Secrets the Weight Loss Industry Dont Want You to Know
The weight loss industry (think diets, diet books, slimming clubs , slimming pills) is above all else business; their sole existence is to make money and boy do they make money. In the first quarter of 2010, one weight loss club giant made over 200 million, that’s around 66 million a month.
Now don’t get me wrong with all that money spent there will be an element of weight loss success, some people will have lost weight for their investment, many won’t. Upwards of 90% of people embarking on slimming or weight loss based activities fail.
Why do people fail at weight loss?
I believe that many people fail at weight loss because they are approaching it in the wrong way and they don’t choose the right support.
People have been led to believe that calories in calories out are the only way to manage weight. People have been told that cutting portions, cutting calories, and going hungry is a sacrifice you have to make to shed unwanted body fat.
What elements need to be in place for successful weight loss ?
• The right foods
• The right hydration
• The right hormonal balance
• The right lifestyle
• The right recovery and regeneration strategy
The right foods
Now I’m going to be pedantic here to make a point. If everything relies solely on calories and you had a set daily limit, then it really wouldn’t matter where your calories came from. For example, if you were allowed 1500 calories per day (500 lower than the supposed daily intake for a normal woman, whoever she is?) that could be made up of a large Big Mac meal and a mars bar. So if you restricted yourself, in theory, lose weight, and for a while, you might, but you would be severely confusing your body.
Although that’s a simplistic and drastic example this is essentially what calorie and points related programmes are saying; you can eat whatever you like as long as it meets your daily limit.
This is where many weight loss programmes fall. If you are constantly hungry and don’t have Jedi mind control, you will at some point give in to cravings. The best way to avoid this is to limit the chances of cravings altogether. A craving is your body telling you that you need something, that your body is missing a vital nutrient. As an example when you crave chocolate it is the magnesium you are craving, if you had enough magnesium through your diet, this wouldn’t occur as regularly or as forcefully.
To keep it simple, when you give your body everything it needs it stops asking for more food. If your diet is predominantly healthy, highly nutritious and from a variety of natural sources your body will not crave anything else. The caveat to this is it will take a short period to overcome cravings for sugar and caffeine based products as we are addicted.
It’s interesting to note that one of the weight loss giants has now completely reversed its beliefs to focusing more on healthy eating.
The right hydration
Some of the many benefits of good hydration:
• You look and feel younger.
• You are more alert.
• Your digestive system sends nutrients to cells more efficiently.
• Weight control is restored.
• Ability to handle stress is enhanced.
• Pain from aching joints is reduced.
For today I will focus quickly on digestion. Simply if you aren’t well hydrated, your body can’t absorb all the nutrients from your foods. If you can’t absorb nutrients from your foods, your body will crave them.
The right hormonal balance
They are the messengers that tell your body how to work and react and have strong control over your fat stores to the point that if you can control specific hormones, you can target specific areas of fat storage within your body.
As an example, two hormones insulin and glucagon facilitate fat storage and fat burning. Insulin is our fat storage hormone. When we bring heavy carbohydrate based meals or very sugary products into our body, Insulin works to stabilise our blood sugar levels by storing sugars in the muscle, liver and the fat stores. As the storage in the liver and muscle is limited, any excess will be stored as fat (this typically ends up on your love handles). Glucagon is our fat burner it works to mobilise our fat stores to be burnt for energy production. Glucagon can not work when insulin is active so if you have a barrage of carbohydrate based foods in every meal our fat burning hormone can’t do its job as often as we like so we get more storage and less burning. That’s not to say carbohydrates are bad, they aren’t, but the timing of their intake for weight management is essential to enable your hormones to work for you rather than against you.
The right lifestyle
Unfortunately, there are certain elements of our lifestyle we can’t always control. You can choose your job, but you can’t always choose how you operate within that job. You can’t always avoid the traffic on your way home.
A lot of elements in our life are stressful, and this again impacts on your weight loss. Typically speaking our stress response is natural, something stresses us our body reacts with the fight or flight nervous system response until the stressor is removed.
With our current society, however, our stress response isn’t as it should be. The stresses we face like sitting in a traffic jam are not life-threatening, but they still cause a hormonal stress response. Cortisol (our stress hormone) is elevated during stressful times to start a series of important fight or flight reactions. When stress is moderate but consistent however the continuous influx of cortisol can affect other hormonal pathways that lead to fat storage. It is slightly more complicated than this, but the takeaway point is that too much stress is bad for your weight loss efforts so finding ways to relax, unwind and cope with your day-to-day stressors is necessary.
The right recovery and regeneration strategy
Whether you are training as part of your weight loss plan or just following an eating plan recovery and regeneration is essential. We have already discussed how hormones play an active role in your weight loss success and your recovery patterns will affect hormonal balance.
Our bodies releases Cortisol, the stress hormone, that we discussed previously on a circadian rhythm. This means that at certain times of the day and night it is higher and other times it is lower. The time that you sleep is far more important than how long you sleep for recovery and regeneration due to this rhythm.
When you are awake after 11 pm, your cortisol levels shoot through the roof (this is why you can get that second wind and feel awake later in the evening) which has a knock-on effect on the depth of sleep and recovery you achieve. When you go to sleep late, you don’t reach the deep recovery sleep for as long leaving you tired and stressed the next day. The elevated cortisol levels the next day and through the repeated late sleep cycle has a knock-on effect on your fat storage.
There are further training recovery issues related to growth hormone effected by poor sleep patterns that I will address in a future article but for today just understand that early sleep is better than long sleep.
My advice if you are looking to start a weight loss regime is to find a personal trainer that can provide a more holistic approach to your weight loss support plan as it is so much more than just training and dieting in the typical sense.