If you want to succeed where others have failed…

I shot a video blog in the gym but there was a bit of background noise from the radio and so on so here’s the text version to go along with it.

If you wanted to succeed where others have failed, what would you do? Should you do the same as everyone else, or something different? Do what hasn’t worked out for anyone, or do the opposite?

When it comes to dieting for weight loss, we know the statistics say that 95% of the time diets fail to result in long term, sustained weight loss. Worse than this, the reality of dieting in the conventional sense is that not only do people regain the weight they have lost, but they continue to gain weight and end up more over weight than they were in the first place.

Those are the stats and I might dig up the studies and add links later but really, you know this is true already. It’s a common story from people who’ve done whatever diet and “it was good, I lost 10kg. But then when I stopped I put on 15kg”.

Why this happens is pretty simple. All diets that result in weight loss do so by restricting energy intake. Either by using meal replacement shakes, low calorie meal plans, excluding certain foods, or whatever. The people selling them might try to tell you there is some other reason to do with the inherent goodness or badness of certain foods… but that’s bullshit. It is about energy intake.

Now the problem here is that these by definition are not sustainable approaches. You temporally reduce energy intake, and temporarily lose some weight. Then what?  You go back to your old eating habits and regain the weight. You go back to your old habits either because the diet has a duration built in, or just because you’re fed up with eating things you don’t like and missing out on the things you do like.

So, you return to your previous eating habits, your previous energy intake, and your previous weight. That’s best case scenario. Quite likely you actually over eat and go beyond your “normal” energy intake as a result of having restricted for so long. Worse still though, is that for however long you have been restricting energy intake you have actually been training your body to run on less fuel, to conserve energy, and prioritise the storage of energy within fat stores.

You gain weight, or more specifically you gain fat by habitually consuming an amount of energy that is in excess of your requirements. While dieting, you train your body to get by on less energy. Therefore when you return to your regular eating habits, they are effectively more excessive than they were previously.

I could bore you with the science on this, but do you really need it? You’ve observed this happening enough times already. You know it is what happens.

Now, this applies to people who are in training with an athletic condition goal too.

Active people have a higher energy requirement than less active people. People participating in sport, even more so. People training for a lean body condition need to provide a suitable amount of protein and energy so as to allow the body to priortise fueling the muscle at the expense of body fat.

In my observation over several years, people who are training but not seeing results are usually not over eating. If they are just training and not paying any attention to diet, maybe they are. If they are training and paying some attention to diet, especially with calorie targets or a “clean eating” approach, they are usually not eating enough to provide the energy and resources that they require to facilitate results.

So then. What happens?

Training regularly, not gaining any weight, not losing any weight, not leaning out or seeing any changes in body composition. Usually, people will start to talk about going on a cut. Cutting carbs, eating clean, whatever you call it, whatever method… it’s reducing energy intake just the same as people going “on a diet” would do. However in this case, we’re failing to see results at training due to not being adequately fueled, and we reduce even further.

This may result in some small change in condition, but it will be temporary at best as the level of dietary restriction is unsustainable. Or worse, upon failure to see further changes in condition the athlete may conclude that further restriction is called for.

This can, and frequently does spiral out of control with disastrous consequences.

Let’s cut to the chase here.

Dieting, in the conventional sense serves no purpose other than to train your body to run on less fuel and to conserve whatever it can. The very opposite of what you want you want if you have a long term weight loss goal.

In active people training with a performance or condition goal, your requirements are quite high and you will not see results in terms of improved body composition (aka more muscle, less fat) by slashing further and further below those requirements.

Rather, active people should do the exact opposite. The exact opposite of what most people do. When you want to succeed where others have failed, you do something different.

Therefore. Rather than slash intake for a temporary result, then eventually gravitating back towards your usual habits and usual (or worse) condition, maximise intake towards the uppermost, optimal amount of total energy that you could expect to utilise for performance, recovery, and positive adaptation to training.

Train the body to put more and more energy and resources into lean mass where you want them, enabling greater performance and improved condition. When you return to eating more in accordance to your appetite, you’ll still be at a suitable amount, but less than your body has gotten used to.

Where do you think it is likely to draw energy from to make up the difference?

Dieting trains the body to run on less, and then it doesn’t know what to do with a normal amount. Fueling up trains the body to put more and more to good use.

Critical Thinking in the fitness industry, as rare as tits on a bull!

A guest post from Austin Lawrence. 

As fit pro’s we’re always saying “I wish the medical profession would take us more seriously.”

