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Stop Measuring Your Health By What The Scales Say

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 28 May 2021
Hits: 2060

We all know that losing weight is the most popular goal held by most people and we are constantly striving to shed the kilos and slim down in the belief it will make us happy and feel better about ourselves. Studies show that the average person will ty to lose weight 15 times throughout their life. Unfortunately, the very act of trying to lose weight for most people is a very unhappy experience and can even cause severe health problems. We believe that to be healthy we must strive to make our body suffer by starving our body of food and punishing it with exercise. Most of the plans for losing weight are still based upon the calorie deficit model which sounds simple in theory, but is ignorant to many health principles that we must abide by. We are constantly bombarded with advertising claiming to help people lose weight in a short amount of time. This unrealistic expectation along with the endless Instagram fitspiration images has many convinced this is what they have to do. Deep down we know these claims are false and that finding long lasting results takes considerable time and effort. Yet so many people take this route anyway hoping it all works out for them, which it rarely does. In this article, we are going to provide you with the right knowledge and tools to help you on your journey to improving your health and ultimately losing weight the right way. And most importantly, learning how to keep it off!

Losing Weight Does Not Guarantee Good Health

We all want to have a nice flat stomach for besides the obvious benefit of looking good we know there is many great health benefits associated with less belly fat. For example, excessive visceral fat is linked with many diseases due to its location being so close to many vital organs, such as the pancreas, liver, and intestines. The higher the amount of visceral fat a person stores, the more at risk they are for certain health complications, such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

However, simply losing weight does not automatically mean you become healthy. Many people can easily lose weight by adopting very unhealthy and even dangerous eating and exercise methods, so this is not a good way to measure your health. We must aspire to become healthy first and with time allow our body to reduce fat and overall body weight.

For many years I have not paid much attention to regularly weighing people on the scales, or doing skin fold measurements like so many other trainers and dieticians. I have seen many people become obsessed with what the scales would say and use extreme measures to make the number lower, even if it was at the at the expense of their health. We are all aware of the danger of anorexia nervosa and how destructive it can become to a person’s health. Many people with anorexia see themselves as overweight although they are, in fact, underweight.

I am not going to go into too much detail about this disease as this is a big topic on its own but I want to make the point that this is an example of where our perception of what healthy is not about our weight.

It is fair to say that in this modern age of social media with an endless supply of images that easily lead us to compare our physique to others has seen this problem evolve to greater proportions.  In the book “Give Yourself More” by Georgie Fear and Aleisha Fetters they state.

“Research shows that women’s Instagram use is strongly linked with a tendency of self-objectification. The more frequently they view images on Instagram the more apt they are to internalize appearance-related ideals and base their worth on how they compare to others.”

An interesting study found that more than 25% of women trying to lose weight at any one time are already at a healthy weight or underweight! (Reference: Martin, C.B Herrick, K. A, Sarafazi, N, & Ogden, C. L (2018). Attempts to lose weight among adults in the United States, 2013-2016. NCHS data brief No 313. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention)

When women hit their weight loss goals they often want to lose more feeling as if the work is never done. The may have hit the goal too fast and not learned the rules of how to stay there and this is common to the person who takes up 12 week transformation challenges or extreme dieting methods like Jenny Craig or a shake diet. They are able to lose the weight fast but they can never sustain it as it is a miserable experience. Once they let go of the reigns it all comes apart very quickly.

This is not limited to women either as many men also experience unrealistic body images forcing them to try and gain muscle size and flat abs at any cost. The temptation to use steroids and extreme measures to lose abdominal fat puts their health at serious risk. Even when they understand the dangers they still see it as worth taking in order to look good. We must move beyond this association with our body-weight measurement being the only way to accurately determine our health.

The bathroom scales IS NOT an accurate measurement of health for I have worked with many skinny people who were extremely unhealthy.

 

Instead of focusing on what the scales say or, what your skin-fold measurements are, I prefer to measure my client’s progress by how well they execute the PROCESS to lose weight. What exactly do I mean by the process?

This is where I will look at things like

  • Their exercise log
  • The quality of their workouts
  • Measure strength and fitness via specific tests
  • How much sleep they get each night
  • The quality of food they eat
  • How often they eat
  • How they cope with or react to stress

All of these things are processes required to obtain great health, and consequently lose weight and improve fitness. If each one of these factors improves to a level better than it was before then they will achieve their ultimate goal of losing weight. It is impossible to change all of these things without the body making some positive changes. I do not want them to adopt an unrealistic or strict exercise and eating regime that compromises their sleep and stresses them out. For even if they do manage to lose weight they will certainly acquire a health problem later on.

