I’m excited! We’re kicking off a new series! It’s called Fat to Fit and I’ll be helping you move from wherever you currently are to further along the spectrum towards your goals. This Fat to Fit series is all about sustainable progress.
In part one we’re tackling nutrition and looking at the kinds of small, achievable changes you can make to improve your nutrition in a way that leads to more fat loss.
In parts 2 & 3 we’ll tackle improvements in mindset & fitness and then if we need to and I am happy to do a 4th and final part of the series that is all about your questions, but, for today, we’re focusing on food.
This is quite a lengthy post, please take the time to listen right to the end where I provide 4 detailed strategies to trigger fat loss. Click BELOW…
Now when it comes to nutrition and making changes to what you eat or when you eat or how much you eat, to move along this spectrum from where you are now to where you want to be, I want to be clear that it is a gradual evolution. It isn’t like a complete 180 overnight and you are back to where you want to be, not at all. It is a gradual evolution and it continues to evolve, how you would eat in the beginning of your weight loss evolution will not be the same as how you will be eating if you were only 5kg off your target. Nor should it be, because you aren’t ready to do then, what you are doing now. It would represent too great of a change for you, too much for you to sustain at the time.
A quick side note: If you have questions, message me. This is for you, so I want to make sure that I am addressing your questions and challenges.
Ok. There are a couple of different perspectives along this journey, and I want to make sure that I reach all of you today. It’s most likely that most of you will fall into one of these categories:
- You know what to do but you aren’t doing it.
- You have no idea where to start. You’re confused about food & fat loss and aren’t sure what changes to make or how.
- You feel like you’re doing what you need to do but you aren’t seeing results.
Part 1 today will provide strategies and suggestions for all three.
So let’s start at the beginning.
Lets assume you know nothing, you are nervous, you probably don’t have a lot of confidence in your ability to reach your goals and you are probably questioning your ability to commit to change because you have broken promises to yourself a few hundred thousand times…its ok ..i get it I am here for you and I am here with you and I want to tell you that it does not have to be hard or scary. We don’t have to get rid of anything that you are not ready to get rid of, this is not an all or nothing game.
The first thing I want to address is fear, and you might be thinking that’s not nutrition, that’s mindset, but the reality is many people never change their eating habits because of fear. It’s a very real challenge holding many people back. If you are caught up in your own head about fear or doubt to take action, then the action steps that I share, don’t matter.
I hear from people who don’t make initial nutrition changes because they are:
- afraid of failure, for e.g. not sticking to their diet and being disciplined,
- afraid of the unknown, e.g. what is my life going to look like, how do I navigate social events/occasions, how do I stay motivated,
- or afraid of potential future outcomes that may or may not come into fruition, for e.g. what if it doesn’t work, what happens when I cant use food to numb my emotions, i am going to lose my friends as we always eat/drink together, what if my partner isn’t happy with the changes I am making to my lifestyle?
I want to challenge those thoughts, because I do not think its helpful. Firstly, worrying about or being scared to death about something that hasn’t happened, just isn’t a good use of your energy. All that you can do, is in this moment right here right now. It might be totally freeing and amazing to not use food to numb yourself, you might create deeper more meaningful relationships with your friends/partner or what if it DOES work….
Most of the stress we feel is stress we manufacture, is stress we create. Maybe it’ll suck, who knows? The point is, it hasn’t happened yet and don’t let it stop you from taking action because its not real, it hasn’t happened, and it might not ever happen. You focusing your attention on something that is waaay out in front of you, is paralyzing yourself here is the present and not taking action because of something that may or may not happen.
There are two problems with the fear of the unknown perspective. And this example is not in isolation, this fear is more common than we think. This fear of what is it going to be like when …….:
- It has nothing to do with what you can do today. To build confidence and make progress towards your goals. It is a distraction and it is not a helpful distraction.
- It completely ignores all of the other options on the table. It laser focuses on 1, one that is subjective and negative. Being subjective, basing decisions on emotion instead of fact, on what we fear instead of know to be true, is rarely a good thing and the combination of subjective and negative is particularly destructive.
When we limit our present power, when we give our energy and attention to things that haven’t happened yet, its like the brand new business owner freaking out over finding an affordable warehouse space, before they even have a product to sell, before they’ve even sold their first product. If you keep focusing on problems you’ve imagined you’re never going to need to solve it because you are never going to get there. Or the person thinking about weight loss “what am I going to do about all the loose skin” before they’ve even lost a kilo…
You are clipping your wings, with a fatal blow from your imagination. You’re imprisoning yourself in your own mind. You are manufacturing problems that don’t exist. You are creating a problem for every solution, and that is issue number 1.
