Mid-Week Musings: Water Retention and Scale Weight in Females, Chasing Exercise For Fat Loss and Why Going Meat Free Isn’t That Great.

Here are the pressing questions of the week from the gym- you ask I answer!

Water Retention and Scale Weight In Females.

In conversation with our female clients this week there were questions about why weight fluctuates through a calendar month. The conversation follows the line of “I have eaten perfectly for the last week- exercised, tracked everything on myfitnesspal and done everything right but I have not lost weight.” Scale weight loss is not a linear thing all of the time because we have to account for fluctuations in body water through the month. Any women who has a menstrual cycle has 4 phases, in these phases water retention is affected as following:

Early follicular (first 7 days after menstruation): Low water retention.

Late follicular (days 7 to 14 after menstruation): Estrogen release causes water retention due to a change in sodium handling.

Early luteal phase (first 7 days after ovulation): Low water retention.

Late luteal phase (7 to 14 days after ovulation): Drop in progesterone causing a rebound water weight gain due to a change in sodium handling.

So there you have it, in the late follicular and late luteal phase there is a predisposition to retain water hence weight fluctuations on the scales.

Chasing Exercise and Fat Loss.

Simply, if you are chasing large volumes of activity to make up for your high calorie diet your habits and behaviours will not be shaped to deal with periods of inactivity. As diet is largely habit based disruption to your activity levels means it is incredibly hard to then change your habitual eating habits to match your activity. An hour of exercise may burn anywhere between 200-600 calories but if this how you are creating your deficit to diet then this may prove an issue if you lower your activity levels. Tracking your food intake can help understand your current behaviours and reviewing your intake is sometimes useful when looking to make changes. Daily exercisers may be commended for their efforts but if your goal is weight loss and you are exercising daily and not losing weight your nutritional intake is the issue, not your exercise programme. See it as more exercise is like buying an extra bucket for your leaky roof rather than fixing the hole in it. Exercise is obviously a positive thing but the aim should be to improve aspects of your fitness improving your quality of life not just to nullify poor nutritional behaviours.

Why Going Meat Free Isn’t Great.

Vegan and vegetarian diets are gaining popularity at the moment for no other reason than “trend.” On a quick poll at the gym today most peoples opinion where they are “healthier.” It’s simply not the case. I’m not going to discuss the reasons that people don’t consume meat and/or animal products on ethical grounds, that is people’s own business. The general perception of their “healthier” status is fundamentally wrong. Any exclusion based diet can leave you deficient in certain nutrients. Primarily these deficiencies can be seen in vitamin B12 (anemia, nerve damage and cognitive impairment), iron (oxygen transfer and depression) and zinc (growth impairments in the young and mood). If removing dairy products then there can be a deficiency in calcium (when deficient inline with Vitamin D rickets may be prevalent). Supplementation can be used to fill these gaps but it is worth noting some of the symptoms above if you are deciding to change your lifestyle. From a macronutrient perspective you are able to consume a suitable amount of protein from a variety of sources. What you are inclined to see though is that protein based foods may have take along carbohydrates which if you are looking to control calorie or carbohydrate intake it may be a issue. Any diet has a positive and negative aspect but if you are removing quality unprocessed lean protein animal products from your diet it may prove sub-optimal for health if you don’t fill the gaps nutritionally.

 

What Does 1500 Calories Look Like?

Practical usable advice is the name of the game. We are told to eat healthy and we know that calories make up food. We even know that certain foods have different calorie make ups. Where most people struggle is putting it all together in to a daily plan.

What we have here is a base 1500 calorie day focussing on lean proteins and sensible amounts of carbohydrate and fats. For some people this may be enough food- for others it may be a good base before snacks depending on your size and your goals.

Feel free to share your snaps of your creations with us and if you decide to tweak any of the recipes with your own spin!

 

Breakfast

Low Carb Egg Breakfast Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 red pepper
  • 3 spring onions
  • little cherry tomatoes
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 50g of cheddar or your choice of cheese.
  • ½-1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chilli powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 390°F.
  2. Wash and dice the pepper, onions and tomatoes. and put them in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Wash the spinach, lightly chop it and add it to the bowl as well.
  4. Add the eggs and salt. Mix well. 
  5. Add the chilli- add depending on your preference for heat!
  6. Grease the muffin tin with oil and kitchen paper/baking brush and pour the egg mixture evenly into the muffin slots. (If you think they might still stick to the pan use some muffin cups or cut out some baking paper and to use as cups.
  7. Add the cheese, grated or layered.
  8. Pop the tray into the oven for 15-18 minutes or until the tops are firm to the touch.
  9. Bon Appetit!!

This is about 250 calories a serving so 2 will do the job to start of the day (original source http://www.hurrythefoodup.com).

 

Lunch

Spicy Chicken and Avocado Wraps

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast (approx 180g), thinly sliced at an angle
  • generous squeeze juice ½ lime
  • ½ tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 seeded wraps
  • 1 avocado, halved and stoned
  • 1 roasted red pepper from a jar, sliced
  • a few sprigs coriander, chopped

Method

  1. Mix the chicken with the lime juice, chilli powder and garlic.

  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan then fry the chicken for a couple of mins – it will cook very quickly so keep an eye on it. Meanwhile, warm the wraps following the pack instructions or, if you have a gas hob, heat them over the flame to slightly char them. Do not let them dry out or they are difficult to roll.

