Clearing Up a Few Things - 17/9/2013
Every time I start training a new client I try my hardest to separate fact from fiction, but it’s clear to me that there are a few ‘myths’ which seem to pop up a lot more frequently than anything else.
1. Fat makes you fat!
Okay, fat can make you fat if you’re eating loads of it, simply because you will be in a calorie surplus (eating more calories than you burn); that’s proven science. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, as opposed to protein and carbohydrates containing 4. But fat is essential to good health, brain function and an optimal hormone balance, so just don’t go crazy and eat a whole bag of nuts at a time.
What does contribute heavily to putting on adipose tissue (body fat which is very different to dietary fat, which most people don’t seem to realise) are high glycemic index (GI) refined carbohydrates, instantly recognised to the body as sugar. When you eat these ‘sugar bombs’ your blood sugars go sky high, then your insulin kicks in to bring your blood sugars down. The simplest way for your body to bring your blood sugars down is to store the excess sugar (unused energy) as fat.
In short, keep a much closer eye on the refined carbs (white bread, white pasta, white rice, and obviously, sugar) that you are eating, rather than the fat being consumed. Mono-unsaturated, poly-unsaturated and saturated fats are all essential to optimal health.
Saturated fat is bad
Like with calories, don’t go crazy with it! But in moderation, saturated fat is essential. One thing to mention though, when consuming saturated fat, make sure it comes from a good quality source.
Picture this: Battery meat brought up on a diet of toxins and antibiotics. Guess where the toxins get stored... Yep! In their fat. They eat it, so you eat it.
Now picture: Good quality organic produce, free of antibiotics and toxins. Think how much better that fat is going to be for you.
Basically, anything ‘bad’ is stored as fat, the body’s easiest way to get rid of it. So if you are eating bad quality, discount meat, then yes, the fat content will be bad. My advice, anything with a high fat content must be organic.
Hydrogenated vegetable oil/ Trans fat
This is bad! Man-made fat. Hydrogenated vegetable oil is vegetable oil (as you might of guessed) with mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats pumped full of hydrogen to turn it into a solid, saturated fat. Low-fat spreads, ready meals, cakes, chocolate biscuits etc. Vegetable oil should be liquid, so if what you are eating is solid and contains vegetable oil then it’s hydrogenated. Check the labels! Hydrogenated vegetable oil is man-made and not recognised to the body, sooo... It gets stored as adipose tissue (body fat!). Artery clogging, heart problem-inducing trans fats. Steer well clear!!!
2. Doing sit-ups gives you a flat stomach
Wrong!... Okay, if you already have really low body fat and you are super lean, doing sit-ups will make your abs more visible, but through muscle growth, not from burning stomach fat. That said, everything in moderation! I see people doing hundreds (literally hundreds) of sit-ups in a bid to get a flat stomach, that isn’t going work. What will happen is your hip flexors will adaptively shorten through being overworked, pull on your lumbar spine, which is where they connect to from the top of your legs and pull it into an over-exaggerated curve and out of optimal alignment and into an anterior tilt. Basically your lumbar spine will be more curved than it should be; this can result in a whole host of problems including lower back pain.
Working one body part doesn’t burn body fat from that particular area, you can make muscles bigger by working one area but you can’t drop body fat in that way.
The way to get a flat stomach is:
First and foremost. I’m not going to go into detail here but without this you have... nothing! You can’t out train an unhealthy diet. This is the foundation, and exercise will act as a catalyst and speed everything along nicely.
Not loads of sit-ups! Resistance training: challenging weights, full body circuits designed to work all of your muscles. The more muscle you have the faster your metabolism; the faster your metabolism the more calories you burn on a daily basis. Not to mention the calories exerted during these not-so-easy exercise protocols.
High intensity, anaerobic, cardio bouts. Working in intervals to create an E.P.O.C. (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption/an after burn) that, if worked hard enough will have you burning more calories than you normally would for up to 36 hours after you’ve finished in the gym. Nice!
Another thing to mention... Whenever I tell women that we are going to stimulate muscle they automatically assume I’m going to turn them into some ‘meat head, body builder.' This won’t happen. Unless you’re a genetical freak, you won’t put on excessive amounts of muscle; you’re not designed to. A full body muscle gain as little as 1 pound over the entire body (unnoticeable) will have you burning up to an additional 50 calories per day, even while you sleep!
Okay. So the steps to a slimmer, healthier you:
Train 3x a week using full body circuits and anaerobic cardio bouts.
Limit your starchy carb intake to post-training only, making sure they are healthy, gluten-free sources (quinoa and buckwheat are best). Perfect the rest of your diet.
Get at least 7 hours sleep a night minimum. This gives your muscles time to grow and repair, speeds up metabolism and keeps your hormones in check, which also affects basal metabolic rate, mood, energy levels and everything in between.