This might sound like a rant and for that I apologise, however I will proceed to make my point. It’s a valid one and something I strongly detest. The fitness industry and food industry is rife with products, programs and even statements which claim that they either ...
. Work miracles
. Require less commitment
You get the idea, they hold a similar sentiment. Each of these points appeal to the lazy child within you who wants to do as little as possible to look like a super hero.
How do you think the supplement industry became, and still stands, as a multi-billion pound industry? And I say that being fully aware that I myself support that industry, because indeed there are products which work and are useful. However, if you look at many of the top sellers they will appeal to the same part of your brain as the points I outlined above do.
"Everything in moderation" is a rather weak and unintelligent statement if you ask me because the fact is it just isn’t an accurate assessment of an appropriate dietary choice for a lot of the population.
Not ‘’some’’ of the population; a lot. In my opinion, telling someone who is 30% body fat, in their 40s and highly stressed that a few slices of pizza a week is fine, provided they are in a calorie deficit is about as credible as telling that same person the best way to melt their fat away is to not eat for 2 days per week.
You will notice coaches who (and I don’t mean to jab at anyway here - it isn’t my style) preach this sort of flexibility are what I would describe as metabolically efficient. They control their calories and the job is done. Even I, to some extent, can work within such realms these days.
The issue is when someone is used to running on s*** food and has done for years AND their actual calorie intake isn’t that high their metabolic rate is closer to that of a tortoise rather than a hare. This leaves us with a problem because dropping calories isn’t going to be healthy from here, they are already low. People who say everyone who isn’t lean 'over eats' in my opinion are wrong – you can tell me about a study which shows people under estimate what they eat (and I wouldn’t disagree with that study) but the fact is I have spent all day and night with many clients like this. Unless they were getting a quick sugar fix in the toilets or raiding the fridge at 4am I’m pretty sure on this one. How so, after all thermodynamics state you can’t gain weight in a calorie deficit?
Even though your online calculator might suggest you are within your calorie limits I would hypothesise that by eating low quality calories for a number of years, in relatively low amounts your body has learned to run on less fuel. As a result the metabolism has slowed down and more than that we now have hormonal issues – lower testosterone, more estrogen and more insulin resistance. A recipe for fat gain.
So even if this person is only eating 1,400 calories they might actually be in a surplus even though it should equate to being in a deficit. Make sense?
This is something I have pondered for some time having seen many people with similar symptoms – s*** food quality, relatively low appetite, some binges, alcohol and a high body fat. To compound the issues I would suggest a lot of these people also have gut issues (of differing levels).
So back to my rant (I mean article!!), stipulating that these people can simply eat X amount of calories across set macro (protein, fat, carbs) targets seems a little daft to me. There is damage to be undone here and letting these people exist on a diet which withholds the ethos of 'everything in moderation' is utter nonsense. There are certain foods, mainly processed junk which are sugar rich which will not be ideal. They don’t add to gut health or hormonal output.
In this instance I am interested in gradually increasing food intake to slowly raise the metabolism without causing fat gain. I’m also focussed on improving hormonal health which will mean addressing insulin resistance, testosterone and estrogen levels. Something a higher fat diet will help with, along with protein and a controlled carb intake (not necessarily low/zero).
ONCE we have got through these issues which can be fixed in a matter of weeks or sometimes months, then we can have a little more flexibility. This is quite the opposite to what I see a lot of people promote – it doesn’t make sense to start off with ‘’moderation’’ and then gradually cut things out. That’s back to front, surely?
So, tell me what you think, I honestly want to know your thoughts...