Other great ways to measure weight loss progress are shown below.

To quote James Clear from the book Atomic Habits - "Instead of focusing on the outcome of what you want to achieve, focus on the person you want to become". This is a powerful way to approach health and fitness if you have never had success at sticking to anything in the past.

Lastly, I must emphasize there is no magical cure or one size fits all approach to losing weight that works for everyone. You need to identify the areas that are causing your body to gain weight or compromise your health and change them. We are all so different and our struggles will vary greatly from one person to the next so you must spend the time to find out what is the specific area your body is finding difficult? This is arguably the biggest mistake people make when it comes to losing weight and failure to address the underlying cause will lead to poor results and more significant health problems in the future.

WHY Do You Want To Lose Weight?

The very first thing you need to do before you even contemplate changing your diet or exercise regime is to be clear on WHY you want to lose weight. It seems like a crazy question but it is extremely important to find out the reason for you starting your new health lifestyle. If you are trying to make changes for the wrong reasons you will not get very far.

Most people will tell me they want to lose weight because they want to look better in the mirror. Some are only doing this because a Doctor or family member told them to. Others believe that losing weight will make them happier in life. All of these are not great motivators to change for they lack an emotional attachment or in the case of happiness an unrealistic objective.

This is where your MOTIVATION will come from. We all deep down know why, but rarely do we spend the time to put our emotions and feelings about why we want to change onto paper and read it aloud. You need to know why you want to achieve your goals in order to stick to your plan.

It is no big surprise to hear that many people do not stick to their new year’s resolutions. Research conducted by the University of Scranton shows that while 77 percent of people who committed to a New Year’s resolution stuck to it for at least a week, it shows that only 8 percent of people who actually achieve those goals in a timely fashion—if ever.

This is not due to a lack of will-power, it is mainly due to three things.

  • Basing their plan on poor knowledge that is never going to work. See our article on why people struggle to lose belly fat for a great example of this.
  • Poor planning, or no plan at all and applying a random approach.
  • And lastly an unrealistic understanding of how long it is going to take.

When people stick to a new regime that is a big shock to their way of life and they see little to no results they think why bother. They have seen the magnificent pictures on social media of body transformations or heard about a miracle story of someone changing getting on top of things really quickly and thinks expect it to be the same for them.

It is at this point when times get tough you need to draw on your WHY. If this the only thing you remember from reading this article then I have done my job as this one thing will change your life forever.

Okay, now we have got that out of the way let’s take a look at some of the most common weight loss questions on your mind.

Your Weight Loss Questions Answered

This is a quick summary of what we are going to cover.

  • Do I have to eliminate all carbs?
  • Do I need to do cardio every day?
  • Do I need to count calories and weigh my food?
  • How long does it take to lose weight?
  • Should I use intermittent fasting?
  • Should I hold my belly in all the time to strengthen my core and flatten my stomach?
  • I lost weight at first but now everything has stopped. What am I doing wrong?

1. Do I Have To Eliminate Carbs To Lose Weight?

The first thing that is often brought up about food when anyone asks what they need to do to get in shape, is: Do I need to cut back on the carbs? We have all heard this hundreds of times and in recent years with the evolution of the Ketogenic eating and Paleo style food plans this has become very popular. We now assume that carbohydrates are the enemy and basically fattening foods. Is this really true?

 

Unfortunately, the answer I am going to give you is not that simple for I will say it is both no and yes!

Over the many years of being in the health industry I am becoming more and more open to many ideas and different methods and appreciate the fact that we may sound contradictory at times. I always wanted to have a template or simple way that would work for everyone, whether it was for exercise or nutrition and teach people how to do it themselves. I found that every time I went down that path I would encounter big problems.

For every person I would be able to help there would be someone that would be worse from using that identical approach. On a biochemical level each of us is as unique as we are in our fingerprints meaning the way we respond to exercise and nutrition will be different. It is up to each of us to find what works best for you by experimenting and finding the right balance in your training and eating habits. Once you find the right mix it is easier to stay on track and maintain optimal health.

How Much Carbohydrate Should We Eat?

This is impossible to give a clear cut recommendation as carbohydrate demand is going to vary from person to person and is going to depend on physical activity level, but here is some general guidelines.

