So lets jump in and continue on from my last post where I outlined Metabolic health and more precisely Insulin Resistance. Today I will cover: Methods to help you reclaim your metabolic health, and thus reduce your (potential) exposure to Insulin Resistance. I’ll touch on signs of ‘insulin resistance’ and a ‘broken metabolism’ And I’ll finish off on the subject of body measurements, and what I think we should embrace and what is best to avoid, for both the ability to actually measure yourself properly, whilst not driving yourself bonkers on why you’re not achieving your desired weight-goal. Like i said earlier, I’m conscious of keeping this post as succinct as possible, so I have taken the liberty to dot-point as much information as possible. I’ve also literally carried on the conversation straight from my last post, so it could be worthwhile to reread the second-half of that post if you need to. Lastly, I have NOT added links to the research that I reference below, again purely for expediency…if anyone is keen on more information or wants to the links, please do not hesitate to email me. Methods to stop the ‘cycle’ and reclaim your metabolic health..How do we stop the cycle remaining metabolically ‘stuck’ and unable to access our fat-fuel? Follow a few simple principles to access the fat stored and use it for energy and thus improve your overall metabolic health. With any changes that you decide to make, i’d recommend that you make the adjustments incrementally – the outcomes we all desire from betterment change is to realise longterm success. So, as with any new habit, start small and start easy – make the ‘process’ as ‘frictionless as possible’, meaning making it as easy and as repeatable as possible. Track your progress, acknowledge any hurdles and /or changes, and then scale as you proceed. Finally, be patient and realistic. There could be decades of eating and drinking habits that require gentle ‘tweaking’, so don’t expect the results of decades of habits to be turnaround within days, or weeks for that matter. Here’s a 4-step process that may help. 1. Increase protein 2. Fat for fuel 3. Control carbohydrates 4. Time Restricted Eating (TRE) 5. Optimise sleep 6. Reduce stress As I mentioned in my last post, protein is critical…well it is THE building block of muscles, bones, cartilage, skin, and blood. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues and to make enzymes, hormones, and the body chemicals. The reality is these days most individuals are not consuming enough protein, especially the +40 age group. There is growing consensus amongst scientists that older adults need to eat more protein rich-foods when losing body fat, dealing with chronic or acute illness, or facing a hospitalisation. Up to one-third of older adults don’t eat an adequate amount due to reduced appetite, carbohydrate focused diets, financial resources, reliance on processed and fast food/takeaway food, less focus on home cooking, an increase in popularity in ideological diet regimes. This combined with a tendency to consume more alcohol & sedentary lifestyles puts them at a risk of deteriorating amounts of lean muscle mass, diminished bone health, compromised mobility, flexibility, limited proprioception and a slower recovery from bouts of illness…and sadly loss of independence at a relatively young age. The news an elderly relative has broken a hip tends to sound alarm bells, perhaps more than breaking another bone would. That’s because a hip fracture dramatically increases an older person’s risk of death. One in three adults aged 50 and over dies within 12 months of suffering a hip fracture. So how much protein do we need? Honestly, this is still being debated by nutritionist today. The answer? We don’t know. The field of nutrigenomics – how our individual genes uniquely interact with our food – teaches us this varies from person to person. At best we can make an educated guess and start with research from the often-quoted sports nutrition bible, weirdly titled The Complete Guide to Sport Nutrition. It states that the International Olympic Committee Consensus on Sport Nutrition recommends strength and speed athletes consume 1.7g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day. This is considered the optimal amount to help the muscles repair and regrow. But I hear you say “I’m not a strength, speed or power athlete?”….(no, not yet you are, but soooooon grasshopper) Maybe you’re training for a marathon (stop laughing). Maybe you want to lose fat. Or maybe you just want to be generally healthy. Studies show this idea of 1.7g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day is still a good base to start…so before you initiate a nose-to-tail eating regime… here’s (possibly) why. Protein and endurance. Endurance athletes need just as much protein. In research published in The Journal of Applied Physiology it was suggested: ‘We conclude that bodybuilders during habitual training require a daily protein intake only slightly greater than that for sedentary individual in the maintenance of lean body mass and that endurance athletes require daily protein intakes greater than either bodybuilders or sedentary individuals to meet the needs of protein catabolism during exercise. Simply put, endurance athletes need protein to prevent their body breaking down. Train too hard or for too long and the body will enter a catabolic state (bad juju). Your muscles break down, the immune system is badly affected and injuries are more likely to occur. However, get an adequate supple of protein and you’re equipped with the building blocks needed to recover. Research from the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada states: ‘Nutrition is critical determinant of immune responses and malnutrition is the most common cause of immunodeficiency worldwide. (And) protein malnutrition is associated with a significant impairment of immunity. Protein and appetite “It is the protein content that is important is promoting short-term weight loss” – The Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The article continued saying ‘We speculate that it is the protein, and not the carbohydrate, content that is important in promoting short-term weight loss and that this effect is likely due to increases satiety caused by increased dietary protein” Note the word ‘speculate’ before you chow down on kg’s of protein, but know that it does show promise for our expanding waistlines by stopping overeating. And idea supported by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, which states ‘Potential beneficial outcomes associated with protein include increased satiety as protein generally increases satiety to a greater extent that both carbohydrate or fat ‘Adults retained more lean muscle mass and lost more fat mass when consuming higher-protein diets.’ – Nutritional Reviews Protein and immune health The body’s immune system is a complex mofo. It’s a network of biological structures and processes that exist within our bodies to protect us against disease and foreign bacteria. These biological structures range from special cells and proteins to tissues (not toilet paper though) and organs, and each works in harmony with the others to keep us fit and healthy. Satiation Satiation is considered to be the signals or processes that bring a meal to an end. Protein is the most effective macronutrient providing a satiating effect. It is well established that under most conditions, protein is more satiating than the isoenergetic ingestion of carbohydrate or fat. The Thermogenic Effect The thermic effect of food is the energy requires for digestion, absorption, and disposal of ingested nutrients. It’s magnitude depends on the composition of the food consumed: Dietary fat is very easily consumed and has very little thermogenic effect. Carbohydrates: 5 to 15% of energy consumed. Protein: 20 to 25% of energy consumed Protein Sources I’m not here to recommend a particular diet, way of eating or advocating that one-way of eating is better than another…simply do your research and consume protein sources that reflect your dietary, religious, ethical and ideological needs. You need to do the work. Aside from any religious, ideological stand point animal protein is the superior form in terms of both covering the complete amino acid profile and being one of the most incredibly nutrient dense food available…nutrient dense food = satiation. Your diet doesn’t need a name or a belief system, just enough nutrients -Marty Kendall Fat For Fuel One of the great things about fat is that it has no insulin response, and is metabolised much slower than carbs. Helping us feel fuller for longer (that’s why quality raised fatty animal/fish protein is generally regarded superior…I’m not for one minute suggesting going all “Keto-Pete” but i’d recommend adding some seriously high quality to fat to your meals…and before we go all fat-phobic just remember your brain is virtually made of all fat, every cell in your body, last count was 37 trillion requires fat for signalling and transportation throughout the body, hormones require fat…i could go on. Control Carbohydratyes. Seriously, if you’re struggling with brain fog, fluctuating energy levels, constant cravings and snacking etc then I cannot recommend enough to limit your fast-carb intake. Especially by focusing on reducing or eliminating starchy, refined, processed carbs (fast-carbs) that are metabolised /absorbed way too quickly – leaving us feeling under nourished, continually hungry and craving the exact same foods we don’t need. That’s why they’re so delicious and ‘addictive’ because we have a serious physiological hankering for them…and the exact reason I very rarely have them in the house, because I’ll eat the entire loaf of freshly baked sourdough in a day…mmmm toasted cheese sandwiches Cravings sabotage our efforts Focus on quality whole, unprocessed ‘nutrient dense’ carbohydrates, these are absorbed much slower than simple carbs, and have little impact on blood sugar. This will allow insulin to fall and see a return to metabolic flexibility. Especially when you combine quality protein with quality carbs and fat…you’re sorted mate! I’ll provide some more detail on this in next weeks post Time-Restricted Eating (TRE) Window Our bodies, on a daily basis, also require time for insulin levels to recede. So an advisable approach to allowing this to take place would be to limit, or reduce, your eating window, to allow the body to reset over the course of a 12-16 hour period. A time-restricted eating (TRE) protocol has numerous benefits, one of those being to allow the body’s insulin levels to balance. In both animal studies and human trials, time–restricted feeding and eating have elicited beneficial health effects, including: Weight/fat loss Improved insulin sensitivity der! Improved metabolism der! Promotes longevity…now you know my secret Improves mindful eating Reduces caloric intake Improved gut health Improved cognitive functioning …the list goes on. Now, we call ALL tend to eat too much food…period. TRE offers, i believe a really easy, sustainable and scaleable approach to not only improving IR, but our capacity to reduce our caloric intake #winning There’s so many ways to approach this, and one of the great things is that it can be completely bespoke to your work/life routine and lifestyle. A sensible rule of thumb would be an approach called 4:4:12 Wait 4 hours between breakfast and lunch, 4 hours between lunch and dinner and then 12-16 between dinner and breakfast, whilst avoid snacking. As I alluded to before, eating high quality, nutrient dense whole foods is your weapon against snacking, over eating and ultimately controlling your caloric intake…but more of that next week. “Fasting’ over a 14-16 hour period will allow the body to normalise and potentially, after a period of time and *metabolic adjustment, get into a fat-burning zone. This is when insulin is at it’s lowest and the body will use only store fat as an energy source (not blood sugar aka glucose). Reducing our caloric intake, plus, if possible, not eating