Yet this past couple of weeks showed us exactly why they don’t and won’t for a long time and highlights that our profession really is in still its infancy!!

In the past couple weeks I’ve been greatly entertained by the comedy I’ve seen on Face Book but at the same time I’ve though “geez, why the heck do people believe this crap?”

Now I’m not singling any person out in particular, I’m generalising and I understand that as fit pro’s we’re passionate about what we do and over all we mean well, but the problem is that we have lost (if we ever had it in the first place) the ability to critically think!

Take the Oreo’s More Addictive Than Crack headlines that hit the news recently.

Snorting Oreos

You may view one of the articles in question here.

Within hours it was all over Facebook by the orthorexic “clean” eaters as proof  that their way is indeed THE correct way. Rather than actually reading the article and think it over critically, they read the head line, it confirmed their existing bias and they hit “share” in a nanosecond!

Now if anyone had read the article fully they would have seen that in researchers at Connecticut College designed a rat maze with Oreo’s on one side and rice cakes on the other. The researchers found the rats preferred Oreo’s over rice cakes. No shit!! Rice cakes taste like cardboard Oreo’s are yummy.

In another experiment the researchers measured which side of the maze the rats preferred when on one side they were offered saline injections and on the other side they were offered injections of cocaine and morphine.  The rats spent just as much time on the cocaine and morphine side of the maze as they did on the Oreo side in the other experiment.

Did anyone actually realize this experiment DID NOT compare Oreo’s with morphine and cocaine??!!

They didn’t have Oreo’s on one side of the maze and morphine and cocaine injections on the other!!

The researchers monitored brain activity in the rats in both experiments and they found that “Oreos activated significantly more neurons”

Big deal we know that high reward foods stimulate the pleasure centre of the brain.

All that happened was that the Oreo’s lit up more neurons in the pleasure centre of the brain. This in no way shape or form means Oreo’s are more addictive than class A drugs. You know what else lights up the pleasure centre of your brain? Sex, video games, stroking your pet cat or dog or your favourite sports team winning!!

Now there’s a few things wrong with this thinking.

The most obvious being the study was performed on rats. Now last time I checked I’m a human and all my clients are humans as well. What applies to rats may or may not apply to humans.

There was no experiment that compared Oreo’s to Cocaine and morphine.

The study was a press release. It was not presented in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. We have no knowledge of the study design, the methodology etc, all we know of is the researchers conclusions. Most of all though is that it’s an absolute insult comparing Oreo addiction to class A drug addiction!!

Pictures like this crack me up..............see what I did there?
Pictures like this crack me up… see what I did there?

As soon as the Oreo’s More Addictive Than Crack BS went viral pictures like the one above started popping over all over Face Book by people who possess the ability to critically think. I loved these pictures as it showed the absolute stupidity of comparing Oreo’s to cocaine.

To compare Oreo’s to class A drugs is an absolute insult to anyone addicted to hard drugs. I worked in a pharmacy for over 6 years. In that time I saw countless addicts come in for their Methadone. Some were probably never going to kick their addiction but a lot of these addicts were genuinely working hard to kick their addiction.

Imagine having the audacity to tell an addict “hey you know what else is addictive as class A drugs? Oreo’s-true story” You would quite deservedly receive a slap.

I wish common sense would prevail, but common sense really aint so common!

If you would rather your clients not have Oreo’s because you would prefer them to eat less rewarding foods meaning they’re less likely to over eat then that’s cool.

If you would prefer them to eat foods containing more vitamins and minerals and fewer calories per serving, then again cool. Just don’t make crap up that is ultimately nothing more than sensationalism and scare mongering!

On the subject of sensationalism and scare mongering, if you missed my article about sugar addiction making you fat you might like to go check that out next.

Flexible Dieting For Weight Loss and Recovery

Simply put, Flexible Dieting means meeting your nutritional requirements with a plan based around all of your favourite foods.

The only reason to “go on a diet” should be to ensure and develop a habit of consuming an appropriate intake to suit your lifestyle, and to train your appetite to match those requirements.

Once your requirements, your appetite and your intuition (re: choices of foods) are in tune, you’ll feel like you are just eating whatever you fancy whenever you’re hungry, and you’ll be seeing better results from training than ever before. Sadly as we all know, this is precisely the opposite strategy that most people have in mind when they think “diet” and adopt restrictive, starvation plans requiring the elimination of any foods that they enjoy eating. The results of these conventional diets are the opposite as well.