The liver stores about 90 grams of carbohydrate, skeletal musclestores300 grams, and bodily fluids contain 30 grams. A completely sedentary person will primarily be tapping into the liver’s glycogen stores in order to stabilize blood sugar between meals. In the absence of physical activity, then, it makes sense to use about 100 grams per day as an initial target.

Someone whose physical activity is no more intense than walking is unlikely to begin tapping into their muscular glycogen supply. Greater intensities, however, such as running or weight lifting, will do so. It is almost impossible for someone to more than guess how much muscular glycogen they would burn through with any particular physical activity pattern, but it is reasonable to say that a very active person could add another 300 grams of carbohydrate on top of the initial 100 grams.

In fact, the primary metabolic consequence of consuming 500 grams of carbohydrate in an otherwise healthy person, regardless of physical activity, is to shift that person’s metabolism almost entirely toward burning carbohydrate for energy. These numbers should not provide more than an initial guideline.

If someone wishes to restrict carbohydrates to less than 100 grams per day a careful approach to safety would be to monitor stress, thyroid, and sex hormones, to ensure they all remain in optimal range. Physically active people should be aware that they may need considerably more than 100 grams to prevent these hormones from going out of range.

Some may do very well with low carbs but for most of us, keeping carbs too low for too long can have disastrous consequences. This is especially true for people like me who love to work out. People who are sedentary and cannot work out as they are very limited with their movement it makes sense that their carb intake needs to be lower. They will do great with more restriction as it will be easy for them to put excessive weight on as they do not burn enough energy throughout the day.

However, for those people like myself who like to run and cycle 2-3 times per week and lift weights 3 times per week, restricting the carb intake too drastically can have a negative effect on the body’s performance and potentially lead to problems like:

  • Decreased thyroid output
  • Increased cortisol output
  • Decreased testosterone
  • Impaired mood and cognitive function
  • Muscle catabolism
  • Suppressed immune function
  • Digestive issues

In other words: my metabolism might slow, my stress hormones go up and my muscle-building hormones go down. This is when I begin to feel crap, tired all the time, sluggish, cranky, and don't sleep too well, which ultimately affects my digestion. And when this happens my health takes a downward spiral.

One thing many people fail to consider about carbs in particular grains is the role they can play in digestion. Some people grains can cause havoc as with coeliac, but with others the lack of it can be the real problem. The fibre in whole grains can support healthy digestion in various ways.

Firstly, fibre helps give bulk to stools and lowers your risk of constipation. Second, some types of fibre in grains act as prebiotics. This means they help feed your beneficial gut bacteria, which are important for digestive health. This can be a big problem with people on high protein plans like Paleo eating. The lack of fibre can become a huge health problem ongoing and lead to serious complications that can lead to arthritic problems, skin conditions, and extreme tiredness.

In order to function properly and to maintain an appropriate metabolism, our body produces an important hormone called T3. T3 is the most active thyroid hormone and is incredibly important for blood glucose management and proper metabolic function. Low T3 levels can lead to a condition called euthyroid sick syndrome, in which people are constantly cold and sluggish.

A landmark study, known as the Vermont Study, found that T3 is very sensitive to calorie and carbohydrate intake. When calories and carbs are too low, your T3 levels will drop. If you’re active like me, you will need adequate energy and carb intakes for a healthy thyroid and avoid this problem.

You can read more about this here – How to overcome hormone imbalance

Research consistently shows that people who exercise regularly need to eat enough carbs or their testosterone levels will fall while their cortisol levels rise.

This is a sure-fire recipe for losing muscle and gaining fat!

Incidentally, it’s also a marker for excessive training stress. In 2010, researchers completed a study to see how this works in relation to intense exercise. In this particular study, subjects eating the low carb diet (where 30% of their calories came from carbs) saw a drop of 43% in their testosterone to cortisol ratio. Not good. Meanwhile, the control group (who got 60% of their calories from carbs) saw no change in their testosterone/ cortisol ratios.

They concluded that: -inadequate carbohydrate intake can decrease testosterone (which no one wants); and –increase cortisol (which no one wants); while -negatively affecting performance (which no one wants).

What does all this mean for you?

Well to conclude this question it means you need to monitor how much carbohydrate your body needs depending on how much intense exercise you do. Always aim to get your carbohydrates from vegetables and whole grains and avoid processed foods and the sugar laden carbs like donuts, cakes, cookies, and pastries. You do not need to be rocket scientist to know that these foods will not help you lose weight even if you take up running, cycling and strength training.

If you are more sedentary the Keto diet that encourages little carbs and high fat might work really well for you. We will cover this in more detail shortly with the intermittent fasting question.