So if you are struggling with fear, with worry, with things that haven’t happened and might not every happen…I want you to ask yourself a few questions of your fears:
- Does this fear have anything to do with what I am able to do right now in this moment?
- Is this distracting me from what I can and should do right now in this moment?
- What am I choosing not to acknowledge or recognize when I focus on this fear? What are all the potential scenarios? Write it down objectively.
- What can I do right now, in this moment that will help me move towards what I want?
I really think that addressing the fear part is really important, and now we can talk about FOOD!
Before we go any further, keeping a food journal/diary for 1-2 weeks is your starting point. If you haven’t don’t this before, don’t change anything about how you would normally eat, you just need a food journal without calories or anything fancy. What you eat and how it makes your feel. How hungry are you, when you eat? What are you having cravings for and when? I just want you to start paying attention, that’s all.
You can do that, and you will do that. After 1-2 weeks, I want you to review your journal and ask yourself, what is the one thing that I can improve here, that I am willing to improve here, just one…
For e.g. soft drink with lunch, dessert after dinner. So often people provide their journals for me to look over and they go isn’t it the worst, that doesn’t help, what are you willing to change? Just one thing…..is that a perfect change NO does it matter NO it is an improvement your you and your body. For the first week or so, it’ll probably suck. You would feel like you are missing out on the chocolate/donuts/ice cream but over time, it will get easier and easier and then I would encourage you to look for one more improvement.
Guys & gals, when we over commit ourselves to change, we reduce the likelihood that we will execute or we will execute 3 days out of 7, that’s not a habit, it never gets deeply rooted in our patterns in our behavior and our choices. When we overcommit ourselves we get frustrated, we make progress more slowly. And I use this example as out of left field as it is, but its true, lets say you want to learn a new language, cool, awesome, go, you’re super excited, you’re pepping yourself up and you are ready to work hard, in 6 months you are going to know Spanish and French and Italian.
Let’s unpack this – you have a finite amount of time, energy and attention, of that time, energy, attention that you have, how much of that is devoted to each language? And I hope that you are drawing the parallels with the 7 different changes that you are trying to make with your diet all at once. How much time, attention and energy gets devoted to making each change? Very little, so how quickly do you make progress, not very. And how quickly do you feel frustrated and feel like you just can’t do it. Your chances of quitting are high because your consistency and your rate of progress are low. We want consistency and rate of progress to be high so that motivation to continue is high.
But if you said to yourself, you know what, this week I am going to learn how to greet people in Spanish. I’m going to practice that 5 times a day and I’m going to get really comfortable with that and then I am going to move onto the next thing or phrase, maybe introducing yourself. You’ll build confidence really quickly because you’ll make progress really quickly and because you feel more confident and can see the progress, you will stick with it.
That is the approach that I want you to take for fat loss.
Now some of you might feel like, as I said earlier, you might not know where to start…maybe you’re looking at your food journal and you genuinely don’t know what you should change. Let’s talk about that…
As far as where to start, we firstly need to understand the relationship between a few things, as in like food and calories and hormones, we need to understand fundamentally how they relate to fat loss. And it does not need to be complicated, be really wary of anyone who is trying to complicate things with pills or shakes or strategies, guys & gals, we can keep it simple.
Here’s the deal, food, provides fuel for your body. And it gives information to your body. The type and amount of food you consume determines what happens to it, is it stored? Is it burned? Does your body ever have the need to tap into your stored bodyfat for energy or not? Fat burning is allowed under 2 conditions, and they both have to be present.
- Your body needs energy and you aren’t consuming enough of it, AND
- You have the hormonal signals firing that allow for or instruct fat loss.
There are 2 different states in your body, and you are always in one of them, and you are never in both of them at the same time. Understanding this is the key to understanding the relationship between food and fat loss, it is not as simple as calories in and calories out. That represents a flawed or incomplete understanding of your body.
So, these 2 different states and you are in one or the other and not both.
Or in lay-mans terms fuel storage V fuel breakdown. Think about it this way, imagine your body is a storage unit, your body is either adding to storage or taking stuff out of storage. When we eat, the body responds with “oh great, we’re getting fuel” and just like a truckload of stuff being delivered o the storage unit, you have to unpack the truck, right. Unpacking the truck is digestion. Your body is first going to take what it needs, to breathe, to move, to keep your heart beating, all of that requires energy. Healing, repair, recovery, every single cellular function requires energy, but once your body has taken all that it needs, the leftovers, gets stored.
