Three Ways to Shape Shift

Welcome back!!

Hi folks – just a quick one today – here are 3 ways to shape shift…

Shifting you shape is all about altering the composition of your body so you have a greater proportion of lean tissue and less fat.

Shape Shifting deals with complex biochemical processes, metabolism, mental attitude and hormones. It is not a simple thing to do. But the actions you can take to achieve greater leanness and less body fat can start off simply enough.

1) Try to eat “single ingredient” foods as much as possible

Diet accounts for over 80% of your efforts to recondition your metabolism and alter your shape so it is important to begin to get it under control.

Learn to read these - the fewer ingredients the better...

If you are buying packaged food check your labels. The fewer ingredients listed (especially the fewer chemical names & numbers & different sugar types) the better. Avoid anything with Transfats listed as more than 1% ( zero is better) or anything that screams Low fat but is full of sugar – if fact if any food you buy is over 10% sugar you probably should give it a miss.

Even better try to increase the fresh component so that you are buyibng the majority of your food so fresh that it has NO labels! Think Lamb & Letuce, Beef & broccoli etc etc.

Our bodies just run better on whole foods and the less procesing involved the better for us & our health. These foods are typically more nutrient dense, usually calorie sparser and give us feelings of satiety more quickly and for a longer period of time.

The exception to this is canned & frozen foods like vegetables and beans. Nutritionally these are usually as good for you as fresh food (in some cases even better).

Again check the labels for high suagr or sodium – avoid any with these in high proportions. Use the Single Ingredient rule – the fewer items listed on the label the closer to nature and less processing that has taken place.

2) To Shape it you’ve got to Move it!! – Move more…

An effective metabolism is your greatest tool for fat loss and better health. If you don’t move your metabolism slows down.

The more you move the happier you are...

This does not mean that you have to live in the gym but that you should incorporate a range of physical activity into your daily life. So go to the gym (3 times a week no more than 1 hour at a time) to lift heavy weights, walk every day, climb hills, go padddle Boarding, ride a bike, do dance classes (even Zumba), wrestle your kids, throw the ball for the dog, re-arrange the furniture – whatever hits your switch, If they stop swimming sharks diejust move!!

If you work in an office download this free little timer ( set it for 45 minutes and when it goes off stand up and go for a quick walk, do a few squats – anything but get out of the chair! Then reset it for another 45 and get back to work. Your metabolism & back will thank you.

Studies have shown that people who walk 10,000 steps or more a day are happier, less stressed and have higher energy levels…

Your metabolism slows down if you don’t move and you fat goes up. Remember our bodies were designed to move…

3)Sleep on it…

Studies have shown clear links between lack of sleep and fat gain. We live in times of long work days, meals on the run and watching late night television to ‘wind down’. The net effect is that we are sleeping less and our bodies, in particular our metabolisms are paying for it.
The biological rhythm of sleeping and waking is called our circadian rhythm. And this is intricately tied to our metabolism.

If you wake up like this you need more sleep...

This 24-hour circadian rhythm governs just about all of our fundamental physiological functions.
Researchers have discovered (Science 1 May 2009: Vol. 324 no. 5927 pp. 654-657 DOI: 10.1126/science.1170803) that an enzyme protein called SIRT1 interacts with a protein nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD for short) that senses cell energy levels and modulates metabolism and aging. In other words there is a tightly regulated co-dependency between your circadian clock and your metabolism and cellular performance.

This also suggests that proper sleep and diet may help maintain or rebuild the balance between your circadian clock and your metabolism, and could also help explain why lack of rest or disruption of normal sleep patterns can increase hunger, leading to obesity-related illnesses and accelerated aging.

So if you regularly deprive yourself of sleep, you’re effectively disrupting your biological processes, including those regulating your metabolism. The news gets worse – lack of sleep has been shown to affect levels of leptin and ghrelin, the two major hormones linked with appetite and eating behaviours. When you are sleep deprived, your body decreases production of leptin, the hormone that tells your brain there is no need for more food. At the same time it increases levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger.

