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How to lose weight.

I seem to be repeating myself over and over again at the moment. People are coming to me asking what is the best exercise to do to lose weight…..well, the truth is, exercise will help burn off some calories but if you are serious about shedding some pounds then you have to take a look at what you are eating. It’s ALL ABOUT THE FOOD!!

I don’t want to get too scientific, so will keep it simple…..to lose weight and keep it off you should be trying to stabilise your body’s insulin levels. Insulins job is to remove sugar (glucose) and other nutrients from the blood and into the body’s cells to be used for energy or stored for later use (as fat) Basically it tells your body to store fat. So it stands to reason that the more insulin we produce, the fatter we get.

What causes your body to secrete insulin……well, the major driver for insulin secretion is carbohydrates. Sugar is a carbohydrate, so is starch. If you were to adopt a low-fat, high-carb diet, (like so many magazines, TV shows and ‘experts’ are still telling us to) even if you were to induce a calorie deficit, you’re at the same time basing your diet on foods that actually stimulate the deposition of fat in your fat cells. This might make fat loss painfully slow or may cause it to stall altogether. Not what you are after, I’m sure.

So, what to do? Well, obviously going for a low- carb diet is going to be the best answer. This will avoid spikes in blood sugar. But what about fat and protein? Surely they matter too? Protein is generally better at satisfying the appetite and will keep you feeling full for longer. This means that a protein rich diet can help people to naturally eat less, crucially, without hunger. Many people are of the mind that carb-rich foods are filling and satisfying, pasta and bread, for example. However, how satisfied we feel immediately after a meal is not as important as how we feel a few hours later. It’s the food’s ability to sate the appetite over extended periods of time that counts. In this regard, many studies have shown that carbohydrates are less satisfying than protein.

One reason for this is that, after eating carbs, the sharp rise in blood sugar and the surges of insulin that result can then drive blood sugar levels down to subnormal levels. This state is know as ‘hypoglycaemia’. This can trigger hunger and cravings, particularly for sweet or starchy foods. And so the cycle begins……you eat carbs, blood sugar rises, this makes your store fat, blood sugar drops too low, you crave more carbs, you eat carbs….and on it goes.

Fat is also a very important part of your diet. Over the past 30 odd years we have been bombarded with information telling us that eating fat will make you fat and that carbohydrates are needed as fuel for our bodies…….quite the opposite is, in fact, true.

Fat and protein were the dominant macronutrients over the majority of our two-and-a-half million years as evolving humans. We have thrived quite effectively on a very low-carb diet. Human metabolism is pre-programmed by evolution to be primarily fat based. Fat, not glucose (from carbs) is the preferred fuel for our body. When you consider that the body’s ability to store glucose is very limited (the liver can store about 100 grams of glycogen, less than one days worth and the muscles can hold an additional 350-500 grams, about enough for a 90 minute run) meanwhile we have a virtually unlimited capacity for storing fat. So you can understand that it would’ve been much harder, if not impossible to survive as a species if glucose were the preferred fuel.

Eating fat actually helps your body to release fat to be used as energy. You can easily re-program your body to access it’s fat stores for energy and not rely on carbs by simply cutting down on carbs. The first few days to a week of a low-carb diet can be very tough, you may crave carbs and feel low on energy. But once your body makes the shift to using fat for energy many people find they no longer crave sweet food, they have more energy and they sleep better.

To sum it up…….eating fat WON’T make you fat, eating sugar WILL. If the low-fat craze had been a low-sugar craze there wouldn’t be half as much obesity and diabetes in the world.

So load up on good quality protein, veggies and good fats, and cut right down on sugar and starchy foods if you want to lose weight and keep it off.

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