Fat is essential to our diet. We need to consume some fat as it contain important nutrients and essential fatty acids. Vitamins A, D, E are fat soluble, which means they can only be absorbed with the help of fat.
As with carbohydrates, fat has a lower TEF (Thermic Effect of Food) than Protein. In fact, carbs and fat have the same TEF. This means you will burn between 5 to 15% of the calories of the fat from the digestion process. Therefore you consume 200 calories of pure fat, around 10 to 30 calories will be burned by digestion.
Fat is the most calorie dense of the three macronutrients but as stated above it is needed and is not the enemy.
If fat loss is your goal, you will need to understand that fat comes at a high calorie cost. Calorie deficit is the key to fat loss so limiting your fat intake and making smart choices will be necessary.
There are two main types of fat; Saturated and Unsaturated. *Ideally no more than 10% of your daily calorie intake should come from saturated fat.
Saturated Fats are found in both sweet and savoury foods and are mainly found in animal products (meat and dairy) although there are exceptions such as coconut oil.
Examples of saturated fat include: Fatty cuts of meat Sausages Meat pies Butter, Lard and Ghee Cheese Cream and Ice Cream Biscuits, Cakes and Pastries Chocolate Bars
Unsaturated Fat is mostly found in oils from plants and fish.
To reduce your risk of heart disease and maintain healthy levels of cholesterol it would be wise to reduce your overall fat intake and try to ensure you consume mostly unsaturated fat.
Examples of unsaturated fat include: Olive oil and spreads made from olive oil Rapeseed oil Some nuts i.e. Brazil, Almond, Peanut Avocados Sunflower seeds Oily Fish i.e. Herring, Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel
Now, Carbs get a really bad rep and a lot of fad diet trends will preach the virtues of removing carbs from your diet. The true fact is though, there is no good reason to remove carbs from your diet. Carbs are not the enemy. Carbs provide us our energy for exercise, and for general life and they help our brain function.
I am sure we all know at least one person that did some low carb diet and said how easy it was and how much weight they lost. Hell, I’m one of them – back in 2003 I did the Atkins diet and yep, I lost a tonne of weight… for a while.
The truth of it is any diet where you cut a quantity of food will work for weight loss in the short term, as you are creating a calorie deficit. But cutting carbs for a period of time means that your body becomes carb resistant and when you reintroduce carbs, your body has a hell of time trying to figure out what to do with them and in the main, this results in some pretty serious weight gain. 2004 was my fat year, after I couldn’t sustain Atkins any longer, and to be honest, nor did I want to.. I wanted Pizza!
The key to sustainable fat loss is calorie deficit. Not Keto, Not Paleo, Not Intermittent Fasting (especially not this for women as it has proven to have detrimental effects for women, especially menopausal women). You can achieve calorie deficit by those means and if thats your way then hell, you do you but for most of us, we want to enjoy our food, ALL our food and that includes the energy boosting, brain boosting carbohydrate.
We know, as I talked about it in my Protein blog, that the body burns more calories digesting protein (known as the Thermic Effect of Food “TEF) than it does the other micronutrients. You will burn anywhere between 20 to 35% of the calories of the protein just from the digestion process. That figure drops to 5 to 15% for carbohydrate. Therefore you consume 200 calories of pure carbs, around 10 to 30 calories will be burned by digestion.
In the ideal your carbohydrate consumption should be based on food rich in fibre, as fibre helps keep you fuller for longer and has many benefits for gut health.
Wholefood carbohydrates such as grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables are also rich in micronutrients and have wide ranging benefits for body function.
Carbs are split into two types; Simple and Complex, based on their chemical structure and how easily they are absorbed by the body.
Simple carbs are easily absorbed by the body and include fruits and honey.
A lot of processed and refined foods are simple carbs and these are the ones that need to be limited within a diet to achieve fat loss. Think biscuits, cakes, sweets and chocolate bars.
Complex carbs take longer to digest and include things like rice, beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, potatoes parsnips, wholemeal bread and pasta and wholegrain cereal.