The end result is decreased satiety, hunger pangs, and a sluggish metabolism…

So what is the right number of hours of sleep to get? Truth is there is no one-size-fits-all number of prescribed hours, although there’s some evidence indicating that somewhere around seven hours a night is ideal from a general health perspective.

If you are waking up feeling sluggish you need more.

So there you have simple ways to begin to ‘Shift your Shape’

Let me know how you go with them.

That’s it. And it really can be that simple. No gimmicks. No fads. Just small, proven life changes that have a lasting impact.

And that’s what Body Shape Shifters is all about — permanent long term change based on skills you take with you. Knowledge is power, and we’re sitting on top of fuel grade uranium!

Real Training for Real Fat Loss

Welcome Back!!

Today’s blog is about laying out the facts of how to train for real fat loss. Regular readers will know that I believe you should focus on fat loss, not weight loss. (If you don’t have a copy of my free report on fat loss myths you can get one from the box to the right of this post)

Simply put, after over a decade of my own ups, downs & failures to achieve lasting fat loss I have developed some fairly strong opinions on this issue.

Lots & lots of reading these last 10 or so years...

I have come to hold theses opinions through a combination of educating myself by reading articles, chasing down scientific papers, following an ever changing cast of fitness ‘gurus’ and by trying just about every program there has been. Like famous author Tim Ferriss, I have used myself as guinea pig, and I have arrived at some convictions about fat loss.

The biggest mistake I made and the one I still see the most people making is this belief that low intensity, high volume cardio is the best way to lose fat.

Let me tell you this is a crock – not true at all!!

They have their place, but not the one you've been told!

Short sharp cardio (think Tabata’s or sprints) will burn more fat for longer than hours on a treadmill, a stationary bike, stepper, strider or slider. There is a heap of research out there on this. Trouble is many Personal Training organisations, many medicos and other ‘health’ professionals are either using information from textbooks that were old when they did their degrees or else they are playing politics to gain more mainstream acceptance. Doesn’t really matter – high volume low intensity cardio is a mug’s game. Period.

Second in line is the belief that doing high volumes of circuit training exclusively is the best means of burning fat.

When I first started coming across the research on the effect of high volume circuit training on fat loss I thought that I had found the Holy Grail. The more I looked the more research I found to support this, the more of the Gurus I found who supported this – it seemed like a no-brainer.
Again – this is not right!!

One of the benefits of being your own guinea pig is that you can judge what actually works and what the effects are.

The truth is that no one exercise modality can or should be used exclusively when fat loss is the goal. What you need is a mix of exercise types that hits different energy systems in your body and works to drive your metabolism.

Using circuit training exclusively I found:

1) That the perception of effort was right up there – these were hard & challenging workouts!! So hard in fact, that I started to collect niggling injuries from too many repetitions.

2) This came about from the high volume of exercises were giving my joints, tendons & ligaments a real beating. I developed overuse injuries and these required me to stop & heal – no fat burning happens when you can’t work out!!

Injuries mean no fat loss

3) The type of exercise done in these ‘fat loss’ circuits did not allow for much weight to be used 9nor could it be safely used) so my strength began to drop off. Rapidly. A beginner may have gotten stronger (if they avoided overuse injuries) but anyone with any time using weights just seems to get weaker.

4) A drop in strength and a lack of challenging weight coupled with high volumes = Muscle loss. High volume circuits when used exclusively as a fat loss modality leads to lean tissue loss which leads to a slower metabolism which leads to shifting any fat just gets harder & harder to do.

5) High Volume Circuits also cause physical stress out of proportion to their benefits which increases your levels of cortisol (everyone’s favourite ‘fat to the belly’ stress hormone) and decreases both Growth Hormone & testosterone release. Certainly not what you want for fat loss.
However this does not mean circuits are bad. Nope they just become bad when they are used exclusively for fat loss and other exercise types & protocols are not used.

