diet

Sugar Isn't The Villain Here

So recently ive been on a bit of a roll blogging about carbohydrates, and this post is no different. Today we are dicsussing wether sugar deserves the bad reputation it has received in recent years through the media, and since sugar is a form of carbohydrate it is certainly worth discussing.

So is sugar really the villian that the media has portrayed to us in recent years? Is really that extra doughnut? Or slice of cake that is making you fat? Does all that sugar in a can of coke really make a difference?


Well here is the seriously interesting thing, and it’s that when you look at the data on sugar consumption and not the sensationalist media headlines, it has actually dropped since the 2000's, yet obesity has continued to rise unabated.

source: USDA Economic Research Service, image courtesy of Layne Norton Phd

source: USDA Economic Research Service, image courtesy of Layne Norton Phd

So why is this? Well, each year the US economic research centre releases a summary of food consumption patterns and it summarised:

"According to the loss-adjusted food availability data, Americans are consuming more calories per day than they did 40 years ago. In 1970, Americans consumed an estimated 2,039 calories per person per day; whereas in 2010, they consumed an estimated 2,536 calories (after adjusting for plate waste, spoilage, and other food losses).

calorie breakdown.png



Of this 497-calorie increase, grains (mainly refined grains) accounted for 171 calories; added fats & oils, 225 calories; added sugar & sweeteners, 34 calories; fruit and vegetables, 10 calories; dairy, 27 calories; and meats, eggs, and nuts, 19 calories".

So we're eating about 500 more calories per day than the 1970's - that's equivalent to about a pound of fat per week, given that 1lb of fat is = to 3500 kcal, and 500 kcal x 7 days = 3500 kcal.

We're eating more refined grains (like cakes, buns and things containing flour etc) - easy to overeat as they have a very low satiety.

We're eating more fats and oils - the biggest increase in calorie intake, which are very calorie dense (fats containing 9 kcal per gram) and not very satiating (sorry keto fans).

So what about added sugar intake? A tiny 34 calorie increase in the last 40 years. THIRTY FOUR CALORIES!

Basically the issue here, is simply the calories, obesity is primarily linked to calorie excess, Fat containing 9 kcal per gram and Carbs (including sugar) 4 kcal per gram & Protein 4 kcal per gram. ANY of these eaten in excess, will lead to weight gain and all the associated health problems with it. The graphs above highlight this that its the increase in calories that have continued the trend of increased obesity, and that is what we need to focus on.

But, "Added sugar consumption is unhealthy" i hear you say, “that’s what the media tells me! That’s what Jamie Oliver and Davina Mccall tell me”.

Well, science also disagrees with that claim. A summary of the the clinical research to date on added sugar consumption and health found:

"We conclude that added sugars consumed in the normal forms in which humans consume them, at amounts typical of the human diet and for the time period studied in randomized controlled trials, do not result in adverse health consequences".

Which is basically a fancy way of saying: unless your  diet consists solely of coke, and haribo you should be ok.

Well… fair enough your dentist won’t love you, but you should be ok otherwise.




The Metabolism Myth


Hey - it's James here.Founder of Route 1 health and fitness and today I have an important question I'd like to ask you.


Are you actually contributing to your own setbacks?

It's no secret that many of us are in a continual battle with the potential pitfalls that are regularly knocking, hounding us and trying to trip us up, and it's vital that the actions we make aren't adding to this list.

How many of you due to your past experiences with failure, would rather not try, because potentially stumbling again (even if it is a tiny remote chance) is too psychologically painful. .

One of the most important steps you can take toward achieving success is to address misinformation ( everyone has an opinion, but do you know what is actually accurate or who is just after your money?),



Another is to understand or recognise what are your usual pitfalls, and steer yourself toward habits/behaviours that contribute to weight loss (and keeping it off long-term) and any other health and fitness goal you may have.