If you are trying to change your body composition then you need to get to grips with calorie deficit (you can read more about that here in a previous blog; Calorie Deficit ) AND balancing your macros.
Calorie deficit will equal weight loss. Balancing macros will ensure fat loss.
When it comes to fat loss, understanding protein is key so here are the simple facts about protein and fat loss.
1) We digest protein more slowly that the other macronutrients (carbohydrates and fats) which is the reason we feel fuller after eating protein. Including a good lean protein source at every meal will help you feel full and less prone to snacking due to hunger. Protein at breakfast is THE best way to start your day.
2) The body burns more calories digesting protein (known as the Thermic Effect of Food “TEF) than it does the other micronutrients. You will burn anywhere between 20 to 35% of the calories of the protein just from the digestion process. As an example; you consume 200 calories of pure protein, around 40 to 70 calories will be burned just by digesting it. This means eating protein can both increases your energy expenditure and your calorie deficit. Win Win.
How much Protein should you be eating:
As a general rule of thumb you should be consuming 1.6 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. This will help keep you feeling full, support fat loss while also maintaining muscle mass.
If you are an athlete or you train heavily several times a week you will need to increase this to 2.2 to 3.4kg per kilogram of bodyweight.
Some Good sources of Lean Protein: Chicken / Turkey breast, 5% fat Beef Mince, Pork Fillet, Tuna, Cod, Prawns, Egg White, Low Fat Greek Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Seitan, Edamame, Tofu, Tempah. *this list is not exhaustive
PLEASE, Please stop giving your hard earned money to lazy bloody Herbalife distributors! *This was originally a facebook post but deserves a space here 🙂
Yes, learning about nutrition and how to successfully manage your diet (which just means your daily intake of food and drink) may take a little more time and effort but it is worth it!
You will save money and have the knowledge and skills you need to control your own life.
Why on earth would you want to make someone else richer just because they tell you they’ll get you results (they claim) you can’t get on your own?
News Flash… of course you can!
Think about some of the bullshit lies these “coaches” (they are distributors, not coaches!) tell people:
1) Fruit and Veg has no real nutritional value anymore.
Seriously? You are buying this? You honestly believe you need to buy expensive supplements because it’ll be better for you than eating real fruit and veg
2) It’s not a meal replacement.
Yet they tell you to replace your breakfast with their product as it’ll be better for you… why? (And also, it says it right there on the product!)
WTF is wrong with eating actual food. Nothing, except they can’t make money from that!
3) Drink this “whizzy tea”. You’ll burn up to 80/100 calories.
Right, just fuck off now! How, and I mean seriously how, can you burn up to 100 calories just by drinking a tea
Also… did you know that in 2021, as a company, they still test on animals???
If this post gets one person currently wasting their hard earned money on Herbalife to stop and think it’s a win for me!
All we see is posts and stories from distributors showing how great their lives are, talking about how easy HL makes their lives (not your life by the way, theirs!) they care about money, not helping people.
Yes we see endless posts of people looking smaller holding up newspapers but guess what restrict calories by replacing meals with shakes and anyone can get those results. And, “anyone” does. You don’t have to learn anything about nutrition to become a seller.
I get tapped by a HL seller at least every 3 months “hey, I’ve got a great opportunity for you”
I occasionally entertain their enquires just to find out more (or I’m bored and fancy a laugh). I usually ask about the training I’d get and I get list upon list of all the sales training but not one mention about actual nutrition training.
Did you know those in the top echelons are reported to be earning +£400k a year from this pyramid scheme
Yup, they make that much money just from convincing others to sell and building up their “team”. Because that’s another fun piece of this ridiculous puzzle… if you try their products you can pretty much guarantee you’ll be tapped up to sell. You are a cash cow in so many ways!
Come on people!
Any Fit Pro selling HL is fucking just lazy. Don’t be lazy too and help them with their “blessed” lifestyle.
Put some effort in, learn about nutrition and make YOUR life better, not theirs.
