I love a health and fitness magazine. I love how predictable they become after a while and how the same bad food science gets peddled out time after time “eating curry beats cancer!” (By which they mean a component of turmeric contains a compound that has been shown to fight cancer in rats. If you would like to replicate this you would need to eat a few kilos of turmeric every day. Show me that curry) and the like.
One thing we are going to see a lot of in fitness magazines as we head into January are articles about the ‘Secrets to Fat Loss’. The secret is of course, there is no secret. I was a good 6 stone over weight and learnt this over the three years it took me to shift it. Eat healthier food, cut out the junk food, move more. That is not a secret – it is an unpalatable (and un-marketable) truth. It isn’t going to sell many magazines. As I have got closer to goal weight I am finding it harder to shift the last few unwanted pounds of fat. Eat less, move more is going to become a little more complex.
Ultra-fit is a cut above most of the fitness magazines. Its articles are more in depth and the advice is actually usable. There was an article last month on ‘7 ways to fight fat’. I am hoping to find some inspiration in there.
1.Eat every 3 hours. This is one I have read a lot. The idea seems to be that if you plan healthy snacks through your day you will not reach for the cheap empty carbs when you get hungry. You are also likely to eat more at meals if you keep topped up. The article also suggests eating protein with each snack. This is something I struggle with.
Goal: Plan snacks as I would any other meal. Add nuts, roasted chickpeas and hummus.
2.Choose good fats. As a vegan this isn’t too difficult. I use a little fat for roasting, usually olive oil or canola. I do need to look at my sources of omega 3. Especially EPA.
Goal: Look into omega 3 from algae.
3. Look after your liver. Well, I don’t drink alcohol and I don’t eat much in the way of processed food. I would like to know more about caring for my internal organs and their role in managing weight loss.
Goal: Research the role of the liver in weight loss/fat burning.
4. Use high intensity exercise. When I started trying to lose weight the long slow run was the bedrock of my exercise. From doing no exercise at all to running for an hour at a time really shifted the pounds. Now though it just isn’t enough. My body has adapted. High intensity training helps to keep your metabolism working harder for longer. I have found that boxercise is working for me at the moment
Goal: More speedwork on runs, use the spin bike and rower.
5. Use fasting. When you train on an empty stomach your muscles have to burn fat. Heading out for a fast run before breakfast is a recipe for bad form and injury but a brisk walk as the sun comes up sets your body up for the day.
Goal: Get my body use to burning fat not glycogen on work outs.
6. Restrict caffeine. This one confuses me. Her advice is to restrict caffeine as it releases glycogen from the liver to prepare the body for fight or flight. When you don’t use this glycogen it gets stored as fat. What I don’t understand is why this matters. The calories are in the body. Excess calories will be stored as fat anyway.
Goal: Look into the science behind caffeine and fat loss.
7. Get leaner. This is the big one for me at the moment. I don’t just need to lose fat. I need to build muscle. Muscle is denser that fat and so packs more weight into a smaller space. You may weigh the same but your shape will change.You will also be more functionally fit.
Goal: Use body-weight exercises to get lean.
There we go. My own personal guide to fat loss. Personal to me that is. What advice would you have for someone trying to lose those last few pounds?