anything 3 or more hours before we retire in the evening will have a hugely powerful impact on your sleep quality. I can also 99% guarantee, you’ll feel less hungry in the morning – again, something I’ll touch on in future posts. Optimise Sleep This subject will be for another post, as it requires a lot of content – but what I will say is that sleep underpins EVERY metabolic, hormonal, cognitive, cellular physiological response in the body. Without quality sleep we’re always going to the battle with every aspect of our health Reduce Stress As above…literally. Stress doesn’t kill you directly, but it certainly is the underlying instigator for the majority of ‘lifestyle’ related deaths globally. Learn, deliberately practice & repeat methodologies (that work for you) that reduce your stress. Every aspect of your wellbeing will improve because of it. My biggest stress relief tip: ACTIVE MEDITATION Find an activity (preferably one that’s outside) that you love – golfing, swimming, hiking/walking, tennis, gardening…what ever it is…and do it as much as you can. Move, sweat, get outside, get some vitamin D, get amongst nature, feel the ocean, the wind, the ground beneath your feet…and leave the phone at phone. Again, this another topic for another time.
(these symptoms are often misdiagnosed as hypoglycaemia) Righto…Measurements Why am i talking about this? Because I’ve seen so many…too many clients, friends and comrades…(seemingly) smart, intelligent individuals completely and utterly kibosh their ‘weight loss’ efforts because of the pressure they put themselves under when they’re seemingly doing all the right things (you know, eating right, training etc) and yet they still haven’t reached their desired goal (no matter how realistic it is). This form of self-sabotage is the perfect segue to resume all the habits and behaviours that triggered your initial desire for self-betterment. Rule Number 1. It’s FAT LOSS, not weight loss that is the key. Too many diets (nearly all of them) promote regimes that have a detrimental impact on lean muscle mass. That huge initial loss of ‘weight’ that is generally lost when undertaking a new diet is mostly water loss. Hence that ‘plateau’ effect. Rule Number 2. It’s body composition and increased lean muscle mass that you want, not water loss and muscle loss. Simply, muscle mass weights more, but takes up less space. So though the scales won’t reflect the ‘numbers’, your body composition, your ‘look’, will shift…which is what you want. Muscle mass has a higher metabolic rate which is also the key. One of the variables that affect your resting metabolic rate is the amount of lean muscle you have. At any given weight, the more muscle on your body, and the less fat, the higher your metabolic rate. That’s because muscle uses a lot more energy than fat while at rest. PLUS, muscle mass is where all the awesome mitochondria hang out…in short…and again for another post…the more mitochondria you have the longer and healthier you’ll live. More lean muscle = more mitochondria = winning (another reason why resistance training is essential) OK, to finish off…. ‘Measurements’ Body Mass Index: BMI – It’s flawed! I’m still curious as to why this is still being used to measure if someone is under/ overweight or obese as it fails to take in to consideration: Age Sex Race Bone Structure Nor does it take into consideration lean muscle mass, overall body composition. For example my BMI classes me right on the cusp of being very overweight, nearly obese, However I am 6′ / 185cm, with 13-14% body fat, yet I’m considered nearly obese using the out-dated BMI measurement. F.U.B.M.I. Scales “Don’t confuse Weight Loss with Fat Loss Honestly, if you’re not a professional athlete, boxer, MMA fighter, fitness model, Women’s Health Magazine cover model…someone that HAS to ‘clinically’ track their body weight, then I would recommend everyone to throw their scales in the bin…I mean recycle them. Scales, for those who are wanting to “loose weight’ are in my opinion a certifiable one-way-ticket to frustration, potential self-sabotage and obsessive behaviours. Our body weight fluctuates so much from day to day, week to week, that you can potentially (more often than not) kibosh your healthy eating / training regime attempts purely based on what the scales tell you. Especially for women, who’s body weight fluctuates (up to 3kg/6lbs per month) much more than men due to hormonal changes and menstrual cycle. Just keep in mind It’s body fat you want to loose, not ‘weight’ aka mostly water It’s lean muscle mass you want to increase and maintain, not loose…this is the critical stuff, where nearly all diets fail to recognise It’s body composition you want to change, again…not body weight…and this is exactly what scales or the BMI will not tell you. What’s the best measurement? Because it’s our body composition that changes, then we have two, possibly 3, options to record such variations Firstly your clothes…the ‘fitter’ physically you are your clothes will feel light and more roomy aka ‘the jeans test’. Secondly, use a tape measure…tape measure, unlike scales don’t lie…what I mean by lie is that scales provide false readings (fluctuations) which reflect hormonal changes, water levels in the body etc etc. Most men can get away with a circumference measurement around the belly button and man-boobs, and women may also include measuring the hip circumference…that’s it…easy peasy. Waist v Height RatioExperts are now claiming that your Waist/Height Ratio (WHtR) is a far more accurate way of measuring healthy weight than the traditional Body Mass Index (BMI). Not to be confused with your Waist/Hip Ratio (WHR), your WHtR calculates your body fat distribution and can be a significant early indicator of risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The calculation is equally valid for children as it is for adults. OK, that’s it for Part 2 Next week I’m not going to demonise food groups, but I’ll discuss ‘good carbs’ vs ‘bad carbs’ plus ‘good fat vs bad fat’ Circadian discipline