If you want some help drop me a message and I’ll try and help you with the basics. It’s not as complicated as you maybe think.
If you want to read and learn, buy any of the books by The Fitness Chef (and give him a follow on social media)
If you need a protein supplement (and do you know that you do actually need it!) buy direct from a decent company that doesn’t still test on animals.
If you need Aloe Vera it’s about £8 a bottle from Holland & Barrett, and yes that’s 100% pure. Rather than the 40% stuff they sell for approx £30!
The same goes for most, if not all, of their supplements!
There is not 1 valid, viable reason to need Herbalife
The response to that interview has been big and a lot of you have positively responded to it, telling me that changing the way you think about it, and even just renaming it, has allowed you to build a better relationship with the rest day.
However, I know there are some of you that are either still not convinced, or still struggling to get your brain to get on board. You know its a good thing to do but still, that little voice inside your head is telling you to stop being lazy, get up, get out etc etc.
I decided to reach out to another one of the people inside my village to look at it from a slightly different angle. I asked my friend and Sports Therapist, and owner of LP Sports Massage, to give me her thoughts.
Here’s what she had to say:
First off Louise, have you ever struggled with taking rest days or have you always embraced them?
I have actually always tried to have at least one day but definitely when I was new to the gym I would try and do a fitness class or my own hit session pretty much every day and it also became a routine. Its only now that I see the benefit of giving my body time to recover so I altered my routine and aim to have rest days on a Thursday and Sunday to split my week out. I try and listen to my body though and if I need to move a rest day around because I am feeling fatigued and aching I will, so I can hit my session hard the following day and get the most out of it.
If you struggled, why do you think that was?
Probably the fear of missing out on a workout because I enjoyed Group Exercise classes (pre CrossFit love). And I thought, initially before getting better educated about nutrition and the big part is has to play, that training every day was the way to get fit and lose weight.
Demi now thinks of them as Grow days, as these days off help her ‘grow her muscles’. For those that are still struggling with this idea… without getting too technical, can you break this down a little more?
Your muscles store carbs in the form of Glycogen which are used during exercises. Rest allows you to replenish these stores before your next bout of exercise. When they are depleted and the stores aren’t replaced you experience muscle fatigue and soreness know as DOMS.
Muscles also need rest to repair the microscopic tears that exercise causes, to help make them get stronger and also fight through plateaus in training. The rest days are actually when this magic happens!
If you try and workout whilst fatigued even the most basic movements feel hard work and your technique falls down. If you can’t do the basics then you definitely shouldn’t be pushing your body to add weights to the mix.
I talk to my clients all the time about the dangers of overtraining. The two big ones being 1) your performance will start to plateau or even worse, decline and 2) you’ll damage yourself!
Do you see a lot of injuries caused by people not taking enough recovery?
Yes!! The most common injuries I see are overuse – where people increase their volume too quickly and they haven’t been used to that amount of training, or they are just not resting enough/at all and letting their bodies recover.
In simple terms fatigued muscles make you susceptible to injuries.
For example fatigued Triceps from loads of push ups can cause strain on the joint (the elbow) as that aims to help take the load from the muscles that are struggling to still perform the movement. But this can result in inflammation within the joint, potentially causing a pinched nerve so tingling down the arm or reduced range of motion in your elbow. This consequently has a knock on effect on your training. You see where I am going…
Also tightness from not stretching post workout or a build up of knots (build up of muscle tissue) can restrict blood flow and oxygen to your muscles- basically depriving muscles from working at their full potential. If niggles or tightness are ignored the little issues get worse causing more problems or referred pain, and potentially bigger injuries so you end up being out of training longer anyway.
Anything specific people can do on their grow days to aid their recovery?
Making sure you keep up your water and protein intake. – protein for grown and repair of your muscles – water because it is a key nutrient in the makeup of the synovial fluid, which helps lubricate your joints and allows for ease of movement. Also it helps to reduce muscle cramping and can make you more alert and have more energy for workouts.
