If you're not assessing, you're guessing
2 friends meet for some breakfast at a local cafe.
The cafe proudly advertises the range of options for the health conscious, from avocado on toast to smoked salmon & egg + some salad.
The usual banter and chat has already begun among the friends, and it's soon time to order.
Not knowing what to have, one of the friends asks the outgoing waiter what are the best healthy options.
It's decided, the curious friend knows just the choice .... Acai, frozen blueberries, greek yogurt, banana, peanut butter, desiccated coconut, cacao nibs, linseed, flaxseed & chia seeds. The waiter applauds the wise choice, promising not to be disappointed by the wonderful taste, and turns to the other friend.
This friend has no such difficulty making a choice ..... bacon, egg, pork sausages, tomato, spinach, mushrooms & olive oil. Done!
The attempt to a muffle gasp from the 'health' conscious friend doesn't go unnoticed, to which a discussion about nutrition and weight loss ensues.
SO, WHO'S CORRECT? WHICH WILL LEAD TO WEIGHT LOSS? WHICH WILL LEAD TO OVERALL HEALTH IMPROVEMENTS?
Without doubt, the 'Good' breakfast is brimming with fantastic ingredients.
Healthy fats, anti-oxidants, immune boosting powders, alkaline & even meat free if that is food strategy of yours.
It contains a fine balance of carbs, fats and some protein (although not a huge amount).
What's wrong with the so called 'Bad' breakfast?
We could argue that the processed meat is not a choice of the health conscious. For example, Bacon and sausages contain nitrates, with extremely strong links to cancer. so much so, the World Health Organisation has them right up there on the substances NOT to consume (right alongside inhaling asbestos btw). Similarly, processed meat like this offers very low quality protein (limited amino acid profile, not amount), not to mention the added salt.
THIS DOESN'T TELL THE WHILE STORY THOUGH!
Like for like, If weight loss (not necessarily health) was the goal here. The so called 'Bad' breakfast would woop the 'Good' breakfast's butt.
Hazard a guess as to the total calories in each.
Seriously, look at the picture above and just take a wild guess.
Look at this, however.....
So, upon gasping at the ordering of the 'fry up', our supposed health irresponsible friend retorts back at the actual calories, some 60% less than the 'Good' breakfast.
The 'Bad' breakfast friend reports back that they are on a 1500 calorie per day goal, and this is one of 3-4 other meals to eat that day to reach the goal.
Whilst there are many lifestyle factors which can affect digestion and metabolism of food, such as someone's stress level, lack of sleep, stomach microbiom health & more ..... the science is unequivocal ...... if we want weight loss, we must be in a negative calorie balance ..... if we want weight gain, we must be in a positive energy balance. Hundreds of thousands of studies across decades prove this over and over again.
For sure, the balance of our protein, carbs & fats (macro-nutrients) will also play a weight loss & muscle preservation role, BUT, determining your calorie balance is the vital and first step.
In studies of the blue zones around the world (parts of the world with the most centenarians, 100yrs+), calorie restriction is the most dominant factor and similarity between these zones.
Shock for you ....... weight loss can be achieved on any dietary approach ...... low carb, high carb, low fat, high fat, the egg diet, the celery diet, the Atkins diet, the raw food diet.... (you get my drift).
By removing food groups, you are simply reducing total calories. All of the macro-nutrients (proteins, fats & carbs) play a vital role in our overall performance and health, + by restricting a food group, it is often unsustainable in the long term, we crave rather than enjoy, it can cause our metabolism to fall through the floor meaning that when we do re-introduce the food group, our ability to burn that food is far slower, hence the subsequent weight gain beyond when we started out.
Where weight loss is concerned, discussing whether white wine vinegar is the golden ingredient we're missing, or if you think banana's make us fat, these discussions are irrelevant if our total calories in to our bodies exceed our total calories out.
Aside from the thousands of studies, I see time and time again, in over 20 years in the industry, it's when people educate themselves on the calories & macro's that go in to their bodies, that they make better & MORE ENJOYABLE CHOICES resulting in weight loss.
"If we aren't assessing what goes in our bodies, we are simply guessing"
However you calculate your calories from food, Apps like My Fitness Pal, following a pre-set plan (eg weightwatchers), a book containing calories, ... this can seem a little off putting initially due to the time needed to work it out, But, we are often creatures of habit, so once our meals are worked out, its often a case of 'copy & paste'. Easy after 2 weeks.
Plus, as long as we are tracking, we can plan in and include foods that we love ...... the beer, the cheesecake, the Cornish pasty (Ha). You might not get away with much of this, but a little, is a better and more sustainable solution than craving and cutting out, to then binge once your temporary diet is over.
It gives us control, it gives us rules, it gives us a sense of empowerment to manipulate how we want to look and feel.
NOT SURE HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR PERSONAL REQUIREMENT?
Here is a great and easy website to use, https://tdeecalculator.net/
Simply input your details (weight, height, sex etc) & it will calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) for you.
If will even show you the calories suggested to lose weight versus your specific TDEE (usually around 200-500 cals deficit).
So, for all of you Duelers our there who, despite all of the exercise, are still not losing the weight you require, look at your energy balance and take your physical and mental journey to a more successful level.
Just so you know, the friend who ordered the 'Healthy' breakfast, applauded the friend who ordered the 'fry up' & similarly told the story of their 1500 calorie goal & told of the 2 small meals later in the day they will eat to get to the same target.
Turns out both were correct (when it comes to weight management)
Disclaimer - more interesting topics were discussed in this fictional get together, ha :) :)
Pictures - courtesy of #fitnesschef