It is a commonly known fact that on a basic level to achieve weight loss we must be in a calorie deficit, which we do by restricting calories and following an exercise program, simply put ( eating less and moving more as my sister would tell me). Both are crucial parts of a weight loss plan, but when taken to extremes these can leave you miserable and cause more harm than good, physiologically and emotionally, and lead you to fall off the wagon, binge and feel guilty for doing so. Something “extreme” might by going straight into a 7 day workout plan with weights nearly everyday, and ridiculous amounts of cardio, this is insane if you're just starting, it’s unsustainable and reckless.

If anyone tells you to train like this, they either don't know what they are talking about, or are being irresponsible after all are you training for the olympics?, (even i don't do such huge amounts of cardio everyday).

It’s Not JUST a Calorie Deficit

Yes it is true that weight loss is achieved through caloric deficit (calories consumed < calories used = weight loss), the journey though is rarely as easy this equation makes it out to be.

Screenshot_20181025-095031__01.jpg

Above is my own weight loss over the last year and ass you can see it trends down, but it is not a linear straight line. The was a consistent calorie deficit in this period, but many factors lead to minor raises and spikes here and there. Hormones, stress and water retention are all factors to consider, fat loss was consistent, but weight loss as you can see isn't linear.

When we consider how hard it is to actually achieve weight loss, and then throw in all the misinformation and promises of a quick and easy fix, what we have is the perfect storm for failure.

It has been my experience that many trainers offer nothing outside of the ‘numbers’ giving them just the calories and maybe some more nutritional advice but nothing after that. A coach doesn't just simply give you a plan and send you on you're way, a coach should give you this info and then teach you about it, help you to learn to motivate yourself and arm you with adequate info so that you can go forward and achieve long term results

 

A Bad fat loss plan won’t offer any support outside of nutrition.

It is important NOT to be drastic in caloric restriction, because we don't want to create a toxic relationship with food, there’s a sweet spot that can encourage weight loss, but still avoid possible physiological and emotional damage to the you. Studies show that while exercise is important, weight loss from exercise alone is modest and must be combined with a sensible and structured diet that leaves the client in a deficit, it is true what they say, “it is extremely difficult to out train a bad diet.”

In other words, you need to understand two important things:

  1. You need high levels of physical activity.

  2. But your high levels of activity do not have to be vigorous.

That means you do not need to do hours and hours of slogging away on the treadmill each day. Instead, you would benefit more from moderately intense cardio activity for 30 minutes three times per week, with increased walking throughout the day ( i personally do 30 mins of high incline walking on a treadmill several times a week - and burn around 300 calories!).

Is It Possible to Harm Someone’s Metabolism?

This brings us onto the Big Question, the one that many people use as a convenient excuse for their failure due to all the misinformation out there regarding weight loss programmes. can you damage your metabolism through a calorie deficit?

Maybe you've heard horror stories of people whose metabolism was completely wrecked from following low-calorie diets and programs that involved insane levels of activity.

The simple answer is not exactly, this is because as you're body changes so does it's requirements, if you don't make account for these adjustments then it is only logical that results may stagnate as you're body settles and fully adjusts to its’ new composition

The equation for changes in body composition is:

Changes in body stores = energy in – energy out

Think of it this way, if you're in a calorie deficit, and you're losing weight, your body requires a certain amount of calories just to maintain itself, eventually, you're weightloss will match the calorie deficit, and you're weight loss will slow and stop, as you're body composition now matches the required maintenance calories, so to continue weight loss, you must adjust for you new stores and work out what your new calorie deficit must be and vice versa to gain weight. Remember heavier bodies require more energy to move around, therefore require far more calories than a lighter body, so the lighter you are the less you will need.

The above equation holds true for everyone, but there are a lot of other factors that must be considered as well, such as:

  • Sex hormone levels

  • Macronutrient intake

  • Exercise style

  • Age

  • Medication

  • Genetic predisposition

These things should also be considered as variable as they can affect the above equation making it a bit harder to hone in on goals.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with the calorie-in-calorie-out equation.