If you sit at a desk all day or even sit on the sofa a lot try to just get your body moving not vigorous exercise but more a gentle walk, utilising any free time to really stretch out your hips, shoulders and lower back especially. You’d be surprised how stiff these areas can get from sitting in the same position for approx. 8 hours a day. This will all help make the basic patterns easier anyway and you will soon notice the difference.
Thinking more in general – how often should someone stretch and can you stretch too much?
Doing 5-10 mins every day is great for improving flexibility and can alleviate tight muscles, but being realistic it is unlikely people would stick to that. A couple of times a week would be beneficial and probably more likely to stick to. So maybe instead of sitting on the sofa all evening you could do a bit of stretching on the floor whilst watching your programme on tv? Or focusing on doing longer stretching sessions on your rest days, whatever works best for you.
Using an app such as GOWOD can be a great tool as it can be tailored to your weaknesses and give you great stretches if you don’t know what to do for all different areas of the body.
Whats your best piece of advice for all us regular people who are just working hard to become better?
Enjoy the process, don’t push yourself so much you burn out physically and mentally you will soon see it isn’t sustainable powering through muscle pains and training exhausted!
Enjoy those days off training because you’ll appreciate how much harder you can hit your sessions after them and start seeing your performance in training improve and even hitting PBs which of course everyone gets excited about!
You can find out more about LP Sports Massage by following Louise on Social Media: Facebook: LP Sports Massage Service Instagram: lp_sportsmassagetherapy
Rest Days. For anyone that really cares about their performance they are as important as Training Days… so why do so many people struggle with them?
I’m one of the lucky ones as I have never really struggled with taking my rest days.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been involved in various sports from a young age, maybe it’s because I work within the fitness industry and all my training has taught me well, or maybe I’m just a little bit lazy and just like the idea of taking a day off (this last one is only true once about every 4 months just FYI!)
As I say, I’m one of the lucky ones as I know that many of my clients, class members and training friends at CrossFit Iron Duke struggle with whole concept of taking a day off from training.
I’ve asked a few of them what the issue is and the things I get told range from “I can’t face taking a day off and hampering my progress” to “I need to exercise every day”
These are not good reasons not to take your rest days and actually there is no good reason not to take your rest days. It has been proven over and over again that rest days are as essential to your progress as the training you do.
My Nutrition Coach (Owner of Deep Health Nutrition) and fellow CrossFitter, Demi Stephens recently wrote a post on Instagram about her ‘Grow Day’ and I instantly loved the concept. I could see that this different way of thinking might help other people so I decided to ask her a little more about it.
Here’s what she had to say…
How long did you struggle with the concept of the Rest Day?
Probably ever since I first really got into the gym and training… so it was probably about 10 years!
I am definitely someone that has over-trained in the past.
Why was that?
I used to think that I was ‘missing out’ on a workout, or that I needed to train every day to get fitter and stronger.
If my muscles weren’t hurting then what was I resting for? I didn’t realise that my overtraining was working against me and I just wasn’t given my body a chance to catch up with itself.
Even though I was pretty much injured all the time, I still trained. I couldn’t see that my lack of recovery was probably responsible.
You now call them ‘Grow Days’… how did this come about?
This actually evolved from a conversation with my Coach at CrossFit Iron Duke – Toby Cooley – a couple of years ago. He would programme me specific ‘rest days’ and more often than not (if I actually had one) the rest day would end up being a mentally low day too.
So back in March 2019 the idea of referring to them as a “Grow Day” was born … and the idea that when I am “growing” the magic is happening!
How does this change of name help you?
It took a bit of time but it shifted how I viewed the day, I wasn’t missing out. instead I was literally ‘growing my muscles’. So it began to feel like I was accomplishing something and working towards my goals.
Grow days then became a thing… If I had a day away from the gym due to work or to study, it was still ‘a grow day’.
If I couldn’t make it to the gym due to a niggle or an injury, it was just another grow day.
With your Nutrition Coach hat on, is there anything else you think is important to understand?
