly all day? In a weight management scenario this is something I typically see, very little food through the day and then overeating in the evening. This is quite often where you see the take-away foods in the diet. It’s been a long day and you can’t be bothered to cook so the take-away looks like a good option. Two things will help resolve this situation. The first is eating regularly through the day so you are not so hungry in the evening. Second, and most important, is planning the evening meal. Batch cooking is the answer here. Whenever you or your partner prepares a meal cook twice as much as you need. It takes no longer and often reduces the overall cost of the meal. Freeze one of the meals and after a few weeks of doing this you will have a ready-made supply of handy meals to choose from.
The LEAN Man System is all about education and a big element of this is time management and planning. I work closely with my clients planning for all these types of situations. Your health should be your highest priority. You can rarely buy back good health if you damage it permanently and if you do lose your health then you will not be able to work and your general standard of living will suffer both financially and personally. If you would like further nutritional input and facts then simply sign up for the FREE videos by completing the form below. Best regards Gary
Why is it so difficult to get men to join a weight loss regime? This question regularly taxes the major slimming organisations, Weight Watchers and Slimming World have all had a really good try and have generally failed. So why is that the case, they have massive financial resources and a large network of slimming clubs?
I think my research has part of the answer. First off, men do not like large groups, especially when it comes to something personal like their weight and/or health. Also a lot of research has highlighted that men have to be a lot more overweight than a female before they will admit they have a problem. This is also generally true of a lot of health issues, men are reluctant to go to a doctor. Ironically a lot of the men I have successfully helped to lose weight using www.LEANManSystem.com have come to me because a doctor has advised them that a lot of their health issues are due to their excess weight; the best course of action being weight loss.
Even the language you use with men needs to be sensitive to their perceptions. I know your saying “you must be kidding” but it is documented that men perceive the word “DIET” very differently to women. Women generally see diet as a means of losing weight and achieving an end goal of either looking good, feeling better about themselves or perhaps being able to wear certain clothes. Men rarely quote any of these factors and on the whole view “DIET” as meaning having to give up the things they enjoy.
Weight loss science
Another difference is that the men in my research were generally keen to learn about the science behind the dietary advice. My perception starting out was that the biochemistry would be irrelevant in the context of the weekly sessions. This proved not to be the case and a lot of the guys really enjoyed fully understanding what was going on physiologically when they made different nutritional choices. I am sure this isn’t true of all women, but generally they will accept being told that if they eat ‘these foods’ and avoid ‘others’ then they will lose weight. It is hard to argue against this as very few diets contain an accurate biochemical and physiological explanation as to why they work. There are two very good reasons for this:
1. Most diets don’t work so it would be difficult to explain biochemically or physiologically.
2. The authors of a good majority of these diets have no scientific background relevant to nutrition so couldn’t explain it in the first place.
So next time you are tempted to start a weight management group for men you need to bear all these points in mind. Top of your list of hurdles will be trying to recruit them in the first place. When I first decided on the topic for my doctoral research I thought I had struck gold deciding to research weight loss for men. There was little research carried out specifically with men so my work was bound to contribute to knowledge and be ground-breaking. It was only later on when I started to try and recruit subjects that I realised why there was so little research –
Men are a nightmare to recruit when it comes to weight loss - You have been warned!!
If you want to prove me wrong then take a look at these FREE videos to learn more. Your weight loss journey might start here, so sign up and find out. Hopefully see you soon, Cheers Gary
Nutrition, education and weight loss how can they possibly be related? The simple fact is that one follows the other and if one of these elements is missing then the others suffer.
Good nutritional intake is vital to a successful weight management programme. You cannot achieve this without a sound evidence based understanding of nutrition, the educational element. The question then is how I achieve this level of understanding. First it is important to use peer reviewed scientific evidence as the foundation for your programme. By peer reviewed I mean other scientist have looked at the research and found it to be fundamentally sound. That is not the end of it though. A lot of research that is peer reviewed will not be relevant to you or your situation. There are a number of factors to look at:
1. Who was studied, in other words was the work undertaken using human subjects. Were they of the right gender and age group? Even their socioeconomic background may be a factor.