Eat foods that have the highest nutritional value and find a balance between carbs, proteins and fats that is just right for you.

2. Do I Need To Do Cardio Every Day?

Most people believe that the key to losing fat and getting in shape is to spend lots of time doing long slow cardio sessions. If you don’t get a sweat then it is not a good workout!

There are several problems with this type of thinking.

Firstly the chance of suffering an injury with this approach is very high for the body is not ready for this type of demand and you also need to be certain you move well enough to handle this type of stress. When people look to get in shape they believe that moving well will just happen. All they have to do is get out there and get it done and the body will fix itself. Unfortunately it won’t. And movement problems will only get worse when compounded by frequency and volume of training. You can never sacrifice exercise technique to burn calories.

Secondly this type of exercise may burn calories at the time but it is not the calories that is important. It is more about balancing hormones, especially for the person who has been overweight all their life. The person who has had weight problems all their life there will be considerable amounts of inflammation in their body that need to be balanced and restored to their "normal" level. By ignoring these signals and just trying to sweat yourself into shape is doomed. These, long, slow and boring cardio sessions will actually train your body to store fat. When you spend 30, 40 or even 50 minutes grinding out cardio sessions, you send your body a powerful signal to start storing fat instead of burning it. Why? Your Hormones are out of balance.

According to a study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, People who performed intense cardio suffered from decreased T3 hormone production. (Eur J Appl Physiol. 2003 Jan; 88(4-5):480-4.) T3 is the hormone produced by your thyroid to burn fat.

When you do cardio, your body reacts to the stress by suppressing this fat burning hormone. This means your body starts gaining fat straight away for the body needs the fat in order to function. And on top of all this this excessive cardio also puts massive amounts of stress on your body by increasing the stress hormone cortisol. Excess cortisol is associated with illnesses like adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, depression and even more deadly diseases like heart disease, cancer and visceral belly fat.

Last but not least, you now need to eat more food, putting yourself at risk of giving in to sugar cravings and eating food to refuel what you lost. During long, slow and boring cardio – your appetite also increases in order to replace the energy it has lost and restore blood sugar levels back to normal as they have been dramatically reduced. The quickest way to restore blood sugar back to normal is to eat..... SUGAR.

And eating sugar is the quickest way to make you fat, and develop a disease.

What should you do?

Well you can still use cardio but it should be used to complement your strength training program.

Strength training is a much better choice as it stimulates the growth hormones and increases muscle mass. The muscles of people who regularly lift weights absorb blood sugar in response to insulin much more effectively helping the pancreas to secrete lower amounts of this hormone. There is so much more to muscle than looking good in a mirror.

Here is a just a short list of the various benefits of using a strength training program to add muscle.

  1. Muscle is the biggest influence on your metabolic rate. The more you have the faster your metabolism and the easier it is to lose weight
  2. Muscle regulates hormones and prevents disease like cancer which is often caused from insulin resistance
  3. Muscle improves bone density and prevents bone fractures, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, and can even reverse osteoarthritis.
  4. Muscle prevents injury and improves stability across all joints
  5. Muscle improves sporting performance by increasing speed and power.

None of these things are improved from a cardio training program. They will improve slightly but not to the level they need to be for dramatic improvement and overall health. If you want to improve your fitness and get the sweaty, puffed out feeling from weights, complete your workout as a circuit. This is an excellent way to get the cardio effect using weights. Just make sure you move well before trying this. Watch the You Tube video below of a brutal workout for combat sports that would get you in great shape.

Does This Mean You Should Never Use Cardio?

Absolutely not. Walking should be a big part of every person’s training and if you are able to jog or cycle this is a great activity to complement your strength workouts. I would highly recommended you include some cardio training as it is great for getting outdoors and getting some Vitamin D. You will get a lot out of exercising when it is fun to you and this is important.

If you are looking to improve your overall fitness I would try to focus more on INTERVAL TRAINING if possible for it is much more effective than slow steady workouts. Interval training is a key part of any elite athlete and is by far the fastest way to get fit. This is when you break your exercise session into short segments that alternate high intensity with a rest period in-between.

Several studies have confirmed that exercising in shorter bursts with rest periods in between burns more fat than exercising continuously for an entire session. This has been shown to hold true even when the session is not done at an extremely high intensity. For example, in one such study, those who cycled for 40 minutes, alternating four-minute bursts at 90 % effort with two minutes of rest, improved their cardiovascular fitness by 13 %, and were able to burn 36 % more fat during a later hour-long moderate cycling session. Another study went one step further proving you can burn more fat exercising for 20 minutes than for 40 minutes!

