We have seen many diets come and go - low fat, high protein, liquid diets, detox diets... Which to choose? Well, to make an informed choice, we need to look at the latest research on how the body utilises and stores energy. Only then can we establish which of these diets work and which are based on pseudo-science and myth.
Have you tried diets only to put the weight back on and then some?
Or do you find no matter what you do, you can't make progress in shifting the pounds?
Have you found that a diet that works for your friend has no effect on you?
Have you got stubborn fat that no amount of dieting seems to shift?
Does exercise not help at all in shifting the fat? In fact it makes you want to head for the nearest burger bar and down a super-size meal?
If you can answer yes to any of these you're probably making the classic mistake. You're working against Mother Nature.
Why Your Body Hates You
To be perfectly honest I didn't know whether to title this article Why Your Body Hates You or Why Your Body Loves You. I went for the former as I think most people feel they're fighting a losing battle against their bodies in terms of staying lean and fighting the urge to eat fattening food.
However, when you think about it, Mother Nature is really doing you a favour by keeping you weak, fat and ravenous in order for you to survive. You see our bodies haven't changed genetically much since our hunter gatherer days. Back then there could be long periods between managing to hunt down antelopes for dinner and, during long cold winters, plant food was scarce. The fact that human beings can store fat easily, use their brains more than their brawn and are set up to binge eat after periods of starvation has led to us being the most successful species on the planet.
Today, the ideal human body is held up to be the opposite of weak and fat. We idolise lean, slim, toned bodies and to be fair, from a health perspective, not chasing down antelope on a regular basis isn't doing much for our health. We all know heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer and depression are on the increase and there's a direct correlation to what we're putting in our mouths and lack of exercise to those conditions.
So what can we do? We're genetically designed to be the opposite of what we want to be. In the past lean physiques wouldn't have lasted long winters and a lot of muscle is a pain to carry around when hunting down a gazelle for dinner.
What you need is an eating and exercise plan that outwits Mother Nature, understanding that you have natural instincts which are perfectly natural and normal. It only takes a bit of understanding and information to work with those instincts to give you the body you've always wanted.
Mistake Number 1
We've all heard the advice to eat less and exercise more. People have been trying diets like this for years now and the track record is pretty abysmal. Yes people lose weight at first, but 98% of the time it all comes back - and then some.
What's the problem? The model is fundamentally broken.
People quote the calories in/calories out theory as a fundamental rule of thermodynamics. Well it is, but it only applies to a limited extent. Your body is not a fixed computer system. In fact it is an incredible complex system that tries to confound your attempts to make it into some sort of human calculator.
You metabolic rate is not fixed. You body plays with this all the time based on things like the ambient temperature and food intake. The energy your body spends on maintenance far dwarfs any amount of energy you could spend exercising (Olympic athletes excepted). Let's say you decide to cut your intake by 200 calories a day. Your body, wanting to keep things as static as possible (called homeostasis) simply lowers your metabolism enough to compensate. So you're tired, cold, and sleepy, but you don't lose any weight.
So you cut your intake by 1000 calories in an effort to give your body no choice but to drop weight. So what does your body do? It starts ditching all that expensive lean mass - muscles, organs, etc. Guess what? You're still fat, but now you're weak and sickly as well.
In fact, a calorie restricted diet is bt definition not sustainable. If you could truly eat less calories than you were burning for the rest of your life you would starve to death. That's why these diets always fail. You have to stop them sooner or later.
So how is it even possible to cause permanent weight loss and body re-composition? The answer is to gain control of your hormones.
Why are you squishy around the middle? Your hormones are screwed up. They are telling your body's tissues to store fat. Why do you feel lethargic all the time? It's not because you eat too much. It's because you eat too little. Your body is down-regulating your metabolism in order to save energy for fat production. That's what the hormones are telling it to do.
For the vast majority of people this hormone situation is completely under their control. The most important hormone is controlled by what we eat. Insulin, which you've probably heard of, is the storage hormone. It tells your body's cells to store energy.
Now we're not saying that insulin is bad at all. It's vital to life. Type I diabetics can't produce enough insulin so they must take insulin shots to stay healthy. Without insulin your cells would starve to death.
But if you always have high insulin levels then your body is always in storage mode. Energy is going into storage, but is never coming out. At a certain point your muscle tissue and your liver are full. The only tissue that can keep storing energy basically without limit is fat. So when you eat with chronically high insulin levels, energy going into your fat stores never comes out. You get hungry even though you've literally got "months" of energy stored on your body. The fat can't release the energy it has stored until the insulin level goes down. So your blood sugar crashes, you get ravenously hungry, you eat more, and the cycle repeats itself.
Mistake Number 2
So conventional advice says you should eat many small meals throughout the day so you don't get hungry, and that those meals should be mainly 'healthy' low-fat carbohydrate sources. I hope you see how insane this is. You're trying to lose weight and yet you're constantly feeding yourself.
"But I get ravenously hungry a couple of hours after my meal!" I hear you shout. Actually, no. Most of us in the western world have no idea what true hunger is. If you're hungry quickly after a meal it is the effect of high insulin levels and the crash in blood sugars that occur shortly afterwards.
You're not a herbivore who grazes all day. I know this makes animal-lovers uncomfortable, but man is a top-of-the-food-chain predator. We hunted; we killed; we feasted. We're lions not cows.
Mistake Number 3
So then we turn to exercise. Many people start an exercise routine such as running, swimming or other forms of cardio to lose weight. That's great for your heart health but to be perfectly honest has an absolutely dismal record when it comes to weight loss. Yes I know that sounds odd coming from someone who has made a career in the fitness industry, but looking at the evidence, it's a fact.
Most people starting an exercise programme don't realise that these long steady cardio session in the 'fat-burning zone' have actually been proven to increase appetite. So you build up your time pounding the pavements and wonder why you manage to eat your way through a full packet of biscuits in ten minutes flat on your return.
So why bother with exercise I hear you cry? Well although these forms of exercise have been proven to be useless for fat loss, the right form of exercise coupled with the correct eating plan have been shown to have outstanding results. You've just got to do the right exercise with the right eating plan - by now you know that's controlling your hormones - and you're away.
So what type of exercise? We want exercise that creates the most calorie burn, not just during the session, but afterwards. No long, slow, boring cardio.
For most people cutting the time and increasing the challenge is far more effective. Yes I'll repeat that - less is more. Challenging, ten minute workouts are easy to fit into the day and will keep your body utilising those fat stores long after you've finished working out.
So to summarise:
Your body is ensuring your survival by keeping you lazy and over eating
Human instinct is extremely powerful and you shouldn't even bother trying to overpower it
There are easy ways to work with your instincts to change your body for good
Forget calorie counting and portion control - your body will lower your metabolism straight away to combat it.
Control your fat storage/ fat burning hormones and you lose weight easily without feeling ravenous.
Ditch the long, boring hours on the treadmill. Less is more - increase the exercise challenge and decrease the time. Oh and you'll find you're not bored to death as well.
The EQ Plan includes a natural 14 day weight loss programme. Each day, members receive a ten minute workout video and eating plan. For further information, go to http://theeqplan.com
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