For Weight Loss:

Contrary to popular belief, you do not lose more weight by eating as little as possible, and you don’t “earn” weight loss by forcing yourself to eat things you don’t like and depriving yourself of any indulgence. Quite often, my weight loss clients actually eat MORE following my guidelines than they have done previously, and there is no guilt involved when they include some indulgent foods within their plan.

Here’s what we need to consider when building your Flexible Dieting plan for weight loss:

  • Expected maximum calorie target to fuel your lifestyle and maintain your goal body type, long term.
  • An interim maximum calorie target, at a suitable deficit to promote weight (fat) loss, shorter – medium term.
  • Minimum calorie target required to fuel your lifestyle and see results from training. Regularly falling below this target would be detrimental.
  • Suitable fibre intake, and a suitable balance of macronutrients. That’s protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables for an adequate supply of micronutrients. That’s your vitamins and minerals.

Within that target calorie range, we know that absolutely everything we put into the body WILL be utilised as fuel, for recovery and to adapt to training. Obviously some choices of foods will be easier to fit into a plan to meet these targets than others, but there is no need to avoid anything entirely or to start feeling bad whenever you eat something that’s “bad”. If you enjoy it and can fit it into your plan and still hit your targets, it’s all good and will all be put to use. Even ice cream.

For the fussy eaters:

If you’re good at eating your vegetables, get a good variety and this should go a long way towards meeting your fibre and micronutrient requirements. If your choices are more limited; include the ones that you do like regularly, and if there a few that you “aren’t crazy about, but can stand now and then” you should try to include a little of those as often as you can, too.

This is all about making the best choices for the most suitable plan that you can stick to. It is NOT about trying to force feed yourself things that you can’t stand. If your success with this plan inspires you to experiment with and include some new choices of vegetables all the better, but if not, hey it is still an improvement. You don’t have to be perfect.

Fruits are another excellent source of micronutrients (fibre too), as well as being absolutely delicious and enjoyable. I encourage you to indulge on a variety of fruits every day, within the context of a plan that meets but does not exceed your targets. Don’t listen to any idiot who tells you fruit is not a great choice. Tell them to shut their damned dirty lying mouth.

For Recovery:

If you’ve been a victim of crash or yo-yo dieting with conventional, restrictive approaches you already know how damaging they can be to both your body and your mind. The first thing, and perhaps the hardest thing that people need to understand about recovery is that it does not mean “accepting defeat” and giving up on the idea of your goal body type. It means the opposite.

Here’s my best advice on how to use Flexible Dieting to create the mindset for recovery:

  • Focus on exceeding your minimum requirements to ensure you are fuelled up for great results, rather than on restricting intake.
  • Train productively to build your goal body, rather than just exercising “to burn calories”.
  • Understand that so long as you are within your target range for total intake, every calorie you take in will be put to good use in making you stronger, healthier and happier – regardless of the source.
  • Stop thinking that results from training (and for that matter, your worth as a human being) is dependant on having the willpower to abstain from anything enjoyable at meal time. You’re here to enjoy life and indulge your passions. You have to do the work too, but that is something to take pride and satisfaction from.
  • Believe in your own potential for greatness, and be motivated by that belief.

Isn’t this exactly what you need? If so, jump to my new Flexible Dieting sign up page for a whole lot of important free information.

DaveHPT Custom Flexible Dieting Guidelines: Testimonial

Here’s a nice video testimonial from a great supporter and customer of mine, who was smart enough to follow the Custom Flexible Dieting Guidelines I produced for her a while back.

As you can hear for yourself, the benefits of Flexible Dieting, and in particular MY approach to Flexible Dieting are many and varied. The benefits of being aware of and focussed upon exceeding your minimum requirements, rather than on restricting to some arbitrary “very low calorie” target should almost go without saying. Let’s run through some of them in random order all the same:

  • You’re actually fuelling your body properly, enabling good health and great results from training.
  • You quickly learn to build your own plan, consisting of more of the foods you like to eat, including some purely for enjoyment.
  • As you learn the macronutrional value of different foods and train your appetite to be more in tune with your requirements, you will be far less likely to over or under fuel when eating intuitively.
  • Understanding just how much fuel their bodies will utilise to fuel, recover from and adapt to training, and with no restrictions on what food choices are included in meeting those requirements, my clients soon feel like they are just “eating whatever they want”, and still seeing better results than ever before.

Meat Eating Hippies, And The Paleo Diet

A guest post from Cat Smiley.