The answer to this question will vary from person to person so it is up to you to determine what is right for you. The infographic below gives you some simple rules to abide by.

Read the articles in the link below to see more on this.

3. Do I Need To Count Calories & Weigh My Food?

The simple answer is no you do not need to count calories. Let me explain why.

It is one of the biggest weight loss myths ever created and the source of frustration for so many people trying to lose weight, and unfortunately many so called weight loss experts, personal trainers and health practitioners still teach this ridiculous method. Which only adds to the confusion. What people must understand is that Calories are not created equal, the source of the calories is what is important.

Calories from fructose are of particular concern. Identical calorie counts from fructose or glucose, fructose and protein, or fructose and fat, will cause entirely different metabolic effects on a person's body. The reason for the difference in metabolic effects is largely because different nutrients provoke different hormonal responses, and those hormonal responses determine how much fat your body will accumulate and hold on to. This is why the idea that you can lose weight by counting calories simply doesn't work.



After fructose, refined sugars and grains are among the most excessively consumed foods that also promote weight gain and chronic disease. The long held belief that obesity is the end result of eating too much and exercising too little is simply not true. In some cases it is definitely a big part of it, but it is not the only thing.

Research by the likes of Dr. Richard Johnson clearly demonstrates that this is an exaggerated lie. Dr. Johnson places most of the blame on excessive fructose consumption, and his book "The Fat Switch" shatters the myth that obesity is the result of eating too many calories and not exercising enough. Many things influence how much energy is coming in vs going out.

What is frequently overlooked is your body's ability to burn fat as its primary fuel.

Due to insulin and leptin resistance, most people have impaired enzymes to burn fat! In order to actually gain a significant amount of weight, Dr. Johnson's research shows that you have to do two things:

  1. Block your sensation of fullness, and
  2. Impair your body's ability to burn fat by down regulating the enzymes responsible for metabolizing fat.

What this means is that in order for you to become severely overweight you must first become leptin resistant. Leptin is a hormone that helps you regulate your appetite. When your leptin levels rise, it signals your body that you're full, so you'll stop eating. Sugar (in particular fructose) is exceptionally effective at causing leptin resistance, and it's also very effective at blocking the burning of fat.

Now if you still don't believe that calorie counting is not the way to go then maybe
you will believe Weight Watchers! David Kirchoff, president of Weight Watchers, the world's largest diet company, recently said on their website:

"Calorie counting has become unhelpful. When we have a 100-calorie apple in one hand and a 100-calorie pack of cookies in the other, and we view them as being 'the same' because the calories are the same, it says everything that needs to be said about the limitations of just using calories in guiding food choices."

Kirchoff and Weight Watchers have eliminated the company's popular "Points" system, which encouraged dieters to lose weight by eating any foods as long as they kept the portions small. The new system tries to encourage dieters to consume more natural, less processed food.

And even when calorie restriction and counting does work in terms of losing weight, it is still not a good way to achieve optimal health. We must move beyond looking at weight loss as instantly being healthy.

"Someone can be a healthy weight range but extremely unhealthy as their body is deprived of essential vitamins and nutrients needed for optimal function of vital organs and bodily functions."

We need our food to provide these essential vitamins and nutrients. We must look at our food as more than just fuel or energy to do exercise as it is so much more than that. 

There is several problems with calorie counting that you must consider.

  1. You can’t really trust that the calorie (and macronutrient) numbers you see on food packages are accurate. The way they are calculated is surprisingly imprecise and inconsistent.
  2. Plus, even if food package numbers were precise, once the food is cooked, or chopped, or blended, the amount of energy available for digestion and absorption changes.
  3. Then there’s what happens once that food enters your body.
  4. Calorie burn estimates with trackers like Fitbit are also very imprecise.
  5. Your stress levels, your history of weight gain and dieting can all dramatically influence your body's calorie expenditure.

As you can see it is not as simple as knowing how many calories you’re taking in with food or burning up with exercise as this can fluctuate significantly due to several unique factors.

I love the info-graphics that the guys at Precision Nutrition create that give great visual descriptions of how this works. I highly suggest you read their material in the links below

Below is a snippet from one of their info-graphics that I love to share with a lot of clients as many will relate to this very scenario.

