How many times do you say or have you heard “I didn’t have THAT much to eat or drink?” As a trainer its something I hear all the time and to be honest, something I also know I have said but it’s possibly one of the most common “white lies” clients tell their trainers and its the one thing that stops clients really getting to where they want and seeing real changes to their body. And I speak from experience!!
One of my favourite experts in the field of health and fitness is Charles Poliquin and I love his take on nutrition, exercise and lifestyle generally.
There is so much information out there that confuses the public and trainers alike and most of it is around calories consumed – how many, when, how many meals per day and its always useful to find someone who provides clear advice alongside easy to understand science!
I eat pretty well most of the time and am reasonably good at sticking to my good protein and good carbs diet but like most people I could happily lose a few extra pounds (well 4lb would be nice and whilst another 14lb would be great I’m not convinced I would look better that much thinner!). Anyway, whilst we all strive to be healthier and want to have foods that help us to lose weight, there is just so much out there that confuses; what do we eat? what is good for us? is protein good or bad? why do people think carbs are bad?
It never ceases to amaze me how many people have strange ideas of what constitutes a healthy diet or views on what they should eat to lose weight…..the weirdest one around me at the moment is the idea that putting a sheet of gelatin in a cup of tea will provide all the nutrients needed and will help to lose weight!
Over the years I have heard so many of these from the juice only diet, the 7-in-7 diet, very low-calorie diets and the common factors in very single one is
they didn’t work
people lasted about three days before giving up and then hating themselves for failing
What is about promoted diets that make people believe such drastic or extreme measures will work, that they will stick to them and that ‘this time it will be different’?
Part of the problem, as we all know, are the digitally enhanced images making the before pictures look worse and the after pictures look better. Combined with a sensationalist spin that makes people believe that they don’t need to do ANYTHING ELSE, that this diet is a magic bullet that will fix years of overeating, and people are sucked into wanting to belive it will work, that this time it will be different…. Everyone forgets that they didn’t just put the weight on overnight, it took months or years to gain the weight and it will take at least the same amount of time to lose it.
The diet and media industries have played on people’s insecurities, weakness and self-esteem issues for years and have a vested interest in maintaining the belief that fad diets work – after all its a multi million dollar industry making large corporations huge amounts of profits. The latest news in the UK is that Weight Watchers are to open a chain of high street shops – hmm are they doing that out of some altruistic thought process? I think not.
The thing that intrigues me is the thought processes people go through to convince themselves that the gelatin diet, or the cabbage soup diet etc actually work and how they equate that with what they really know and understand about food, nutrition and what they actually eat. It’s all very well convincing yourself that gelatin is the best thing ever but if you are still consuming vast quantities of processed foods and doing no exercise at all, surely somewhere deep inside there must be a recognition that it can’t possibly work?
Or are diets just a triumph of hope over experience?!
There is so much advice pushed out by the media every day telling us what we should eat, whats bad for us and why our food choices will make us thin or fat! So what is the truth?
If you take every diet plan, piece of government advice or lobby group and try to find a consensus you will be sadly disappointed – everything you read contradicts everything else from government advice telling you that your diet should be based around starchy carbs to the paleo lobby asserting that all grains are bad. To be honest, whatever you WANT to believe you will find someone prepared to promote it as the next best weight loss plan and lets face it will all know an equal number of people who say that Atkins / Dukan / Weight Watchers / Lighter Life is the best thing ever and the worst invention known to man!
It’s all very well learning to live with the lion outside your door but how about we take a leaf out his book (I know I’ve mixed my metaphors!) and learn to eat like one?
Having had my own personal nutrition/weight issues in recent years it was a bit of a light-bulb moment when I realised I was eating, at max, 1200 calories a day (and frequently much fewer) with as little as 40g of protein a day. And this is despite training 4-5 times a week; I was quite obviously not eating enough and definitely not enough protein!
Looking at inspirational books such as Rachel Cosgrove book “The Female Body Breakthrough” or “The New Rules of Lifting for Women – Lift like a Man, Look like a Goddess” by Lou Schuler its quite clear that the consistently recommended amount of protein is around 1g per lb of LBM but that overall the amount of macro nutrients consumed should be the rough proportions of 40/30/30 of carbs/fat/protein respectively.
On that basis most people could seriously up their protein content!
So, if it’s all about too much of everything what is the answer?
If we all have too much information and that itself if part of the problem how do we help people get fit, lose weight, live healthier, happier lives?
People do, generally, have a vague idea of what they need to do to lose weight or get fit. I’m not saying everyone understands it all in great detail; many simply won’t understand all the data or even care how many grams of protein they should eat, whether carbs are good or bad and what constitutes good exercise BUT most people have a sense that they need to eat a bit healthier, eat or drink a bit less, move a bit more etc.
So what stops them doing that? If people know the basics why don’t they do it? If there has never been a better time to find out information from the internet, the media, social networking etc. and it has never been easier to track down healthy foods from the vast number of products in any supermarket why isn’t the population slim, fit and healthy? Why is obesity increasing and why do people find it so hard to stick at any “diet” plan that they start?