I honestly didn’t realise just how much recovery was part of the process.
If I could go back in time and have a word with my 30-something self I would!
Recovery is SO important.
Simply put, exercise = a stressor.
So even though we often use exercise to relieve our stresses, it also puts our body under physical stress.
All those body systems that we simply don’t see and take for granted have to work a little bit harder to restore a happy balance.
If you think of yourself as your mobile phone, once that battery starts getting nearer 0% and that red line appears you know you’re going to need to give it a full charge to get it working again.
Well that IS your body.
You know that feeling when you can’t perform the way you are used to, weights feel heavy, you feel achy, tired, moody and generally ‘meh’… this is your internal systems trying to get your attention as they are starting to struggle.
If you don’t give yourself a chance to recharge that battery (recover) then your body will end up deciding for you and force you to stop – usually with an illness or an injury.
Can you use your nutrition to enhance the effectiveness of your “Grow Day’?
There is that saying “muscles are torn in the gym and fed in the kitchen”. Well this is just as important on a ‘grow day’.
I make sure I hit my protein targets – so that my muscles can repair themselves.
I keep my water intake up – so that I remain hydrated.
I make sure I eat my carbs – so my glycogen levels are restored.
My body needs “feeding” so it can recover, repair and refuel itself so I can smash my next workout!
Do you ever still struggle to take the day off?
I actually now look forward to a ‘grow day’ and I treat myself to 2 a week!
I am still active on these days and will usually go for a nice walk to keep my body moving, but I see it as a day to give my muscles some TLC so that I am ready for the next day.
Demi Stephens owns Deep Health Nutrition. You can follow her on instagram (deephealthnutrition) and Facebook (Deep Health Nutrition)
One of the first things I knew I had to do as part of my IM journey is lose a bit of fat and get as lean as possible.
I am by no means big but by making myself as lean as possible I give myself another key for success, alongside my training.
This was one of the things I discussed with my coach, Kerry, in that initial meeting. Literally the week before I had signed up for the IM I had set new goals for all of my lifts and was going to focus on improving all things barbell related. Funny how things can change so quickly! All that had to go out the window and the focus now has to be using lighter weights and moving faster.
Anyway, back to the fat loss bit. I had my daily macro targets, I had the different targets for different days depending on how active I was on each day so now it was time to invest in the paid version of MyFitnessPal and get to work.
In my first 6 weeks this is the change in my body composition:
Fat %: – 2.8%
Muscle %: – +1.8%
And, this is the change in my measurements:
Bust: -1 inch
Back: -+/- 0
Waist: – 1.5 inch
Stomach: – 1 inch
Hips: – 1.5 inch
Not a bad start, I still need to lose about another 4kg in total but it’s careful and slow process as quick weight loss usually means muscle loss and my goal is fat loss and becoming lean. It isn’t just about the number on the scale, nor should it ever be.
Although it’s careful and slow, it isn’t complicated. Companies like Slimming World and Weight Watchers make it complicated but they are businesses and their main aim is to make money. They thrive on repeat business and sadly, their businesses are booming. We all know roughly what we should and shouldn’t eat. We are generally all aware of foods that are nutritionally good and those that bring us little or no benefit.
If you want to lose some fat and change your body composition for the better you just need to do the following… and it’s all free! It’s simple, you can have the things you want, nothing is off limits, you just can’t have everything you want. Then you can take that money you give to these crappy “weight loss” companies and use it for something good.
Figure out your calorie deficit (read my previous blog post for more info)
Download the MyFitnessPal app and set up a free account
Track your daily consumption and be honest about it
Keep your daily macros at roughly 50% carbs, 30% fat and 20% protein
Make sure that less than 10% of your daily calories come from junk food and things that have little or no nutritional benefit.
Give yourself a break if you have a day where it all goes wrong. Forget about it and make sure the next meal you have puts you back on track!
It really is that simple. No, it isn’t always easy but for the general population, it isn’t anymore complicated than this.
I’ll check back in in a month and update you with my progress 🙂