The old saying you are what you eat is vital, and learning to eat slowly will help you to avoid over-eating. I would go as far to say that HOW we eat our food is one of the most overlooked parts of losing weight or improving health and fitness. We place a huge focus on the type of foods and when to eat, but pay little attention to how important the process of chewing our food is to providing the numerous benefits to our health.

When you eat slowly, you digestion improves and your body can easily extract the essential vitamins and minerals from the food to allow it to function at its optimal capacity. You feel more satisfied with each meal allowing for better energy throughout the day and this also prevents over-eating helping you to maintain a healthy weight.

An interesting study completed by the University of Rhode Island examined how eating speed affected the early stages of digestive processing by observing 60 young adults eat a meal. The found that

  • Slow eaters consumed 2 ounces of food per minute.
  • Medium-speed eaters consumed 2.5 ounces of food per minute.
  • Fast eaters consumed 3.1 ounces per minute. They also took larger bites and chewed less before swallowing.

This means that not only are fast eaters putting more food down in a given amount of time, that food isn’t as well-processed. If your meal makes you burp a lot or leaves you feeling bloated and sluggish, take a good look at how quickly you are eating. Just like me you might be blaming the quality of the food you ate, when really you just needed to slow down and give your body time digest your food properly. 

To summarize this question a healthy diet combined with exercise will give your body every chance to find a healthy weight range without starving your body of necessary vitamins and minerals. There is no need to count calories if you have the right food combination and eat slowly.

To read more about these topics read the articles below.

4. How Long Does It Take To Lose Weight?

When I first meet a new client who is interested in taking on personal training to get in shape one of the first questions they ask me is, “how long will it take to achieve my goal?” The answer to this is impossible for me to provide for there are many factors to consider. Yet, I often explain they will see some changes early on in the first 2-3 months but they are not even close to finishing the job and to reach their ultimate goal they are more likely looking at 12 months plus.

To reach their true potential and be on the maintenance program where it is easy to stay in shape you will need 1-2 years of consistent training and eating well. The reason you will need this long as there are so many things you will need to address and each one will need considerable time to accept this new change and keep it.

The longer you have you been out of shape the longer it will take to get back in shape.

Again this is another reason why so many people fail extreme restriction diets and each year take up the 12 week challenge at the local gym. I am all for getting people started with fitness but we should change the way challenges are marketed letting people know that this is just the starting point. Most people are unable to stick with the demanding exercise schedule and restrictive eating for a long time and they have never been taught the lessons of what it really takes to become healthy and stay there.

The key is to start small, start with one thing at a time, and make the change easy. You want to make changing as easy as possible and thinking of how to sustain it forever. At no point do you want to be thinking I only need to do this for a short time and go back to my old ways.

If you make too many drastic changes, it feels really hard and really different, and you know it is not something you can stick to for very long. But when you make a change easier, it makes it easier to take that all-important first step. Once you take that first step, you have a bit of forward momentum. And it's much easier to be consistent and stick with something for a long time. Our minds tend to adjust over time.

To read more about this check out the article – How long does it take to get in great shape?

Should I Use Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting is currently one of the world's most popular trends in the health and fitness industry, and it can provide some astounding results. This is proof that there is just as much importance with “when you eat” as “what you eat”. There is a great info-graphic I created with simple visual images to explain how this works that you can check out by clicking here.

If you are using this with the intention of improving your overall health and vitality by simplifying your nutrition and lifestyle you will see great results. However, if you see this eating method as a quick way lose weight you will be bitterly disappointed and over the long term create more problems.

People advertising this claim that it’s an easy, convenient and sustainable way to lose weight and improve overall health. It’s generally considered less restrictive and more flexible than many other diet plans and while it sounds easy there is some big mistakes made with this that can cause severe problems. By far the biggest misconception is you can eat whatever you want in your 8 hour window. Not only is this false it actually increases your chance of gaining weight from fasting as your body looks to store fat instead of burn fat.

If you consume high amounts of carbohydrates, sugars, and junk foods during the eating period your body will continue to use carbohydrates as the primary fuel source instead of fats. Even though they are fasting their body will not respond positively to this and instead become fatter and unhealthy for it is not using fat stores for energy. These people often have intense cravings for sugary or salty foods when they get towards the end of the fasting as the body wants to stabilise the blood sugar crash.

It is critical to avoid eating sugary foods and anything with high carbohydrates to make the fuel source switch also known as Ketosis. This whole method depends on the quality of foods with HIGH FAT content (good fats) for it to have any chance of working for you. This is why the Ketogenic diet works so well in combination with fasting.