An effective, metabolic reconditioning program needs to contain most if not all of the following key factors:

1) Lift weights, heavy weights using compound (multi-joint) exercises. Think Deadlifts, chin / pull ups, squats, overhead presses, clean & jerks or even one-armed push ups. Think 4 – 6 reps and no more than 3 or 4 sets.
Not only does this preserve lean tissue, it promotes strength and better fat utilisation as fuel

2) Train fast but safe. In other words perform your exercises as fast as you can whilst maintaining good form. This engages your nervous system and leads to a faster metabolism.

3) Perform some size work – use weights that you can move for 6 – 10 reps and again no more than 4 sets. Again try for compound moves or bodyweight exercises where you are at a mechanical disadvantage. NB these sets should always come after your heavy sets.

4) Circuit training – no more than 3 stations, no more than 15 – 20 reps a time and only 3 – 4 rounds.

5) Sprint. Great for fat loss, great for your legs, do wonders for your cardiovascular & aerobic systems. Best done either later in the day or the day after your weight / circuit training.

Move your body through space - the faster the better!!

So there you have it – the best way to achieve maximum fat loss via exercise.

Give this style of training a try, and see for yourself!

5 Truths about Fat Loss

Welcome back!!

Here are five truths about fat loss that you often do not get told by the ‘weight loss gurus’ out there:

1. Prepare to be uncomfortable – At least for the first while.

In order to ose fat you have to make changes and as we have seen inprevious posts your body doen’t like change very much. in fact it fights it!! Thsi means that if you are serious about fat loss and are using a real program you will feel uncomfortable for a little while while your body starts to accept and then utilse the changes you are making.

One of the easiest changes to make is to eat less. by this I mean try to eat less than you are normallycomfortable with.

Changes from a poor to a good diet can be a litle uncomfotable for a few days...

We all know that lose fat we have to create some form of calorie deficit on a regular basis and a simple way to do this is to eat less than what has become ‘normal’ for us.

The key to doing this succesfuly is to eat foods that promote a feeling of satiety – and this means lean proteins, fibrous carbs and good fats with a distinct lowering of processed carbs.
If you can do this on a regular basis, eating less will quickly become the new ‘eating normal’ for you.

2. This is a tough one, especially in this day of media overkill interms of how we should look & act – but compare yourself to yourself.

No two people’s shapes are the same, everyone has a different body shape so it makes no sense at all to say I don’t look like Brad Pitt (I don’t!) or Angelina Joie ( I definately don’t!!) as no=one does.

The photos we see on magazine covers of either celebrities, models or just ‘beautiful people’ are photshopped, airbrushed, and taken from expertly lit photo shoots done by professionals. No real person can look like that without the same technology and support (make-up, lighting, personal chefs etc etc) being available. Yet we tend to compare us to these images and almost EVERY picture you see a completely unrealistic illustration of a human body. And like it or not, no matter how hard we try we will never look like these images…

It will take a while to get to look like this - if ever. be your best, not the media's...

By all means use the mass media images as a means of inspiration but the ONLY person you should be comparing yourself to is yourself. Use the mirror and way your clothes fit to chart progress and focus on becoming the best that you can, not the bestt hat Photshop can produce…

3. Be in a hurry but be patient. At the same time.

Sounds crazy but what I mean is that there is NO evidence to back up the idea that the maximum ‘safe’ fat loss is a couple of pounds a week. This is an arbitary number that has gained widespread acceptance without any scientific backing.

It is possible to lose a lot of weight more quickly than this – but (notice I said weight and not fat) the usual drastic means often mean fluid loss, wrecked metabolisms and ending up a skinny fat person.

You can safely lose over 20 pound of fat in a month by using the right protocols – eating nutrient dense, calorie sparse foods; increasing your lean protein intake, exercising so you maintain muscle mass and increase your metabolic rate and use diet tricks that manipulate your hormones and enable you to successfully combat your body’s desire to maintain the status quo. These things usesd together will deliver a string fat loss.