  3. Squash half an avocado onto each wrap, add the peppers to the pan to warm them through then pile onto the wraps with the chicken, and sprinkle over the coriander. Roll up, cut in half and eat with your fingers.

This is about 400-500 calories so perfect as a sensible lunch (original source www.bbcgoodfood.com).

Dinner

Healthy Steak and Chips

Ingredients

  • 150g baking potatoes
  • 5ml olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 175g lean beef rump steak
  • 1 tomato
  • 50g button mushrooms
  • 80g mixed leaf salad

Method

Preheat oven to 220°C / Gas Mark 7 / 425°F

  1. Peel and cut potato into 8 wedges.

  2. Place on a baking tray and brush with 1 tsp olive oil. Sprinkle with paprika.

  3. Bake for about 35 minutes or until cooked through and crispy.

  4. While the potato is cooking, grill or griddle the steak, 1 tomato and a few sliced mushrooms.

(Original recipe courtesy of www.weightlossresources.co.uk).

And for those of you who want to pimp that steak up a bit check out Jamie Oliver’s how to guide… https://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/how-to-cook-the-perfect-steak/

How to Lose Weight Off Your Thighs.

As part of trying to write occasionally I have thrown the content out to Results FAST gym and personal training members this week to answer their questions:

The first question to come back is “How do I lose weight on my thighs.” I’ll explain the “why it’s there” before the “this is what to do.”

In general, this question most of the time is only asked by women. Why? Well females have different fat deposition patterns to men. Simply women store fat preferentially on their chest and thighs while men generally are more predisposed to storing body fat on their belly. These is thought to be hormonal in nature though there are also some slight subtle differences in sites called adrenoreceptors which are found around their hips and deal specifically with fat mobilization. We are all slightly different from person to person and this is also seen in our fat deposition patterns.

The issue with the adrenoreceptor balance highlights that people may preferentially store fat in a certain area. It also means that it becomes hard for fat to be burnt in the lower body- primarily because the catecholamines (which adrenaline is the one most people will recognize) can’t act on the specific cells they need to and rivalling adrenoreceptors also play a role in decreasing blood flow meaning if this balance is one way rather than the other you will have a preference to store body fat in this area and it will be harder to mobilize fat from this area due to lower blood flow. Which pretty much sucks if you are one of these people…. But what do you do and how do you preferentially burn fat from the thighs though?

While you can cannot directly target an area for fat burning you can work the muscles in that area to build muscle and lean tissue which has a greater effect on elevating your metabolism and turning over more calories at rest. This doesn’t necessarily lose weight of our thighs but will help tone that area. Typically, if you are a beginner body weight exercise could work but resistance training may provide a better variation of training load and stimulus to help you progress quicker.

Reducing your calorie intake to a level where you are in deficit will mean that fat will be more likely to be mobilized though these areas tend to be stubborn and take time to reduce in size. There are no magic foods or plans which apologize whole heartedly for.

Activity as a whole will help. Low levels of activity will increase calorific burn, and this is a good thing. That said it can take a long time if you are primarily using low level intensity exercise for your weight loss (it’s effective but patience is a must).

Modifying your training programme may also be effective. Interval training or training at a higher intensity is a useful strategy and could be considered the most adrenaline stimulating activity. It’s not the complete answer but may help if you incorporate it as part of your programme. Organized weight training may have the same effect as interval training if programmed properly. Low level activity such as walking can be really useful if you have a low threshold for exercise and poor fitness levels but it can be incorporated in to your programme at any point.

There is no magic bullet but in turn knowing what hand you are holding is always important before you play cards. It therefore makes sense that you utilize the right type of programme if shifting lower body fat is your target.

The Week That Launches a Million Diets

Welcome to the new year (I obviously hope it was a happy one). Also a big welcome to our new gym website/ blog. We painstakingly rebuilt this whole caboodle before Christmas and while we may not be challenging Facebook or Wikipedia for content I hope that this provides an insight in to what we do at Results FAST. In turn the other website I run www.ianmellis.com I am going to use for more technical articles on programme design/ personal training stuff. This site is more a reflection therefore of the questions I get asked daily (sometimes repeatedly) at the gym and also will include a lot more current affairs articles.

So this week (if you look at the papers and TV schedule) there is a proliferation of diets on display. Some old, some new…. what remains consistent is the deluge of diets happens every year at the same time. If I see the slogan “new year/new you” I generally consider that the PR/ marketing team finished work in November. Anyway what was wrong with the old you in November? Did Christmas and the change of the year create an immeasurable shift in your self that you need to consider reinventing yourself as an Elle McPherson/ Gerard Butler body model? “Old you” didn’t like green juices and quinoa and also January is too cold for salad but it’s not going to stop you.