The aim then of this post, really then was to address that a ‘damaged metabolism’ is really just a myth and created through misinformation or spread by lazy trainers and coaches who aren't doing their job properly. (i'm keeping separate those who have medical issues related to their thyroids etc)

To reach your goals, you should learn to recognise what is happening to your body. As you're body settles into its new composition it is important to adjust the required calories for your goals accordingly, the amount of calories your body will need to alter its composition will alter as you do, to match the new requirements.

Tracking your diet accurately is challenging, but the point I’m really trying to highlight is that attributing a lack of weight loss progress to “metabolic damage” is merely convenient and misleading. The truth is, creating a negative energy balance is the only way an individual will lose weight and vice versa.

So now that we have addressed that myth what we need to look at for you is how to prevent pitfalls in the future so you can continue on safely in the knowledge that you are moving on productively to your goals.

  • If your progress begins to slow, remember it is likely you need to adjust for your current body composition as it will have changed significantly from what it was previously.

  • Avoid going on extreme fitness plans, they are unsustainable to the uninitiated and can be harmful to you psychologically as well as physically

  • Train appropriately - moderately intense cardio (30 mins) and weights 3 times a week is more than enough to  start.

  • Make sure you're caloric deficit is enough to nudge you into weight loss, extreme deficits can be damaging mentally and are more likely to leading to you “falling off the wagon”, and going on a binge.

  • If you are making use of a trainer, make sure they offer more than just the ‘basic number’ when it comes to you're nutrition, you want to learn how to structure your diet, as well as understand why you are doing what you're doing.

I see myself not just as a trainer/coach but also a teacher, my ambition is to ensure you understand why you are doing what you're doing and why it is appropriate for your goals. I do this because if you understand why you're doing it, i find that most people are more likely to proceed and achieve success.

One of the keys to your success is understanding how to adapt to your body, when it has adapted its current situation, when you crack this you will be well on the way to achieving your body goals as long as you are consistent



Do You NEED To Take A Protein Shake?

Are you a high performance athlete, with extremely high nutritional demands? If not then the answer is probably not.

Protein and meal replacement shakes originally were designed to help athletes reach their nutritional goals when standard nutrition would prove to extremely difficult to achieve.

For instance some athlete have demands in excess of 5000 calories a day and the sheer volume of food that would need to be consumed is not only expensive, but also an extremely unpleasant experience as well.

All good nutritionists and dieticians would recommend Food in favour of shakes, and that shakes came about for those extreme cases when, it was either impractical or near impossible to meet certain goals effectively.

This was due to whey protein shakes, providing a fast and quickly digestible source of protein, to help athletes get the protein in when they need them to help enhance muscle repair and recovery times.

The average person doesn't need protein / meal replacement shakes and in fact they can to a certain degree be detrimental to your actual goals.

Yes a shake can seem highly convenient, they are quick and easy to make and in theory allow us to meet certain nutrition goals with relative ease, but there is a significant flaw in this approach.

YOUR  STOMACH IS A MUSCLE!


your stomach is a muscle! give it a workout!

your stomach is a muscle! give it a workout!

In fact all our organs are a type of muscle known as “smooth” muscle and digesting food burns calories, and helps maintain a healthy metabolic rate (the speed at which your body burns calories).

Eating solid food will take around 2 hours to pass through your stomach, whereas a shake which is liquid based will pass through in around 30 minutes. So ask yourself the question, which one is burning more calories in digestion and keeping your metabolism where is should be? The solid food of course!

The liquid one though it may have the same equivalent calories, will have used LESS energy in digestion, which in turn can affect your metabolic rate, slowing it down, meaning you should need fewer calories, and causing your body to become catabolic consuming muscle instead of fat to access energy reserves.

People often notice rapid weight loss on shakes, but this is a “false achievement” because as liquid has lubricated your intestines, the food stored in there (upto 4lbs at a time) will move through it much easier and be evacuated faster, allowing you to drop several lbs extremely quickly. This is usually accompanied by a low carb diet, which enhances this by tricking the body into losing water weight as well, (not fat).


“So i shouldn't take protein/ meal replacement shakes?”