So you you sould be in a hurry to get on the right program and begin to make the necessary changes so your metabolism becomes fitred up again.

Move it more...

You should be patient as even with a fat loss of 20 pounds in a month you are unlikely to see thaose 6-pack abs or get as lean as you want. This is where you keep at it and twatch the results come.

In my experience most 30 -day body recompositions for someone who is over 30 pounds overweight progress something like this:

First Week – Some cravings, your body is fighting back some soreness from unaccustomed exercise.

Second Week – The odd craving or 2 surfaces, your body is getting used to eating differently, you have dropped some size, exercise is not as challenging and you feel stronger.

Third Week – No cravings, visible changes, clothes fit better you are stringer & feel fitter & stronger, energy levels rise.

Fourth Week– Waist measurements are lower, your shape is diffeent- especially in the arms & legs and under the chin; the food is second nature, the exercise a habit and you are seein gthe results of a 20 pond fat loss and feeling great.

Feel fitter & stronger...

Again – this is generic – how your body and your mind react will be unique to you but in general if you follow a program like the ones outlined in previous blogs thisis what will happen.

4. Just because you are exercising more does not mean that you can eat more. Not yet.

Remeber you are trtying to fire up your metabolism and a proper program will enable you to eat the right fuel and not feel hungry. However there is a persistent myth that just because you exercise you can ‘reward’ yourself by eating lots more or even re-introducing some of the foods that got you fat in the first place.

Wrong – you cannot & should not. At least not until you are at your goal shape (again shape NOT weight). Once you are there you can switch to a maintenance program and frankly after 30 plus days of eating correctly you will not likely want to over eat or eat junk. (NB a good program allows for ‘Cheat days” where you eat what you want but again over time even on the cheat days you’ll find your desire for poor food much diminished.)

5. Lastly understand that your weight will flucuate over your fat loss journey.

So don’t weigh yourself every day – this is the quickest route to depression and falling off the leannes wagon there is.

Your goal is fat loss, part of this is increasing lean mass. Lean masss weighs more than fat so the scales could show you even gaining some weight in the early weeks. Add to this diferences in fluid intake & retention, Menses, the differing effects of different foods and your weight can alter as much as 6 or 7 pounds from day to day.

Get off the damn scales!!

Use the mirror, use your clothes and if you have to use the scales do it once a week at the same time and on the same day.

Stay the course and focus on the monthly trend.

I’ll be back soon!! Be well!!

How to Master Hunger

Welcome back! I hope that you & your family had a safe & enjoyable New Year’s celebration.

When you are trying to lose fat, recondition your metabolism manipulate your hormones, exercise intelligently and still create a calorie deficit experiencing hunger is the quickest way to fall off the fat-loss wagon.

Constant, nagging hunger pangs are usually the sign of a diet too full of processed carbs and sub-par protein. Your body is so used to eating nutrient sparse foods that it has become conditioned to hit he hunger switch so it can get as many nutrients as possible. On a processed food diet these nutrients are sparse so they come with a load of sugars & so-called empty calories.

Lots of calories with little nutrition...

Even worse it is now believed by researchers that when you don’t consume enough nutritious foods your body enters a state of nutrient under supply which creates inflammation and a release of metabolic waste products that are toxic. The end result is a hunger pain that is truly painful & only alleviated by eating.

A recent study (Changing perceptions of hunger on a high nutrient density diet. Fuhrman, J. et al., Nutrition Journal 2010 Nov 7;9:51. Carried out at Hahn School of Nursing, University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA ) has the answer though. And it echoes what I put forward in my 4-part post on reconditioning your metabolism.

The study involved 768 people who changed from diet lacking in micronutrients to one that was high in micronutrients. They then completed a survey that dealt with a number of the dimensions of hunger – things like mood swings, irritability, physical symptoms and where they felt the hunger in their bodies – on the 2 diet types.

In the study the level of and pain associated with hunger experienced (and the level of difficulty involved in coping with it) both dropped dramatically when the people involved switched a diet heavy in healthy foods. Large differences in the physical & emotional symptoms were found in the reporting between the 2 diets.