With the rise of social media and the dropping of attention levels (apparently 4 lines of text or 4 seconds of video before you click something else online) to the information provided short term solutions get a lot of attention. One such thing I saw the other day was apple cider vinegar mixed with grapefruit and himalayan sea salt. You’d be lucky to survive the first mouthful…. It may remove stubborn body fat…. but only because you can’t face eating anything after that concoction. The celebrity expert dominates the media this time of year. Celebrities are not training experts. Indeed they may work hard but they definitely shouldn’t be your first source for fitness and training information. What has happened in effect is the removal of the expert. Experts are boring because they know stuff and say ambiguous statements like “it depends.” We want answers goddamit and if it means I can juice it then great. Even better put it in an Instagram post because I couldn’t possibly handle words- I mean reading is so 1985.

If you are still reading this (thank you!) you are probably at the point of saying what’s my point here. Well to cut through the misinformation out there and give you an operating system of how to diet (if you need to). It’s not really Instagrammable and it’ll take more than 140 characters so Twitter is out the window. As for Facebook unless they pay for advertising you may not even see a post from a page you like- instead you will see Kurt*from Florida and his instaflex* system which all can be yours for £9.99 (and 15 subsequent payments of £2000).

*Kurt and instaflex are both made up- just like the results they promise.

Yes- I am going to explain the celebrity personal trainer secrets that only supermodels and bodybuilders know.

This statements generally run true for losing weight in the New Year. Just consider these points in relation to what you may be trying to achieve. Christmas often encompasses over eating and weight gain leading people to feel anxious and desperate. These are ideal people to sell things too as they “need” a solution.

Most solutions that work in the “long term” have the following in common.

  • You have to eat less than you need to lose weight.
  • The “best” diet is the one you stick to.
  • Whatever you do consistency and sustainability count.
  • Your friends do it? It doesn’t matter it may not be right for you.
  • Long term goals are not achieved with short term strategies (perhaps my favorite quote about nutrition and fitness (and possibly life)).
  • Don’t just remove negative behaviours, add positive behaviours. This creates a sense of achievement rather than than just removing a habitual behaviour.
  • There are no magic foods that are “super”, they will not make you lose weight.
  • There is no magic structure to how you eat.
  • There are no magic macronutrient (protein, carbs and fat) ratios that work for everyone.

So how do you set yourself up for success. Tips vary and not all will be relevant to you but consider the following:

  • Understanding what’s in food can help you make better decisions.
  • Rough portion control is as effective as measuring everything you eat.
  • Plan your meals and create structure that you can adhere to.
  • Build activity to become a habitual behaviour.
  • If you need help consult a qualified professional.

At no point here have I mentioned superfoods, carbohydrate removal, low fat dieting, carbohydrate cycling or anything overtly technical. Why? If your goal is to lose weight you will need to eat less. As a general rule if you are overweight it probably isn’t because you have a week metabolism (it can be but it’s unlikely). The likelihood is that you have eaten more than you need to maintain your former weight.

While not being revolutionary the framework of what actually underpins success for a lot of the people who work with us. Often with diet the process works like this.

Person: I want to lose weight.

Trainer: Here have this list of foods to eat and eat only this.

Person: Sob

Providing an eating list of meal plan does not set you up for success. It may provide help but it’s not the full picture. The process around habit development and long term success is fairly nuanced- there are a lot of different things going on from person to person which one diet system does not guarantee success on. Most of the shelf diets focus solely on the what you do rather than allowing you to develop your own framework. Why? This is the hardest part surrounding a diet as habit formation is hard. Especially when it involves change.

Where to start then? Well I always suggest think of one goal- not necessarily the overall goal of lose weight but one with more of a time driven emphasis e.g. lose weight by a  holiday, lose weight so I can wear his dress/ pair of trousers. Once you have set this goal think about your current habits. What do you do regularly? What behaviours do you perceive as negative? What are you doing well? Where do you need help? From here find solutions- counter negative behaviours by adding a positive behaviour e.g. eat more green vegetables, regularly have a healthy breakfast etc. Add behaviours- don’t just punish yourself, this is what parents do to a naughty child and you are not a naughty child. You are an adult who knows better- create behaviours and structure that empower you, make the decisions around what you are going to do- after all these decisions are all positive as they result in an overall improvement in your health (which you may miss when it’s gone by the way).

Health changes by the way are a poor motivator for change when it comes to exercise and diet. Recently in a survey about undertaking a gym membership “changing room cleanliness” came a strong second “improve health” came seventh. What does this mean? People care about fluffy towels but not fluffy arteries? I’m not sure but getting switched on to health improvements will improve all aspects of your life. This is where I’ll rap this article up as it sort of brings things full circle. If your lifestyle is set up to improve your health rather than dieting to lose weight the overall message of positive behaviour change is stronger as you are looking to change things by doing things that are good for you. Diet has an implication of removal of the things you enjoy and has a negative undertone that you have been doing everything wrong. Perhaps make your new year goals around health improvements, tidy up your food intake by learning a bit more about food, up your activity level (I got a fitbit for Christmas and I enjoy playing around with it). Most of all pick some things to do, create structure and do your best to commit to them the best you can.