Huh? Bear with me as I explain.
In one of our previous blogs (toning and shaping: framing the problem), we explained why the goal should be to lose fat not weight. To achieve the type of physical transformation that brings body fat down from 30% to 18%, the secret is to NOT to diet.
The word diet has the connotation of sacrifice, pain, discomfort, and it is also, due to our beliefs over the years and the way that we have portrayed it, is something that is done temporarily. “Detox” diets are a similar concept – the implication is that we have somehow built up toxins in our body and are going to remove them over the course of a week or so – and presumably then go back to “normal” and put them all back in?
It doesn’t make sense. If there is such a mechanism at work, then perhaps not putting toxins into the body in the first place might be a good idea?
As a result, I never use the word diet. We’re going to substitute the “diet” for “nutrition plan”, because it implies a general plan for life, not just a short-term project aimed at major sacrifice.
When you think of nutrition plan, lemon detox probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind is it?
3 Major Problems With Dieting
The problems with the typical “diet” are, besides the short-term nature:
- Calories are often too low – This can result in the loss of muscle as well as fat, and we now know the problem with that.
- The low calories cause a lowering of the BMR – you’re stuck on a permanent low-calorie diet as your body has adapted to living on the lower calories.
- Rebound effect – the previous two points lead us to the rebound effect, due to the lowering of the BMR and being on a restrictive plan that is short term only.
So, what does a “nutritional plan” look like?
Simple Nutrition Plan Guidelines
Balance is key, we’re told. But what does it really mean? It doesn’t mean equal portions of burgers, fries, milk-shakes, pizzas, and fried chicken.
A good nutrition plan should consist of as many natural foods as possible – and obviously as few processed foods as possible.
Refined Carbohydrate vs. Natural Carbohydrate
For example, modern wheat is primarily a “concentrate” of the wheat endosperm, which is the starchy (sugar) part of the wheat. 100g of a processed wheat product will give you about 70g of refined carbohydrate.
Compare that with a natural food, even at the high end of the carbohydrate scale – the good old potato. 100g of potato have about 17g of carbohydrate. Even an apple, which is sweet, has just 14g of carbohydrate per 100g. So without having to do much analysis, you can see how highly concentrated modern carbohydrates are – 7 times that of food from nature,.
Add to this the fact that since the carbohydrates in wheat come from the endosperm (starch), they convert to sugar very quickly in the blood, and since they cannot be used at this fast rate, they are then converted and stored as fat on your body. Exposure to a pre-diabetic condition is a real concern for people consuming refined carbohydrates. The quick conversion to sugar in our system creates a strain on the insulin system and the sugar itself in the blood, as well as the insulin system being driven hard as a result, lead to a host of health problems.
This paints a clearer picture as to why many people struggle to lose weight in today’s society.
Get to Know Your Body
Do you know of any allergies that you may have? What about how your body reacts to lactose or gluten?
Nutrition plans aren’t a one-size-fits-all approach to health – they are unique to the person. There are many things, aside from food, that affect the plan. This includes activity level, physical condition and current calorie intake – all are used to get a better idea of calorie requirements.
Let’s have a look at 3 key principles.
- If you have a sedentary lifestyle, the lowest calorie intake if you were trying to lose weight, would be around 25 calories per lean kg of body-weight. NOTE, I stipulated LEAN body-weight.Since any fat you have will not burn calories, do NOT include it in the calculation. For example, if you weigh about 70kg and have about 30% body-fat as in the earlier example, your lean body-weight is 49kg (let’s call it 50) – so 25 calories/kg will be 1,250 calories.
- If you do some physical training (and everybody should!) or you have a physically active lifestyle, then your lowest calories to lose weight will most likely be around 30 to 35 Calories per lean kg of body-weight
- If you are very active, you may need to stay on 40 Calories per kg of lean body-weight to lose weight at a sensible rate. Olympic athletes and professional sports people are in another category again and are not addressed in this article as their requirements are more complex.
Structuring Calories: How To Do It Best
We’ll use the 50kg lean body weight as an example: (i.e. as per the previous example, it could be a 70kg woman with 30% body-fat)
- The daily minimum intake of protein is 1g per kg of body-weight. If you are active, you will possibly need 2g/kg or more. If we split the difference and suggest 1.5g/kg, this means 75g. This in turn will give you 300 calories of your 1,250 targets – 300 is about 25% of 1,250.
- Carbohydrates;- if you are eating good wholesome natural foods, will most likely be around 60 to 120g per day. It is difficult to eat more if you’re eating natural foods (e.g. leafy green vegetables). A diet of 1,250 calories is at the low end of calories – so let’s target carbohydrates at around 80g per day (80g equates to 320 calories).
- Finally, we come to fats. They will of course be the remainder. 1,250 – (300+320) = 630. Calories of 630 from fat means an intake of 70g of fat.
Next time we’ll be talking about how to best consume your macronutrients!
AMP Your Workout Smart Tips. Don’t forget that:
- “Diets” generally do not work in your favour in the long run – they can lose valuable muscle and lower your metabolic rate so your body will aim to store fat at every opportunity (to “save” you from the famine that it thinks has occurred).
- Ideally, adopt a sensible nutrition plan that will keep you lean and fit.
- A sensible nutrition plan will have sufficient calories as well as good ratios of the macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) – as well as fibre and water.