On the nutrient dense diet, hunger was not experienced as often as the sparse nutrient diet, nor was it as painful or even as unpleasant. This held true even when meals were skipped! Positive changes to the way in which they experienced hunger were reported by almost 80% of participants with 51% saying they had experienced ‘a dramatic or complete change in their experience of hunger.’

The study concluded a nutrient dense, though calorie low diet reduces or removes the less pleasant aspects of hunger. They found that it was not the amount of calories that influenced hunger but the density of the nutrients in the food eaten.

This is the ticket for nutrient density...

So – forget about counting calories; instead fill your meals with nutrient dense, low- or unprocessed foods. Focus on quality foods like nutrient-rich fruit, vegetables, whole grains with lean proteins and healthful fats – if you don’t your body is going to miss them and demand more fuel.

Just imagine – once you start feeding your body better it will make hunger a more pleasant and rarer experience, it will crave good food instead of processed crap, and you’ll find it easier to stay on the fat loss wagon.

I’ll be back soon – in the meantime why not leave a comment, Tweet this to others or ‘Like’ us on Face Book.

Be well.

The Top 20 Time-Tested Healthy Habits for a Longer Life

Happy New Year!! I hope that you all had a great & safe new Year’s celebration.

Now the hangovers are done with and we are in the middle of resolution time I thought that I would share the following list with you…

So without further ado here are The Top 20 time-tested healthy habits to living longer that have survived for centuries…

1.     Eat fewer processed carbs, more plants, fruits and nuts.

2.      Have some lean protein with every meal.

Eat more of these with lean protein

3.      Put family first – Time with family is priceless and usually lowers stress levels and hence lowers cortisol which means les storage as belly fat.

4.       Take a walk. Move more we were not meant to sit all day or stay in the one spot. Have a stroll every 45 minutes – even if it is just for 5 minutes.

5.      Drink a glass of red wine daily. Reveratol etc etc – red still beats white for the good health properties.

6.      Reduce and manage stress by exercising, talking with a loved one or taking up a practise like Mediation, Tai Chi or Yoga. Bottomline stress kills so avoid it, reduce it or deal with it!

7.      Have a purpose find something that excites you when you wake up each morning.

8.      Spend more times outdoors – it will re-connect you with the world ourside your house & place of work.

9.      Be grateful – appreciate what you’ve got more than you rue what you do not.

10.  Have fun – do things that you enjoy, love life!

Move more, lift, push pull & play...

11.  Maintain a healthy body weight – recondition that etabolism, get leaner, eat better, avoid ingesting too much crap.

12.  Get regular exercise – push, pull. twist, run, walk, move weights, jump and play. Just move more. Remember we were designed to hunt, nit sit all day.

13.  Love and laugh – at the same time wherever possible (except when eating – messy…)

14.  Snack on nuts and low GI vegetables, low GI fruit and low fat cheese.

15.  Give something back. No esoteria here but paying things forward, giving when you whave wants seems to smooth the way…

16.  Eat 6 times a day – 3 ‘mains’ and 3 ‘snacks’

17. Eat a large breakfast with protein and good carbs.

18.  Eat a medium lunch –

19.  Eat a small dinner

20.  Drink plenty of water.

You can't get enough of this...

21.  Sleep when it’s dark.

22. Learn new things. It keeps you young, your brain working and lets you talk to others.

Well that was 22 but I couldn’t find anyhting about counting correctly when I researched this…

Next Post – we’re back into firing up your metabolism, getting leaner and some more hormone news…

Post Christmas – Recovery from Over Indulging…

Hi – I hope that you all had a great Christmas day and Santa brought you what you wanted!!

Well Christmas dinner is over, done and dusted. And you’re feeling….well stuffed, over fed, pants too tight, got a good case of belly bloat going on and that furry tongue feeling that comes from either too much alcohol. too many sweet carbs or a mixture of both.

