Here's a stat for you: self-directed fat loss programs fail a staggering 98 per cent of the time. There can be a number of reasons for this but one of the most prevalent misconceptions is that weight management, in particular fat loss, is all about counting calories: “Calories in vs calories out”.
If it’s all about calories in vs calories out why is it that some people lose weight and others don’t – no matter how little they eat? The general notion is that we get fat because we eat too much food. What if you’re getting fat, or likewise not losing fat, because you’re stressed out? You’re skipping meals? Your body’s hormonal systems are no longer responding as they should? The food you’re eating has no nutrition in it so your body thinks you’re starving?
These are just some of the issues that have a huge impact on fat loss and fitness development.
The myth or mantra for people wanting to tone-up is “eat less and exercise more”! Well, burning up more energy on a treadmill may lead to weight loss, but there is no guarantee that the weight will be fat.
In addition, the combination of fad or yo-yo dieting and chronic cardio-exercise cause considerable muscle loss, food cravings, metabolic dysfunction and places excessive stress on joints and the immune system. This invariably leads to fatigue, loss of motivation and potential injury: the three major reasons why people drop out of fitness regimes and result in the shocking failure rate.
Research has shown that people whom follow the calorie approach gain all, if not more, of the weight (as fat) back within 4-6 months of completing their efforts. In effect they have starved themselves, subjected their bodies to excessive stress, effectively torturing themselves, and end up in a worse position 6-9 months down-the-line.
The missing piece of the puzzle is the hormonal changes required for sustained, healthy fat loss. For example, insulin and glucagon control sugar usage and whether fat is stored or burnt off.
Ghrelin and leptin are hunger hormones that send messages to the brain controlling how much you eat. If your eating or lifestyle habits stimulate increased or decreased levels, or are resistant, to these hormones you experience food cravings or reduced satiety levels no matter how much you eat.
If you’re wanting successful, sustainable fat loss then a good place to start is by answering these simple questions:
- Do you eat at regular intervals throughout the day?
- Are you eating enough protein and a wide variety of vegetables?
- Are you including enough healthy fats into your diet?
- Is your digestion working properly? If you experience bloating, gas, lack of energy after eating, it probably isn’t.
- Do you incorporate relaxing activities into your week to manage stress?
- Do you move, perform gentle physical activity, throughout the day?
- Are you getting 7-8 hours of restful sleep per night?
If you answered no to any of the above questions then you may be stalling your optimum fat loss and health goals by creating hormonal imbalance.
Hormones control the internal function of our bodies and eliciting the most beneficial hormone response will be more advantageous than counting calories.
KiwiFitness, Phil Kelly’s Phnom Penh personal training service, provides professional services through a holistic approach.
Courses booked through Phil Kelly's website.