Q: How do you know when someone is on the Paleo Diet?

A: They’ll tell you!

I’ve kind of seen enough Paleo status updates to last me a while. And yes, sure – it’s got the benefits – why else would it have become one of the most buzzed about celebrity diets right now?

Beauties such as Megan Fox and Jessica Biel crediting this way of life for their red carpet bods can’t be wrong. I mean, even Miley Cyrus (who isn’t exactly known for taking advice or being logical) is raving about her experience “Everyone should try no gluten for a week! The change in your skin, physical and mental health is amazing. You won’t go back!” Cyrus said. “It’s not about weight — it’s about health. Gluten is crap anyway!” LOL Awesome review, coming from an actress who clearly doesn’t value health all that much as told in a Rolling Stones Interview: “I think weed is the best drug on earth,” Cyrus said. “Hollywood is a coke town, but weed is so much better. And Molly too. Those are happy drugs — social drugs.” Now because this blog post is for my buddy Dave, I can’t resist mentioning that this young lady is Justin Beiber’s mentor; perhaps the Paleo Diet makes him feel the need for multiple shirtless selfies? Oh jeez.

So what is it?

You eat anything that can be fished, hunted or gathered. The principal is that you eat high protein and low carbohydrates in whatever quantity you want, and do whatever exercise you want to do…. and if you want to do no exercise, that’s okay too, apparently. Anything that evolved through the development of agriculture is off limits, which includes dairy, salt, processed sugar and oils, legumes. Hippy….much? Maybe a little.

What do you eat?

The main types of foods included in Paleo diet are fruit, vegetables, roots, nuts, fish and meat. Processed foods like salts, sugars, dairy products and grains are prohibited. Adapting to the Paleo diet can help promote weight loss as refined sugar and junk foods are avoided, with instead body fat used as a source of energy.

Weight Loss Benefits

Most people going Paleo eat much more fruit and veges than they’d normally eat. This means that they’re taking in more fibre, a definite benefit in improving gastrointestinal motility – key players in optimal functioning of the digestive system. Improved digestive system means improved metabolism. If you are using Paleo diet for weight loss then meat and fish should also be taken in minimal quantities and focus should be more on fruits, vegetables, root vegetables and nuts.

The good stuff

The Paleo Diet is scientifically proven to help stave off degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility. “The Paleo diet is a very healthy diet”, says Dr. Loren Cordain, PhD, Colorado State University professor and the author of “The Paleo Diet”. Benefits of eating this way include improved blood pressure and glucose tolerance, increased insulin sensitivity, decreased insulin secretion and improved lipid profile in healthy non-obese sedentary people.

I did a shout out on my facebook page and one poster, Michael Kovacs said: “I’ve been Paleo for several years now, lost 110lbs. Reversed all my ailments including asthma, sleep apnea, High Blood Pressure, Improved my cholesterol score, Reversed T2 diabetes. Best of all I don’t get sick anymore. I attribute my successes to living a HFLC, Paleo lifestyle which includes a diet with lots of healthy fats, low carb vegetables, and pasture raised/grass fed meats and fish.” Nice work Michael!

The not-so-good stuff

Well for one, I promote a vegetarian lifestyle and the Paleo is all about meat, meat and more meat. And then when you’re done? Have some more meat. The crazed out protein intake can NOT be good for the kidneys. So if you do this diet, stay smart about your portion sizes. Keep your total protein intake the same as you normally would, and don’t go Atkins in your approach.

Secondly. The ‘carbophobic’ mentality. My personal training clients who have sworn by the Paleo cult – because it really is – has led many great people to have really terrible sleeping patterns and even personality disorders. It starts with bad breath and leads to carbohydrate deficit of serotonin being able to be produced naturally in your body, which in turn converts to melatonin in your sleep. Lack of sleep opens a whole other can of worms.

With all its benefits there are also some of its harmful effects on health as some diets such as whole grains, legumes and dairy products also prohibited which are essential for our health. Absence of calcium increases the risk of osteoporosis and also decreases body calcium level, which can put women over 55 years old especially at increased risk of fractures and bone density issues.

Final Word

If going Paleo, do it for a short period of time. Once you hit goal weight, go back to your regular healthy diet. Oh, and while you’re on it, kick ass workouts should happen on a daily basis. Track your protein, carbohydrate and fat intake in an app on your smart phone so that you are on track with the recommended macronutrient ratio in line with your goals.

