Thursday, October 18, 2012

Secrets the Weight Loss Industry Doesn't Want You to Know

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Today's article discusses and reveals some of the "secrets the weight loss industry doesn't want you to know".
I'm going to do my best to avoid this being a rant as I'm quite passionate about many of the issues here but we will see how it goes.
Firstly we shall look at what the weight loss industry is and isn't.
The weight loss industry (think diets, diet books, slimming clubs, slimming pills) is above all else a 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 being spent there will be an element of weight loss success, some people will have lost weight for their investment, many wont. Upwards of 90% of people embarking on slimming or weight loss based activities fail.
That's a shocking statistic, however big bucks weight loss company know that those very same people will assume they did something wrong, that it was their fault that they didn't stick to the plan, and they will very likely sign up again and again to the same or new slimming "sensations" which promise the world but often fail to deliver long term weight loss success.
Why do people fail at weight loss?
It is my belief 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 is 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.
Elements of this are true, if you reduce your calorie intake below your daily energy usage over a consistent period you will lose weight...presuming all other elements are in place to allow this to occur.
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 to just eating those two things you would in theory lose weight, and for a while you might but you would be seriously messing up your internal environment.
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.
So why doesn't this work? You body doesn't know calories, yes if there's an abundance of energy it will store it and for a while if there's a lack of energy it will use your internal energy reservoir (fat stores, muscle and liver glycogen and muscle tissue), however if those calories don't bring useful nutrients with them you will continue you to be hungry regardless of what you eat.
This is where many weight loss programmes fall down. 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 strongly.
To keep it simple, when you give your body everything it needs it stops asking for more food. What this means is that 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 of time to overcome cravings for sugar and caffeine based products as we are essentially 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 effectively.
  • Weight control is restored.
  • Ability to handle stress is enhanced.
  • Pain from aching joints is reduced
For the purpose of 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. If your body craves more nutrients you will be inclined to eat more food, so in essence even if you were only eating healthy foods as mentioned above, your hydration status still needs to support your weight loss efforts.
The right hormonal balance
This is a huge topic and one that I will address individually in another article but for now here's a few ideas to take away. Your hormones play a massive part in everything your body does. 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 necessary 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 complex 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 are essential. We have already discussed how hormones play an active role in your weight loss success and your recovery patterns will affect hormonal balance.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, that we discussed previously is released by your body 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 ho long you sleep for recovery and regeneration due to this rhythm.
When you are awake after 11pm 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.
Bringing it all together
The purpose of this article has been to highlight to you that weight loss or more specifically fat loss is a much bigger process than just calories in calories out so you can make an informed choice when looking for support.
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.
I hope this article has been useful for you and I welcome any comments and questions,
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