Fat burning happens when your body needs energy and there isn’t any coming in. it unpacks your fat stores when the hormonal signals are present, that it can unpack the fat stores and it should. When your body isn’t in the process of unpacking or unloading. Insulin is a key hormone here and that is why a lot of people are struggling to burn fat, because they don’t understand how to manage their bodies insulin response or how to improve their bodies insulin response.
Insulin is the messenger that tells the body that the truck just arrived to unload. Insulin lets the body know that its unload the truck time. The presence of elevated insulin inhibits fat burning because this is the anabolic mode. Insulin is the usher that takes the nutrients in the body around the body to provide fuel. Insulin is the guy unpacking the truck. Here is what we need remember, carbohydrates drive a more significant insulin response than fat or protein, which means CHO create the response of “nope, no fat burning right now” more than protein or fat create that response. And many people struggle to burn fat because they keep driving an insulin response all day, every day. They keep sending trucks to the storage facility, either by, and there a few ways to do this, constantly eating, especially carbs – juice in the morning, then your cereal, maybe a piece of toast then sugar in your mid morning coffee a few hours later, with a piece of fruit, rice with your lunch, a muesli bar in the afternoon, pasta for dinner, and then some ice cream for dessert. Just as insulin finishes its job, you’re there being like “but wait there’s more!” right.
OR maybe you drive this insulin with the quantity of carb you are consuming, maybe you aren’t eating every couple of hours going “but wait there’s more” but you’re slamming your body with such a big load, multiple times throughout the day. OR maybe you are doing both of these things…
So when it comes to food for fat loss, we want to focus on managing or minimizing the insulin response. We can do that in a couple of ways, and I want you to choose 1, JUST 1 that is going to be the easiest for you to manage and sustainable for you:
- You can dial back the quantity of things that drive an insulin response. Now we can’t just eat less forever and expect to continue progress, this can be a good starting strategy, perhaps you aren’t overhauling the entire meal, just a portion of it that creates a small reduction in insulin response. That can be a good starting point. But its not going to work forever to just eat less, that doesn’t work because fat loss relies on hormonal signaling, so over time we have to work on healing our insulin response and maybe that’s where you want to start.
- One of the things that I recommend is practicing carb timing. An easy way to implement this is to cut your carbs at the first meal of your day. Don’t worry about lunch, don’t worry about dinner, just focus on that first meal of the day, building it around fat and protein. You will have less of an insulin response to start your day, keeping your body in more of a fat burning state.
- The other thing you can do it eat less frequently. If you are currently having 3 little snacks that you take to work that you pick at here and there….cut out one of them. Pick one thing and practice it.
- For those of you that are in the place of “I am doing everything right but I am not seeing the results that I want” lets look at how often and how significantly you are driving up insulin. What can we do to moderate your insulin response just a little bit more that what you are doing right now?
And let me first make the point again about the way that macronutrients drive insulin; CHO drive insulin the most, then protein because excess protein can be used to make glucose/sugar which can create an insulin response, and fat drives insulin the least. So the common traps that people fall into when they feel like they are doing everything right is :
- Eating too much protein, so pick one meal of the day and cut your protein by 25% at that one meal.
- Another trap that people fall into is eating when they are not hungry. When you are doing your food journal, pay attention to when you are grabbing a snack because you are bored or you’re procrastinating. Even when snacks are healthy and its great that you are making food choices, but the reality is every time you give your body fuel, no matter what that fuel is, when you don’t need fuel…your body has to do something with it! If your body doesn’t need it, it is going to store it and you have temporarily taken away your fat burning potential.
So, if there is one particular time of the day that you are doing this, maybe mid afternoon or after dinner, make one degree of improvement there. if you always have something after dinner, for the next 7-14 days focus on having just half of what you would normally have. Or having that post dinner snack, choose one of the macronutrients that drives insulin less than what you are having right now.
You do not have to go cold turkey here, it’s a spectrum, food is a spectrum and fat loss is a spectrum. So look at where you fall on these spectrums; how often are you eating? How much are you eating? Are there improvements that you can make? Then look at the choices of food you are making.
Understanding that carbs drive insulin the most, then protein, then fats. What improvements can you make to the extent that you are driving an insulin response?
So, in the next part of this series we are going to be looking at the mindset aspect of fat loss. Remember if you have questions on this topic, please be sure to email/contact me so we can address these in the next part.