Abs are made in the kitchen. You just to need to move more. Weight loss is 90% nutrition. Consistency is key, don’t skip a workout. You can’t out-train a poor diet.
Maybe you’ve heard some of these sayings before. And maybe you know a few others.
We hear them all the time, don’t we?
And the truth is that in order to get lean, exercise and nutrition matter. But sometimes we’re making consistent, intense efforts and yet the pounds don’t melt off.
This is when we tend to hear a number of the other comments including:
I have a slow metabolism. I have a thyroid condition. It’s my genetics.
And for some, these may apply.
But before we throw our hands up and wave the white towel we should know that while exercise and nutrition are important for weight loss they aren’t the only players in this game.
Visit healthyw8 and use the body fat calculator then check below five more things to try if achieving a lean physique is your goal.
- Reverse Your Eating Schedule
Do you eat breakfast? A number of people will say no to eating in the morning and cite no appetite, no time or that they use intermittent fasting. The truth is that those who lose the most weight eat breakfast. And they eat more protein at breakfast.
More interesting still is that we’re starting to understand our chronotypes and circadian rhythms. Our bodies use and store nutrients and calories differently depending on the time of day. In the morning, our bodies convert calories from food to glycogen for use right away. And we are more likely to burn these short term energy stores during the work to come. At night however we are more likely to store these calories as fat rather then burn them.
Making this even more problematic is that many North Americans will tend to overeat at dinner. A better approach would be to eat more at breakfast, less at lunch and the least at dinner. This also helps with better sleep and encourages appetite upon waking in the morning.
2. Get More Sleep
When we hear recommendations for nutrition and exercise we are quoted the minimums, not the ideal. For example, 150 minutes per week of exercise is the starting point not the ultimate goal. And for sleep we need to get at least 7 or 8 hours per night (more for younger athletes).
When we are sleep deprived good things drop. This includes things such as our blood sugar, our production of growth hormone, our mood, our sensitivity to insulin, the ability to resist temptation and the hormone leptin.
A lack of sleep also increases negative things in our bodies including cortisol (stress hormone), the breakdown of our lean mass (muscle), our bodyfat and bodyweight, an over-stimulation of the reward center of our brain and the hormone ghrelin.
To keep your muscle mass, control your cravings, have more stable blood sugar and even moods, make sure to get the best sleep you can every night.
3. Take Care of Your Bacteria
Our gut biome consists of hundreds of different types of bacteria numbering a few billion of these in our gastro-intestinal tract. Some of the bacteria, gram positive, help us maintain health and others, gram negative, cause illness and disease.
Ideally we’d like to keep our healthy bacteria as plentiful as possible but certain things can diminish their prevalence. Poor nutrition, i.e. processed, sugary and fried foods, can disrupt the balance of good to bad bacteria in our gut.
But even when we’re eating as healthily as possible we can still inadvertently disrupt the gut biome. If you’ve had to take anti-biotics this wipes out many of the bacteria in the body, both good and bad. If this is the case for you, look to eat a diet more favourable to your gut bacteria for the next while. A round of anti-biotics can take 6 months to restore so this should give you some idea as to how impacting antibiotics can be on our bacteria.
Be aware that gram negative bacteria flourish when we consume low quality nutrition such as fried, sugary, refined and processed foods. Extra care should be taken with consuming these when on a round of antibiotics.
4. Pump Up the Parasympathetic
Recently my wife and I were walking the dog. And we met some new neighbours from the East coast of the USA. They said they were really enjoying the West coast lifestyle as the eastern USA is all go-go-go. When we’re always in the state of pushing and looking to achieve more we can end up in a sympathetic state.
With too much sympathetic stress, i.e. fight or flight, our cortisol levels can rise. And with this we can see an increase in our hunger or cravings, a decrease in our metabolism, a drop in our energy, impaired sleep and difficulty on maintaining focus on our goals.
A few things we can do to restore the balance to our stress include:
- going for a walk and getting some vitamin D
- watching a fun show or movie
- hanging out or even just talking to a friend
- finding some quiet time to meditate, listen to music or read
The last thing to keep in mind regarding stress, is that the time we feel we can least afford to take a break is the time we need to take a break the most.
5. Keep Score
Sometimes I’ll take the dog around the block for a walk. Other times we’ll head above our house and go for a run. It’s not overly long, maybe 30 minutes. And although I’m not timing or measuring our workouts I know Poppy (our puppy, 1 year) and I are getting fitter and faster. For the first few weeks there would be a lot panting and slurping of water for about an hour after our run. Even Poppy was tired and thirsty. Now when we get back we’re both recovered within a few minutes and ready for more play or work.
The point is that if I was serious about getting faster with my running I would measure it. I would use Strava and see my splits for the various segments. I would know the total distance, elevation and my pace. And of course I would time myself and be striving for a PB from time to time.
But I don’t do these things and so I delay my progress.
This is true of everything in life.
Want to get your financial house in order? Start by checking to see where the money goes each month? Often times we’re surprised to see that our perception of reality can be quite different from where things actually are. For example, we might think we spend about $30 per month going for coffee and this number is actually $54, or 80% greater than our estimate.
What matters gets measured. And for the best long-term sustainable results measure something associated with the process. For example, how many hours of sleep do you get every night? How many days per week are you active? How many days per week do you eat breakfast?
There’s nothing wrong with measuring an outcome goal i.e. weight loss, bodyfat, tape measure etc. But you’ll have better overall results that last if you change your focus to the process and measure this.
If your nutrition and training are as dialed in and intense as they can be and you’re not seeing results try one of the five tips above. By trying one a time you’ll know which one made an impact. Give it two to three weeks and then layer on the next tip. It may take time but you will get there.