2. How many subjects were used? As a general rule of thumb the bigger the numbers the more likely this is a true effect.
3. Has the study been repeated? If it has then this reduces the chance that these results happened by coincidence.
4. Was the research sponsored by a food manufacturer who perhaps has a vested interest in a specific result? If this is the case then is this declared in the research itself?
This is a very basic and simplified way of looking at research but it will give you a good starting point. Obviously you won’t always have the time to do all this reading and to a great degree you will have to rely on other sources. If you use a registered nutritionist (RNutr) or dietitian you can be fairly confident that what you are being told will be evidence based. This is because both these professional groups have codes of ethics that they must abide by. Your next port of call may be a personal trainer and here you have to be careful and do some research yourself. Check the trainer’s qualifications and also query what they base their nutritional advice on. Ideally you want a trainer who is working in partnership with a registered nutritionist or dietitian.
Nutrition and the media
The final, and possibly most unreliable source of nutrition information is the media. New diets often are launched in celebrity magazines and very often contain a celebrity endorsement. They are generally not based on any reliable scientific evidence and if they quote studies they are very often quoted out of context to what the original research has studied or discovered. The celebrity endorsing the diet is very often very well paid for their endorsement. If they have managed to lose weight there is a fair chance it was achieved with a personal trainer, chef and hours in the gym.
So ensure your nutritional knowledge is coming from a reliable source and that any advice you are given is evidence based. Always ask to see the source or go and look it up and make an informed decision for yourself.
The LEAN Man System is evidence based and is designed to properly educate clients about nutrition and how to apply these principles in your life. If you want to get further nutrition information sign up for the FREE seven video series below.
It’s Halloween but why are some people’s diets so scary? I think it is partly due to poor education around nutrition and the media’s desperation to make diets “sexy”. Just the other day the Daily Mail reported a study from Italy that had looked at protein powders and their effect on longevity. This research was undertaken with animals and was small in scale; the results showed they lived longer. Somehow the Daily Mail got a headline form this that stated protein powders will make you live longer. Is it any wonder the public don’t know what to believe?
For years the food industry have pushed the low fat mantra, with horror stories about the impact of saturated fat and all things associated with it. There was some research that supported that message. The accuracy of the message was lost because the food industry had a hidden agenda, namely “let’s sell more low fat foods”. The public brought into this, and why would they not, given the vast amounts of publicity that accompanied this message. So now a large proportion of the population think that all fats are bad and should be avoided at all costs. This also ties in with people who push low fat diets as the answer to obesity. This seriously misses the point that the Mediterranean diet which most probably is as good as it gets, typically will be 40% fat. The point being that these are predominately monounsaturated and essential fats, all of which have positive health outcomes.
Meal Replacement Diets??
Over the past few years there has been a rise in meal replacement plans/products of various types. The popular ones at the moment being herbalife (or should this be herbalS++++), viSalus (or should that be sales are us) and Juice+ (plus what might be the question). As you can see I am not a fan and none of these are the answer to the obesity epidemic. These products are being pushed by unscrupulous individuals that have either bought into the powerful marketing that supports these products or they just view this as a revenue stream. Anyone with a sound scientific understanding of nutrition wouldn’t be involved with these marketing companies. Make no mistake they are not health companies and these are not health products. Again the public see the marketing and then have people such as personal trainers (who should know better) telling them that these products are the answer to their weight problems.
So here we are at Halloween 2013 with an obesity epidemic that definitely is a horror story. If you want something to scare the kids that knock on your door tonight just point out that there is a high percentage of them that won’t outlive their parents, that should do the trick.
If you want to receive seven free videos that look at different aspects of diet and nutrition then simply complete the box below and I hope you enjoy the viewing (no horror stories here, just a few home truths)!!