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Ten simple rules for the 'F' word

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The 'F Word' in question is food. If you’ve spent years battling with the scales and jumping onto the latest food fads and diets without success, then it's time to change all that.

But before we get into it, have you considered why there are so many diet books, videos, meal replacement plans and so on if they all work? You would think that everyone would simply stick with the diet that worked, with no real need for any alternatives, right?

Unfortunately, the diet industry often makes money on the confusing and contradictory information about food, so failure is often built into diets, and are seen as something to ‘go onto’ and then ‘come off’ when some suitable transformation has taken place.

Our aim, therefore, is simple – to put a stop to this using evidence-based scientific information that will get you the results you want, forever – without lotions, potions or diets. So, let’s get started with some basic facts…

  • What you eat is 4 times more important for fat loss than exercise.
  • The latest science suggests that low intensity aerobic exercise gives marginal fat loss benefits and can actually make you hungrier.
  • Diet and lifestyle advice from Government agencies isn’t keeping pace with the latest scientific findings, so don’t be alarmed if we contradict them.

The Rules

1. Don’t restrict your calories too much – don’t follow a low calorie diet or worry about counting calories. A big restriction in calories for days on end will reduce your metabolic rate (the thing we want to increase!), which can make it even harder to lose weight. Plus it will make you feel hungry all the time and probably miserable – not a recipe for long term success. This isn't a ticket to pig out though - eat within your daily requirements based on your exercise and general activity levels.

2. Don’t follow a low-fat diet – these have been shown to be ineffective in the long term, plus some fats (e.g. Omega-3) are very healthy. Low fat diets also tend to encourage more use of carbohydrates, which affects insulin secretion – more about this later.

3. Don’t go hungry – hunger is the enemy of good food choices and makes the whole process a miserable experience. Eat enough of the right foods as frequently as you need.

4. Don’t weigh yourself – weight isn’t a reflection of body composition and can therefore be misleading. If you add lean muscle and reduce fat levels your weight may be the same or slightly heavier, even though your shape improved. Book one of our ultrasound body assessments to keep track of your lean and fat weight.

5. Eat fewer refined carbohydrates – they cause disruption to blood-sugar and insulin levels and encourage fat storage. Try to eat as little as possible of sugary and starchy foods such as bread, rice, pasta, noodles and breakfast cereals.

6. Eat more protein – a protein rich diet helps fat loss as it causes less insulin secretion, plus you need more protein to help build muscle (which is more metabolically active than fat). Another bonus is you won’t feel hungry and you burn more calories digesting it. Result!

7. Eat more veg – eat as many vegetables and salad as you like, except for potatoes.

8. Stick to water – stay away from sugary soft drinks (including so-called 'sports drinks') and stick to water, tea or coffee.

9. Slips ups allowed – it’s OK to fall ‘off the wagon’ occasionally. It isn’t succumbing to the odd treat that matters; it’s what you eat most of the time that’s important. Stick to the 80/20 rule - do it right 80% of the time and you'll be fine.

10. Don't rely on willpower - your motivation is usually sky-high when you start out but the usual stresses and strains of life soon erode your good intentions and it's easy to slip back into old habits. The trick is to work on establishing new habits so that they become 'mindless', requiring very little willpower or motivation. 

That’s it! Lots of protein and veg, less carbs (and, if you do, stick to whole grain and/or unprocessed), and you’ll start to have a ‘diet’ that you really can stick to.

As part of our regular F word posts we'll give you the Hiitgirl take on the latest developments in nutrition - from intermittent fasting to paleo and beyond. Until next time...