The title is a bit of a misnomer, “catchy” some might say. In between all the fads what do we know that works? The following details the order of approach that I consider probably the most important.
Firstly, diet (or prehaps nutition is the correct phrasing as all diets at the moment seem to be evil…. that is unless you are a caveman for which paleo dieting seem to be okay). Now what works from a nutrition perspective? General calorie restriction is an inefficent way of working and also a bit hit and miss. It makes a difference what calories you are cutting.
Protein should generally stay at a consistent level, the way the body regulates protein suggests that this is good practice, pre- activity and post activity protein is generally recommended as it helps promote and maintain muscle mass. I have been asked should you cycle protein types- I think that getting a variation of plant and animal proteins is good for you from a nutrition perspective, consuming the same things all the time can leave you short of vital nutrients if you are limiting the variability of your diet. Milk based proteins may not necesarily be the best source- most protein based sports supplements are derived from dairy products. I would suggest that if you are supplemeting with whey or caesin protein 1 shake a day would be enough if you can source your protein from other varied sources such as chicken, turkey, lean beef, fish as well as non-animal sources such as quinoa, beans and lentils (limited amounts) and brown rice. You do not need to rely heavily on supplementation though it is sensible for active individuals to take in a suitable amount of protein (about 1.6g/kg of bodyweight which equates to roughly 136g for an 85kg individual.
Fat intake can be varied, calorifically it is the highest value of the macronutritents explaining why a lot of diet plans cut fat as it does not necessarily reduce food intake by a great volume. Fats play a major role in metabolism regulation and the development and maintainance of the body. Reductions can take place in fats but what matters as well is the quality- saturated fats are not completely evil. What matters is that fat intake is varied from good sources and is varied. While a little bit trendy to say things like fish oils (which are rich in Omega 3) and natural occuring fats such as coconut oil (which are high in Medium Chain Tryglycerides reported to have metabolic enhancing effects) should be the fats of choice calorific load is still important. Indeed again variation is key and as long as you are not overconsuming calories in total then weight loss can be acheived. Fat and carbohydrate are our two main providers of energy and therefore overconsumption on either can cause weight gain (this is not rocket sceince and you probably know that- so stop eating pizza, curries and anything with the word pie related to it if you want to lose body fat). Ranges exist between 20% to 35% of your daily intake depending upon your total carbohydrate consumption. For health reasons I prefer the total amount to be around the 30% mark and get most new clients to target this amount. For your average male that would give a value of between 55g and 97g.
Carbohydrate intake is where you should see the most variation in consumption. In general this needs to be matched to activity. Simply, train more and you can eat more- specifically post workout. Fitter individuals have a better tolerance to carbohydrates and as they will use them to recover form exercise it makes sense to include them post activity. Anywhere between 4 and 10g/kg of bodyweight for carbohydrates would be necessary (10g/kg would obviously be an endurance athlete performing multiple training sessions daily). Lower carbohydrate diets can be used and have been publicised by the media. However often these plans blunt activity and from a nutritional standpoint do not leave you at a good standpoint for sensible eating after your dieting phase. Generally these plans are more suitable for lean people looking to be leaner though it’s not a particularly healthy process (not to mention the bad breath and mood swings) so i’ll generally limit the application of these programmes to those I think are sensible to understand it as a short term change.
There is a lot more info out there of specific types of supplements which can aid various processes, however, 95% of people looking to take care of their weight loss results need to focus on doing the basics- if you are ticking all the boxes above then worry about the 5% which may include the next thermogenic fat burning technology but until that point consistancy of nutrition delivers results. I have mentioned about quality and specific amounts on previous posts about carbohydrates, protein and fats.
Training is also a devisive point. I tend to order things in to a hierarchy, this means that there are certain things that you can do to help fat loss, each one you add in accelerates the effects and the quality of the results you want to acheive. Activity is first on the list- most people move daily but this is a completely underestimated factor in losing weight loss. We tend to set a baseline of around 3 to 5 hours a week of activity. Do most people get this? If your gut hangs over your trousers I doubt it. Seriously though, if you are sat all day can you really be expecting for your body to be smashing through vasts amount of calories. Calorific depravation and starving yourself works for a bit but after a while you will become a smaller, pasty, weak individual with no want or ability to move… it’s the trap most dieters fall in to. In to activity I include any disordered form of training including walking, jogging and most exercise classes as they all are really undirectional from a stand point of what are they trying to acheive apart from shearing calories. The second point is training- this is different to activity in my mind (this was featured as an article in Men’s Health). Training is structured and organised towards a goal, it is personalised specifically to what you want to acheive. It is not subjective if results are directly measurable.
What training fits best for weight loss? This is case dependant as a general rule a bit of everything in my mind is the order of the day. Lifts weights to develop strength and to maintain and develop muscle mass, higher intensity cardiovascular exercise to burn more calories and lift you aerobic and anaerobic capabilities and steady state cardio for recovery- though in my mind this may also be classified as general activity.
Pounding away on a treadmill is an inefficent way- it just takes a long time and can result over time in decreases in muscle mass…. something that most people do not need a reduction in.
As you see there is not really anything new or special- the basics still apply. For most people cleaning up their nutritional practices and including a lot more vegetables as the base to most of their meals is where they will see better results. Focussed training is time efficent- go to your local gym and see the guys doing one set of exercise as they sit on the bench and recover for the next 8 minutes or watch the young lady reading her book or watching the latest soap in a reclining bike. This is not exercise it’s unfocussed activity.
How many training centres can you walk in to and see each of the members looking like they are training, looking like they actually want to lean up/ get fitter/ build some muscle, most chain gyms don’t cater for people who want to train- they are activty centers for adults, not focussed to set people up for people to acheive their goals.