Unless you're a high end athlete you should probably steer clear of meal replacement shakes, in general it is unlikely you're calorie requirement would be high enough to warrant one. Protein shakes maybe but only AFTER a workout and this is only because you're body is primed at that point to receive the protein.

The one caveat to all this however is if you find yourself desperately short of protein in your diet, you can use the protein powder that is used to make the shake, to add it to other foods that maybe used in baking as an additive or even to you're porridge oats or “PROATS” as the are popularly called once you add protein powder to porridge.

This can ensure that you are getting the protein that you need, whilst also making sure you are continuing to eat solid food! Achieving the best of both worlds.

Remember protein shakes were designed only to be a SUPPLEMENT to a healthy diet, never a replacement, and the “replacement” should only be really for athletes with extreme nutrient requirements.





How the Body Uses Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats

The human body is exceptionally clever machine that will make do with whatever type of foods are available to it. The mere fact we can survive on a variety of diets has been a vital tool for a species that evolved under conditions where food sources were scarce and unpredictable. Imagine a world where you had to depend on successfully hunting a woolly mammoth, discovering the carcass of a previous predators kill or finding berry bush for survive and you have the world our ancestors evolved in!

Today, for many of us, calories are mostly cheap and plentiful, and in reality probably too easily available. Understanding what the basic macronutrients have to offer can help us make better choices when it comes to structuring our own diets.

With every bite of food we eat, each portion of nutrition starts to be broken down for use by the body and so our bodies metabolism gets to work. A series of chemical reactions begins, that transforms food into components that can be used for the body's basic processes. These being Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats travel through various sets of metabolic routes that are specific to each major nutrient.


Basically if all three nutrients are available in your diet, then carbohydrates and fats will be used primarily for energy while proteins provide the raw materials for making hormones, muscle, and other essential biological equipment.


Think carbs and fats = fuel, protein = bodies building blocks.

Protein

Proteins in food are broken down into pieces (called amino acids) that are then used to build new proteins with specific functions, such as allowing communication between different cells, or transporting biological molecules from here to there. When there is a shortage of fats or carbohydrates, proteins can also yield energy. It really is the bodies swiss army knife that can do it all.

Fat

Fats typically provide more than half of the body's energy needs. Fat from food is broken down into fatty acids, which can travel in the blood and be captured by hungry cells. Fatty acids that aren't needed right away are packaged in bundles called triglycerides and stored in fat cells, which have unlimited capacity.


Carbohydrate

Carbohydrates, on the other hand, can only be stored in limited quantities, so the body is eager to use them for energy. We can only store a day or two of carbs, with in the muscles before they are stored as fats. The carbohydrates in food are digested into small molecules known as glucose or a sugar that is easily converted to glucose, (like fructose or lactose), that can be absorbed through the small intestine's walls. After a quick stop in the liver, glucose enters the circulatory system, causing blood glucose levels to rise. The body's cells hoover up this mealtime glut of glucose more readily than fat.


Once the cells are full of glucose, the liver stores some of the excess for distribution between meals should blood glucose levels start to fall below a certain level. If there is leftover glucose beyond what the liver can hold, it can be turned into fat for long-term storage so none is wasted (fat). When carbohydrates are scarce, the body runs mainly on fats. If energy needs exceed those provided by fats in the diet, the body must liquidate some of its fat tissue for energy (achieved through creating caloric deficit).

While these fats are a welcome source of energy for most of the body, a few types of cells, such as brain cells, have special needs. These cells could easily run on glucose from the diet, but they can't run on fatty acids directly. So under low-carbohydrate conditions, these cells need the body to make fat-like molecules called ketones. This is why a very low carbohydrate diet is often referred to  as a "ketogenic." Ketone bodies could on their own provide enough energy for the parts of the body that can't metabolize fatty acids, but some tissues still require at least some glucose, which isn't normally made from fat. Instead, glucose can be made in the liver and kidneys using protein from elsewhere in the body. But take care: If not enough protein is provided by the diet, the body starts chewing on muscle cells.