Updated: Jan 5
I have a new client who came in to see me recently feeling very frustrated. After struggling with her weight for a long time and being on countless diets she never got the results that she wanted. Her frustration came from always feeling like she could never just 'enjoy life' and hit her fat loss goals.
We recently did a nutrition focused coaching session and she had some really great questions:
- Should I eat small snacks throughout the day to stoke my metabolic fire?
- Does my muscle weigh more than fat?
- During some diets I was on in the past I would eat less calories but STILL not see a changes in my shape and my weight?
- I should never weigh myself right?
-Are probiotic and prebiotic foods, gut health and microbiome talk all just a new fad?
Guess what? The answer to all of the above - NO.
Here is the truth, and perhaps this might feel liberating; simply counting calories to diet completely ignores the complexity of our human physiology and the fact that our hormones have a big effect on how we burn calories, store calories and ultimately how much body fat we carry.
The good news? You can finally free yourself from your caloric prison!
Here are 6 important concepts that I want you to know that are important for your success:
1 – Your Hormones Matter
Did you ever wonder why you could get away with more food freedom when you were 16 years old versus 36 or 46 years old? Maybe you watch your kids or nieces and nephews eat candy, chocolate, cookies and poutine but still have a 6 pack (and I’m not talking about beer…).
I think we can all agree that what a human eats at age 16 must effect the body differently than at age 46. It just makes sense when you think about it and the answer comes down to your hormones.
Hormones are biochemical messengers. Think of them like metabolic direct messages (or DM's if you're a cool enough to say that) for your body. Our system is SO incredibly complex that we have over 50 different hormones that effect every part of our bodily functions day to day. Knowing how to maximize your hormonal response by manipulating your timing when you eat is VERY important to your overall fat loss success
2 – The type of food you eat and how you train is important.
Burning more calories without doing a thing sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? In a recent study there were two different options of sandwiches and despite the fact that both sandwiches contained the same amount of fat, protein carbs and calories, the study found that the subjects processed the calories differently depending on the composition of the sandwich. The selection of ingredients in the first sandwich, helped boost the amount of energy needed for digestion; meaning that more calories were burned. While both sandwiches contained the exact same amount of calories and macronutrients, the second sandwich (when tracking the metabolic burn) had a 50% reduction in calories burned due to its composition. While the calories and macronutrients were basically the same the body responded differently from a metabolic standpoint proving the point that WHAT you eat matters a lot to your caloric expenditure independent of exercise (the best kind!).
3 – Your gut microbiome matters.
Research shows that the composition of our gut microbiome has a role in regulating our body weight. It is estimated that 60% of the variation in our microbiota is in fact a product of our environment, especially diet and antibiotic usage.
If you don’t have a gut rich in butyrate producers for example, your body may actually be constantly telling you that you’re hungry; making you eat more (potentially unhealthy) foods to satisfy your hunger. Over the long term, this can lead to weight gain, high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
4 - Digestive efficiency
Your ability to produce stomach acid and your gut health is instrumental to your fat loss results. For example, did you know that only 70% of the population can actually digest lactose? You have a unique metabolic figure print and there is great power in learning to understand your digestive efficiency and what food combinations work well for your body.
Have you ever been on a diet and then all of a sudden it just stops working? We blame ourselves , the diet and maybe even our will power BUT the fact is that our bodies change and evolve. Think about it, when/if you are pregnant, while recovering from an injury, during menopause, during times of stress (like a pandemic….. ) our bodies change and so does our digestion. It important to learn, understand and adjust for your unique digestive needs.
5 – How your food is prepared matters.
Our ability to cook as humans led to a quantum leap in the evolution of our brains. Food tastes differently depending on how we prepare and cook it. And yes, it’s important to make food TASTE good every time we eat and YES this is possible with the right approach!
6 – The concept of Energy exchange
Do you look at labels when you are at the grocery store buying food? It’s not as easy as looking at your label to know how many calories you are consuming. It costs calories to digest calories and we expend calories when we eat once we factor in the complex orchestra of digestion. For example, when you consume protein, 20-30% of those calories are used in your digestion process. For example if you eat a 100 calorie can of tuna 20-30 of those calories are used to digest that can. Carbohydrates factor in for 10-15% and select fats 0-5%. This concept is called the thermic effect of food.
While we all reach for the label at the supermarket, it is important to note that this process knowns as the thermic effect of food doesn’t show up on food labels. Almonds are a great example as according to a recent study a 170-calorie portion of almonds results in a 129 calories net caloric intake based on metabolic rate, demonstrating that energy exchange is an important concept to understand when it comes to fat loss.
Knowing what foods you should eat and how you can maximize your energy expenditure is key!
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