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THE HIERARCHY OF NUTRITION

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One of the biggest ‘arguments’ I have with people, usually regular gym members who ask as they pass by the gym reception desk is…… ‘Why can’t I lose weight?  I’m eating really healthy’.

I then challenge them on that exact statement and begin to explain in the nicest way that I can, that weight loss is all about calories in vs calories out, even eating ‘healthy’ can lead to weight gain if your healthy food choices are calorie dense.

People just don’t want to believe me, it’s like they feel personally attacked because they think that they are doing all the right things for weight loss (why ask me then, if you know what you’re doing?).

I think most people are hoping for an answer along the lines of ‘it’s not your fault that you’re overweight, it’s got nothing to do with your food choices, it’s just your body doing this awful thing to you.’

I have to bite my tongue and stop myself from actually saying ‘sorry, but it IS your fault’.  I know that would really start an argument, so I just shut myself up at that point.  And I don’t want to be rude, but I’d love for them to understand this objectively so that they are then able to work in the right direction.

The good news is though, this problem CAN be fixed and you DO have the power to fix it.

It’s hard work for some, but it can be done.  Here’s the hierarchy of nutrition, if you want to change your weight and body shape, this is how it works…. #science:

CALORIES – The most important thing when it comes to WEIGHT LOSS is calories.  If you’re eating too many calories for what your body requires, you’ll gain weight.  It’s as simple as that.  Really.  So, to lose weight you MUST reduce calories in (food and drinks) and burn more out (exercise and other daily activities).

The frustrating part of this is that one person might need 1300 calories intake (food and drinks) to lose weight.  Their best friend who weighs the same (or less) might need 1600 calories intake (food and drinks) to lose weight. 

Everyone’s calorie requirement is different depending on how much energy they are expending (calories burnt out), their resting metabolic rate (often dependent on how much muscle they have in their body – this is why i LOVE weight lifting.

Resting metabolic rate can be damaged as a result of crazy dieting and very low food restriction), hormones and hormonal response (cortisol production in response to chronic stress, leptin/ghrelin levels – your hunger/satiety hormones, insulin and blood sugar balance, estrogen).  This all impacts how many calories you need to eat/drink.

MACRONUTRIENTS – Are the next most important thing.

Basically, they all add up to calories anyway so getting this right will ensure you hit your calorie target….most of the time.  The reason I focus on macros with you is mainly for that reason….hit your macros and you’ll hit your calories.

But….. while your calories will determine what you see on the scales, your macros will determine what you see in the mirror.  Getting the right amount of protein, carbs (includes fibre) and fats will lead to a more ideal lean muscle/body fat balance (in conjunction with the right exercise – not TOO much cardio).

You can eat your total day’s calories in carbohydrates every day if you like but without enough fats and protein, you will end up ‘skinny-fat’.

MICRONUTRIENTS – are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in small amounts.  They are needed by the body for proper functioning for organs, body systems and metabolic functions.  Eg, chromium deficiency can lead to blood sugar and insulin problems.

Not getting enough B vitamins may mean that your body doesn’t cope with stress as well as it could.  Correct thyroid function is dependent on adequate levels of selenium, iodine, vitamin D, zinc, B vitamins.  All of these metabolic processes determine how your body holds onto fat to a degree, so vitamins and minerals are important, albeit less important than calories and macros for weight loss and ideal body composition.

MEAL TIMING – is important when it comes to energy that your body needs but is not critical for weight maintenance.  It really isn’t going to make a difference to your total body weight if you avoid carbohydrates after 6pm or if you eat breakfast at 5am or 10am.

Adequately fueling your body for your training session though can mean the difference between putting in a good session at the gym or a mediocre session.  Ongoing mediocre sessions will yield mediocre body shape results.

SUPPLEMENTS – last on the list because they matter the least when it comes to fat loss.  Only when you have nailed the rest of the list is it worth looking at supplements.

There is a small amount of research that indicates particular types of protein powder may speed up fat loss and increase muscle gain.

There’s also a small amount of research that might show the fat burning benefits of carnitine (only if you’re deficient), some say caffeine and green tea may have a fat loss effect.  Mostly, fat loss supplements are a waste of money and they might only contribute to about 1% of the fat loss outcome.  Again, they may only be of benefit when you have all the other pieces of the puzzle in place.

Of course, many appetite suppressant products can work because they are helping you create a caloric deficit.  I DO NOT recommend them.

I recommend eating right.  I recommend being aware of food choices.  Appetite suppressants do not provide this education, they are a very short term solution to a long term problem.

To your success, health and happiness.

Jodie Webster
PERSONAL TRAINER & NUTRITIONIST