Foods to Eat MORE during Fasting

  • Green vegetables and cauliflower
  • Raw nuts
  • Cheese
  • Flesh protein eg meat, chicken, seafood
  • Avocado
  • Pate
  • Coconut or Avocado oil
  • Eggs
  • Butter

Foods to AVOID When Fasting

  • Fast food
  • Bread
  • Below ground vegetables
  • Pasta
  • Rice

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

  1. Your body becomes a Fat Burner, especially if you are also following the Keto eating plan as well.
  2. Reduces the risk of chronic disease, for example, diabetes, heart disease.
  3. Long term weight loss, providing you continue with the fasting and eat well during the eating window.
  4. A lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
  5. Improved brain health.

I am a big fan of using the Keto Diet in combination with Intermittent Fasting for those people of poor health. Obviously these people cannot exercise intensely so they will not need the carbohydrates for their fuel as we discussed earlier. If you can convert their body to becoming a fat burner they will make significant changes to their body not just in terms of fat loss but the preventing insulin and leptin resistance that causes a host of serious health problems.

You can read more about this in the articles provided in the links below

Should I Strengthen my Core to Flatten my Stomach?

Anyone with even the slightest knowledge in strength training will know it is impossible to tighten up your abs with specific exercises like crunches and planks. This also known as spot reducing. Yet this information seems to be ignored by the masses who still are prepared to pay money for these ridiculous ab machines in the belief it will make their abs look better. If you want to see your abs it will come down to eating better and moving more often than any crazy exercise you can do on these contraptions.

And for the person who thinks machines like the Ab King that is advertised on TV will strengthen their abdominals to prevent or heal back pain will be sorely disappointed. Not only do these machines rarely improve your overall abdominal function anyway, they actually speed up the rate of dysfunction! We must realise that strength of the abdominal muscles WILL NOT change the faulty movement that leads to injury and pain. Your body will instantly sacrifice any strength if it only knows how to move with the same dysfunctional movement it has always used. You must identify and change the faulty movement patterns linked to the injury to have any chance.

If you are thinking of buying one of these to get washboard abs save your money and learn to move better if you want a strong core. What about core exercises on the floor? Surely these are good right? And if I hold my abs in all day it will keep my belly flat?

None of these statements work or provide any value to your body at all.

This is a big problem I see a lot with back pain sufferers, and people who are self-conscious with their belly looking flat. When people adopt a trunk gripping strategy they are over-activating the external obliques that will create a posterior tilt of the pelvis. While this may give them the flat abs they were looking for, it will now cause a series of muscle imbalance chain reactions that will eventually lead to pain.

In particular is the danger in creating a DISC BULGE as the lumbar spine is forced into flexion as they constantly tuck their pelvis under. In addition to this you will begin to see flaring of the rib cage (see picture above) that will now result in a change of breathing. Over-activity of the outer unit muscles leads to weakening of the inner unit, and over time you will see stiffness and rigidity creep into the thoracic spine. Now you are likely to develop neck pain!

The strategy of holding your abs in thinking it will make your core stronger is something to avoid!

I have heard this instruction many times before in running circles, and this is complete craziness. Not only is this going to drastically affect performance as you need the diaphragm to inflate to generate more air it will quickly cause you to create a new breathing method that will make your pelvis much weaker expose your body to joint problems at the lumbar spine and hip.

You can read more about this in the article – Why hip and ab gripping ruins your body

The most important thing I can tell you here is this.

 

Another myth many people have with weight loss is they think their pain will go away if they are skinny. Many doctors tell people they need to lose weight to get rid of their back pain. Weight loss may help to reduce the severity of the symptoms but it is not the cause of the pain. For if it was you would never see people of healthy weight with back pain. If you move poorly your joints will pay a big price no matter how heavy you are.

You can read more about this in the articles below

I lost weight at first but now everything has stopped. What am I doing wrong?

This is a very common problem to people of all ages and abilities and is a classic example of where the body has become efficient. I have seen hundreds of people get to the stage where they are working out all the time but nothing seems to change. When they first started an exercise program the results were almost immediate as only a few relatively simple exercises was enough to force the body to adapt and make significant changes.

Whenever you train, you force your body to respond to the stimulus by adapting. This could involve improving nervous system efficiency, strengthening tendons, ligaments, and muscles, increasing muscle size/cross sectional area, or a combination of all these factors. The body wants to find a way to become better at the activity you are doing so it uses less energy. It wants to become efficient. Your job is to find a way to become inefficient and the fastest way to do this is by doing exercises you are not good at!

