Body Fat Battle…Part 2
Part 1 of this blog covered the basics of body fat loss. The reason I am writing about this is because the most common question I get is ‘how can I lose weight?’.
As explained in part one…this is a highly individual process, however there are some steps that will help EVERYONE.
So what are the first practical steps you can take to lose body fat? What are the most important things you can do? I will break this down into a few areas that apply to ANYONE in this blog. No matter your history of eating or training these will help.
Any of the members here at LiftOff will be sick of hearing about this from me! Sleep is so so important. Our bodies are running of what is called circadian rhythm which is dictated by the rise and fall of the sun. At night we should have high melatonin, low cortisol, in the morning high cortisol and low melatonin.
Melatonin is the hormone released mainly in the gut (more on gut health later) at night to help us rest and digest. Cortisol is the hormone that is released in times of stress and without it we would not be able to respond to crisis or emergency effectively, it is our fight or flight hormone. It will naturally be higher in the morning.
If we are staying up late, not sleeping when we are designed too (when its dark) our hormonal function becomes altered and hormones play a massive role in fat storage. It also affects gut health as well. Slowly developing a vicious circle whereby we don’t sleep well, leading to poor food choices and increased body fat storage, which further leads to poor gut health, poor sleep habits. It is very hard to break this cycle, but break it you must!
In essence, poor sleep equals poor ability to actually function as we were designed too.
Lack of sleep also seriously alters our hunger and cravings during the day. If you have ever done a night shift, or just slept really badly then you will know that almost uncontrollable urge for sugar! Studies have shown that this a real thing. If you sleep poorly then you will struggle to control those cravings and this will lead to overeating on often poor quality, high sugar food. No-one needs me to explain how this can lead to poor health long term hopefully.
So…get your sleep in order. Not just for body composition but also for long term health, reducing the effect of ageing, performance in the gym and sex drive…sleep needs to be a priority in your life! It is the very first thing I address with anyone looking to improve any of the above.
Junk Food and Drink
Easy. If it is processed, high in sugar, not in its natural form or made of empty calories then its not going to do you much good!
In terms of body composition and losing fat then you need to be thinking about the quality of your calories. A can of coke for example will be high in sugar and is no different to eating a chocolate bar, yet many people knock them back like they are bottles of water! The same goes for confectionary, ice cream etc. Most of it is high in sugar and will immediately spike your blood sugar levels, long term this is leading to insulin resistance and fat deposits. It also develops a nasty cycle of a sugar high, followed by a crash in energy, followed by another sugar high when you snack on more sugar. Long term, apart from getting people fat, this is a recipe for diabetes.
Most alcoholic drinks will have a similar effect, high in calories that are not used by the body for much use.
Cutting out junk food and drinks. This will be a quick and easy step for anyone looking to lose body fat and improve health.
Food Hygiene and Digestion
Food hygiene refers to our habits around food preparation and eating. Humans are designed to digest food, and this starts way before it gets to your stomach. As you cook food your saliva glands in the mouth begin to activate and this in turn prepares the stomach for what its about to receive. As we chew our food, this process is continued. We need to chew our food thoroughly to aid its digestion in the stomach (aim for 20-30 chews…very tricky!).
If we constantly eat pre cooked food, and fail to chew it properly, we will not be extracting all of the nutrients that are contained within it. If we are constantly stressed and in fight or flight states then we will not be able to digest food properly – take your stress seriously.
A healthy gut is essential to digestion and also immune function (if you are sick you can’t train or work). The gut is quickly becoming recognised as the second brain by scientists, it has nerves which run directly to the brain and as mentioned earlier, the hormone melatonin is released in the gut. If you are struggling to sleep at night, and struggling to wake in the morning look at your gut health aswell as sleeping habits.
Gut health is a deep deep rabbit hole, one that is not completely understood by us. However some good principles are:
– Eat lots of greens/veggies and a variety of foods. Eating the same thing all the time will lead to intolerances potentially.
– Invest in a good probiotic, you may have to try a few to find what works for you.
– Invest in time to actively de stress and let your gut do its job. A stressed gut will not digest food and stress in general will lower immune function.
Some of you will have read the above and be disappointed I have not mentioned calories, macros, meal plans and nutrient timing. Frustrating and boring as it is, all of the above is the billy basics. If you do not have these in place then quite simply, I do not believe you will get the full benefit of focusing on classic nutritional interventions.
Get the basics right and earn the right to do the sexy stuff, just like in the gym.
- LiftOff CrossFit is a gym in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire based around group classes. Tom is head coach and co owner. If you are interested in learning more, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org