Cat Smiley is a leading body transformation expert and has been named Canada’s top trainer three times by the International Sports Science Association. She is the author of The Planet Friendly Diet, and owner of Canada’s première weight loss retreat for women, located in Whistler, Canada.

Flexible Dieting vs Restrictive “Clean Eating” For Weight Loss

This is the continuation from the IIFYM vs Clean Eating For Weight Loss post of a couple days ago.

As promised, in this entry I’ll run through a couple of the reasons braniacs on the internet dispute the efficacy of the IIFYM or Flexible Dieting strategy, and I’ll show that all you need is a shred of common sense to see the absence of logic in their… logic.

Now, as I’ve said in the past, I’ve got not problem with people adopting whatever diet they want (so long as it is healthy enough), and no problem with people recommending whatever diet they want so long as the reasons they give as to why people should follow that approach are true and accurate. So, for example the concept of the so called “paleo” diet does not stand up to scrutiny in either the claims that “this is what our primitive ancestor ate” (cos it isn’t) or the ludicrous implication that no one ever lost weight or was normal size through any other method other than paleo style dieting, because all these other foods spell instant doom.

That’s a load of nonsense, but if people where to say something like “here’s a diet that’s built on more nutritious, natural foods that will allow you to eat more, feel full, and get an appropriate balance of macro and micronutrients to meet your goal” then fine. And if people read about it and go “you know what, I can do that… I mostly eat all those foods anyway”, then good. It is only when unscrupulous marketers LIE to people who already have a poor relationship with food, and already doubt their ability to be successful in weight loss that this becomes a major problem.

So with that being said, on to the top 3 lies that lying liars use to make people think this is all a really complicated and difficult thing to get right, and only they have the answers. Inspired mostly by Vince DelMonte’s facebook page. What a guy he is. Wow.

1. Calories In Calories Out is a flawed model.

This is the usual first claim that comes up, that bodyweight is NOT determined by overall calorie intake. Now to back this up, you’ll usually be given an extreme example of what happens when people excessively restrict their intake of calories. Well… I’ve written a million words on the subject already. It’s true that when you over restrict, survival mechanisms kick in producing a hormonal response that allows the body to conserve and store energy to maintain a weight that is NOT proportionate to calorie intake.

What’s our system called again though? It’s If It FITS Your Macros, not “if you restrict to a completely inappropriate amount”.

Argument invalid.

2. You get fat when you eat carbs, because carbs drive insulin and insulin drives fat storage. Total calories is irrelevant.

This line of nonsense was made up by Gary Taubes who for the record is not a nutritionist, dietician, trainer or athlete. In the body building world it is pushed by morons like Vince DelMonte amongst others. Now… you can ask these guys to explain how this works and they’ll tell you “because excess carbs are stored as fat, it’s not due to surplus calories”. Now… correct me if I’m wrong but don’t “excess” and “surplus” mean the same thing? And if you dialled in a plan based on appropriate total calories and an appropriate amount of those calories coming from carbohydrates, would there actually be ANY surplus to be stored as fat?

This is the sort of junk science that has otherwise intelligent people restricting FRUIT of all things because they’re scared the fructose will make them fat via an insulin spike. It is MADNESS.

Argument invalid.

3. Total calories and over eating is not the issue, it is choices of foods. If you eat grains you get fat. 

Hell, I just read that if you eat meat from a cow that has eaten grains in the last 3 months of it’s life, you’re screwed too. Where do these idiots come up with this stuff? This “caveman diet” nonsense has already been debunked by enough archaeologists, anthropologists and historians a dozen times. We’ve been eating grains and bread for tens of thousands of years. This notion that grains are to blame for the obesity epidemic as if no one ever ate them before the 1980s is completely ridiculous.

Argument invalid.

So… it goes on and on and depending on who’s nonsense you are reading you need to be concerned with everything from inflammation, to glycemic index, micronutrient content, how those micronutrients effect uptake of other micronutrients, lord knows what else. It’s all absolute garbage, and for an average person to be at all concerned with these things is actually classified as an eating disorder, known as orthorexia nervosa.

Throughout history there have been countless millions of people who were not overweight or obese despite never giving a thought to any of this. They simply ate “about the right amount” most of the time. Still today, there are countless people who have been overweight or obese and have gotten into shape just by consuming an appropriate amount more often than not.

Now, whether you can win a body building contest on a Flexible Dieting plan is for other people to argue about, but I can tell you without any doubt that you CAN use this approach in conjunction with a good training plan, and get into better shape than 90% of the human population.