I know conventional diets and even doctors will lead you to believe that weight loss is all about burning more calories than you eat and you’ll lose weight – hey presto! If it was this easy we’d all be a healthy weight and the diet companies would go out of business. But 95% of diets FAIL and 66% of people end up fatter than pre-diet within 2 years.
There isn’t just one reason diet’s don’t work. I’m not going to talk here about willpower or choosing the right diet for you or the impact of genetics and psychology as today I’m diving into why just thinking about calories in and out doesn’t work.
Why do people focus on calories?
There are so many reasons people do focus on calories. Partly as there is some truth to it; because of focus on some pretty dated research; because dieting is big business and as many people, even the ‘experts’, don’t know any better (ask any doctor how long during his 5 years studying he spent studying nutrition or exercise, the vast majority will probably say one lecture. The sad truth is there is little focus on disease prevention just on disease cure).
So why doesn’t cutting just calories work?
At a simplistic level it is correct that we do need to burn more calories than we eat to lose weight but that picture is more complicated than that. If we lose weight by eating less food and exercising more our bodies compensate for this and make it harder to lose weight. This method means relying on willpower and willpower is difficult stuff! I’ll talk more about this in the weeks to come. In addition, when using the traditional method of dieting, your body doesn’t discriminate between losing fat and muscle.
This is important for three main reasons:
– Pound for pound fat takes up more space than muscle so if you weigh the same but lose fat over muscle your body will look smaller so you have to lose less pounds to look good! Take a look here.
– Your metabolism will improve muscle improves metabolism so you really don’t want to be losing it! If you lose too much muscle you will find it harder and harder to lose weight
– Your shape will change If you lose muscle although your overall weight might reduce you will just look like a smaller version of yourself, however if you focus on losing fat you can actually work to improve your body shape.
What is the answer?
The key to sustainable fat loss is to ensure your hormones are balanced. When our hormones are balanced they actually help focus our bodies on prioritising burning fat rather than muscle and also make us rely far less on willpower so we’re more likely to succeed in moving to a healthy lifestyle rather than a diet. Don’t worry though you don’t all need to run off to the doctors and start getting complicated hormone tests! Luckily our bodies are pretty clever and have biofeedback tools that allows us to know if our hormones are working for us or against us.
Metabolic Effect talks about the most useful tools being Hunger, Energy and Cravings or (HEC). When these are balanced it means that our metabolism is working for us not against us. If you eat too little or exercise too much you’ll find your HEC will swing out of balance. That will mean that your metabolism isn’t working for you and that you need to rely on willpower if you want to lose weight. The best way to keep HEC balanced is to eat well and focus on intense exercise such as weights or interval training or low intensity such as walking rather than lots of cardio.
How do I actually do this?
5 steps to getting HEC in balance:
- At the beginning of the week in the morning weigh yourself and take your measurements (hip, waist and chest at a minimum).
- During the week monitor your Hunger, Energy and Cravings throughout each day on a scale of 1-10 and write down the results.
- At the end of a week repeat your measurements and check if you have made any progress
- Review your HEC scores. You want Hunger and Craving scores to mainly be below 5 and your energy to be mainly above 5.
- Interpret your results:
Action to take
|Weight and/or measurements have reduced (even a little)||HEC is pretty balanced across the week||Keep doing what you’re doing! Don’t be tempted to try and accelerate results.|
|Weight and/or measurements have reduced (even a little)||HEC is unbalanced||You’re relying on willpower and this isn’t sustainable. Try increasing water, vegetables and maybe protein. If cravings are the problem check out my craving busting tips.|
|Weight and/or measurements haven’t reduced||HEC is balanced||First try reducing your carbohydrate intake a little if you’re having 10 bites per meal try 5-7 bites. Also, try keeping a food diary for a week to make sure you’re not eating more treats than you think.|
|Weight and/or measurements haven’t reduced||HEC is unbalanced||As tempting as it might be to focus on fat loss first focus on getting your HEC balanced. Try increasing water, vegetables and maybe protein. If cravings are the problem check out my craving busting tips.|
You may have tried diets before that didn’t work but today is a new day so why not go after your goals? Let me know how you get on!