Sunday, April 7, 2019 / Singapore

Slow down to speed up fat loss

Weight loss myths

1: Eat less and exercise more - Oh really I didn't realise it was that simple.
2: It takes will power to lose weight - No, it takes an adjustment in habits. 'Discipline' by its own right is a myth.
3: As long as you count your calories, you'll lose weight - There could be inaccuracies of up to 50%, depending on where you get the information and several other factors that effect the quality (and calories) of a food.
4: Getting an online diet plan will do the trick - It may do for short period of time, but it's more likely to be a generic template, that doesn't factor in your daily lifestyle habits and food likes/dislikes.

That's not to say that these don't work to some degree and for some, but not others.  I just want to illustrate that these are not what you need to do.  I personally don't recommend counting calories for the majority of my clients (unless they have a very specific fat loss goal, in a relatively short period of time).  I want my clients to understand more about food, so that they can make better choices.  Become more physically aware (including recognising hunger cues) and finally, create positive habits or habit adjustments, to make their fat loss goal more rewarding, controlled, sustainable and without it having to be a miserable process.

Holistic approach

I'm not going as far as speaking to your food, to show appreciation (yes that's out there, and there is some science behind it, but pretty flimsy).  I'm not suggesting weird rituals either, I'm talking more about looking at another approach, that gets slightly neglected when busy guys are striving for weight loss success.

Does stress effect weight loss?

YES! The modern daily grind is tough for men let's face it.  We've got a lot going on, compared to our hunter-gatherer ancestors, from thousands of years ago.   Stress has a massive impact not just on our mental (and emotional) state, but also on our physical state, which goes on to impact fat loss.


Your nervous system

To understand how stress has an effect on your metabolism, it's important that you know about the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).   The ANS is subdivided into the your parasympathetic (AKA rest and digest) and the sympathetic (AKA fight or flight) branches.  Think of them as on and off switches.  The PNS turns digestion on and turns the stress off, whilst the SNS turns digestion off, but stress response on.

Lets have a look at some the effects stress has on your body's metabolism*:

  • Decreases Nutrient absorption and deficiencies due to decreased blood flow
  • Increased nutrient excretion - calcium magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium and other micronutrients
  • Increased blood cholesterol - The more damaging LDL (low density lipoprotein)
  • Increased blood platelet aggregation - Major risk factor in heart disease
  • Increased levels of cortisol - 'The' stress hormone, associated with abdominal fat storage,  has a catabolising (breaking down) effect on muscle mass and increases ageing.
  • Decreased 'good' gut bacteria - Effecting the immune system, digestion of foods, skin complexion and a variety of digestive disorders
  • Decreased growth hormone - Effects the building and repair of muscle (which will effect training, which obviously helps burn body fat)
  • Increased constipation
  • Increased food sensitivities and allergies - most likely due to a decrease in healthy gut bacteria
  • Decrease in bone density
  • Increase in inflammation - Effecting the brain and heart

How can I decrease the side effects of stress?

Chill out, and here's some easy-peasy ways you can start doing that:
  1. Slow down when you eat. Eat at the same pace of the slowest eater at the table.  Even putting down knife and fork when you taken a mouth full.
  2. Sit up to the table 
  3. Stop eating standing up
  4. If you're at work, get outside or sit in your car
  5. Stopping eating on the go, literally.
  6. Make time to eat and make it a priority in your diary
  7. Eat with friends and family (just watch your portion sizes!)
  8. Eat to 80% full.  If you're having to undo your belt buckle, you've eaten to much
  9. Stop watching the television whilst eating (especially sports, news, dramas and X-factor, as they can create a stress response ((X-factor will just melt your brain anyway))
  10. Pay attention to your food.  Savour the smells, the look, the taste and what it's taken for it actually get to your plate.
A little bit out of the box, but hopefully you can see the bigger picture now.  If you're in a stressed state, it effectively closes down your digestive capabilities and sends your cortisol levels up, developing a host of side effects and mostly importantly, increases abdominal fat storage. 

Keep it real guys


*It's worth knowing that your digestive system is made of smooth muscle.  Muscles of any kind need nutrient flow and oxygen.  When your PNS takes over, there is a decrease of blood flow to the digestive system, as the muscle walls vasoconstrict (become narrower), to allow you to get 'out of danger'-whatever that stress response may be (even mental stress has the same effect).

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