 

The same problem exists with nutrition.

People get used to eating the same foods all the time and rarely mix things up allowing the body to get used to the routine and becoming efficient. Basically it sees no need to change anything. The reason you saw results in the beginning is because your body was not used to your exercise or eating habits so it had to make changes. It wanted to become efficient as it is less stressful to the body. If you fail to keep making small adjustments to your training and your diet you will eventually stop changing no matter how much you do because your body has become so well trained and efficient. 

The old Einstein definition of insanity is so true here- "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." There is nothing new the body needs to do, so it stays the same!

To avoid this trap and break through a training plateau there is 3 key things to consider.

  1. Identify your weaknesses & be inefficient - Spend more time doing what you are the worst at, and train this area the most! Whatever you least efficient at forces change quickly.
  2. Turn bad habits into good habits - Often when you are stuck in a rut, you are also stuck in a routine and have picked up many bad habits. Changing these habits is critical.
  3. Improve your Nutrition, Rest & Recovery strategies - More training does not mean better results. Only better quality training and better rest can achieve this.

Variety is the spice of life and a great way to continually force the body to change and adapt. Plus it is great fun to change your workout and your nutrition.

You can see more about this in the article – Breaking through fitness plateaus is all about being inefficient

Do You Need More Help?

To help you put together everything we have discussed in this article there are some great programs you can instantly download below that will help you put all of this information together. The heart health PDF report that provides with everything you need to know about exercise and nutrition. This is one of the most comprehensive reports I have ever put together and due to the health problems we have witnessed in 2020-2021 this is undoubtedly a must read for anyone who feels vulnerable with their health right now. Given the heart's never-ending workload, it can easily be brought down by a poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and illness caused by neglect to other parts of our body. This report explains everything you need to know about improving not just your heart health but your overall health.

    

Summary

I hope I have answered all of your questions relating to losing weight and have shown you that it is more important to focus on becoming healthy, instead of just looking at the number on the scales. We must look at improving all the factors that contribute to weight loss and measure these. If the process improves the end result will take care of itself. The journey to losing weight is never easy so you must be consistent with your efforts and remain patient. If you try to cut corners you will only end up in a bad place later on. It is worth spending the time to learn not just how to lose weight but how to keep it off.

For more ideas and information on specific topics I may not have covered in detail be sure to check out our INDEX PAGE on the website that has over 200 of our best articles. These are all sorted into categories for quick reference so you can find what you are after more easily. And if you want to stay up to date with all our latest tips and methods you can subscribe to our FREE fortnightly newsletter by CLICKING HERE.

If you do need specific help with setting up an exercise and nutrition program please feel free to reach out to me for help by clicking the image below and we can set you up a free consultation to discuss how to get you started.

About The Author

Nick Jack is owner of No Regrets Personal Training and has over 16 years’ experience as a qualified Personal Trainer, Level 2 Rehabilitation trainer, CHEK practitioner, and Level 2 Sports conditioning Coach. Based in Melbourne Australia he specializes in providing solutions to injury and health problems for people of all ages using the latest methods of assessing movement and corrective exercise. You can also subscribe to our FREE fortnightly newsletter by clicking here.

References:

  • Movement - By Gray Cook
  • Corrective Exercise Solutions - by Evan Osar
  • Athletes Acceleration Speed Training & Game Like Speed - by Lee Taft
  • Diagnosis & Treatment Of Movement Impairment Syndromes - By Shirley Sahrman
  • Low Back Disorders - by Stuart McGill
  • Knee Injuries In Athletes - by Sports Injury Bulletin
  • The ACL Solution - by Robert G Marx
  • Understanding & Preventing Non-Contact ACL Injuries - American Orthopaedic Society For Sports Medicine
  • Anatomy Trains - by Thomas Meyers
  • Motor Learning and Performance - By Richard A Schmidt and Timothy D Lee
  • Assessment & Treatment Of Muscle Imbalance - By Vladimir Janda
  • Scientific Core Conditioning Correspondence Course - By Paul Chek
  • Advanced Program Design - By Paul Chek
  • Twist Conditioning Sports Strength - By Peter Twist
  • Twist Conditioning Sports Movement - By Peter Twist
  • Twist Conditioning Sports Balance - By Peter Twist
  • Heart foundation
  • CSIRO
  • Precision Nutrition 
  • Nutrition & Physical Degeneration - By Weston A Price
  • Big Fat Lies - By David Gillespie
  • How To Eat, Move & Be Healthy by Paul Chek