You mean there's more...

You know you should have followed the last post and eaten your Protein first but the honeyed veges looked too good, the egg nog was too plentiful and well you just let go and enjoyed youself. Another Christmas day come & gone and you feel a bit guilty and find part of your mind saying (again) never again..

Okay time to move past this, time to get back on track, tme to recognise that this was a temporary diversion and most of all time to repair some of the damage done.

So how to do this?

Firstly realise that letting go of your diet control once & a while is okay, just make sure that you climb back on the wagon.

Here’s how – your metabolism has been given a hiding, your digestive system has been stressed far beyond normal limits so you need to hit the ‘reset button’.

This little trick will do the what’s needed: Once Christmas day and the following one (Boxing Day here in Australia) are done then make a decision to stay away from all highly processed, high GI foods and focus on lean Protein, fresh fruit and fibrous vegetables. Add some healthy fats via nuts & avocado and you are well on the way to getting back on track.

You'll need lots of this...

This means waking up and having an omelette with some spanish onion and mushrooms in it and avoiding cereal & milk. It means grabbing an apple or a peach and some almonds for a snack, having big salads with olive oil dressing and chicken or turkey breast, it means avoiding breads, crackers or that the left over Christmas pudding, Pavlova or pie.

It means drinking a lot of water. A lot of water.

Eating like this will reduce the bloat, ease the stress on your digestive system and beat back those sugary carb cravings.

This works by allowing a number of things to happen – fewer carbs means your body has a chance to normalise & stabilise blood sugar levels after the havoc of the days just gone. Your pancreas gets a break and you insulin levels will drop also. Your body will release excess fluids (high sugary carbs creates water retention – and drinking extra water when eating lower carbs actually forces a situation where excess retained water is ‘let go’). High sugaery carbs also unleash the cravings monster and eating as described above will blunt these.

... and lots of these...

So December 27th or 28th get stuck into water and left over protein , veges and fruit. Pass on the potatoes, the bread and sweets, pie & cakes. Not only will you lose the bloat but you’ll feel better quicker and be back on track for a fit & lean 2011.

My best wishes for a Safe & Happy New Year – may 2011 be the year all your dreams come true!!

Try this Trick to Avoid Overeating on Christmas Day…

Happy Festive Season to you & yours from me & mine!!

Look – we all know what is going to take place once the presents are opened, the hugs exchanged, and you and your family sit down for Christmas lunch – you’re going to eat too much, way too much.

If you’re like me, you vow every ear not to overindulge and every year you slip up. ( in my case it is particularly hard – Lynne is a gourmet class cook who loves to put on a huge spread for the family for Christmas and damn it she knows ALL my favourites!!)

The Calm Before the Storm...

The aromas of the Turkey, of the roast Pork, the leg of Lamb, the baked Ham; the sight of the salads, the roast vegetables, the fresh  prawns and sea food, then desserts – all of these combine to overwhelm even the best intentions and steeliest of wills.

So what to do?

How can we avoid eating until we are so full that we feel like the Michelin Man and need to have a lie down?

How can we avoid the latent guilt that comes up over the next few days and makes us feel bad about our lack of control?

It’s simple – apart from the most fanatical amongst us we really can’t… BUT there is one simple thing we can do that will give us at least a modicrum of control…

Eat your Protein foods first. (Hah!! You thought I was going to say use smaller plates, or drink a glass of water first, or chew on a chunk of cheese  – Nope – a very important part of Christmas is to celebrate and to let go – even if it is just a bit!)

Start off with the Ham or the Turkey, with the Pork or the Lamb or the Prawns – just eat your proteins first.

If you have been reading this blog for a little while  you’ll know that Protein foods not only fill you up faster, but they assist in the the secretion of the chemical messengers that let your brain know you are full.

In general it takes about 20 minutes from the time your stomach is full until your brain gets this message, but Protein has the ability to send get that message from your stomach to your brain much faster than other nutrients. Protein promotes feelings of satiety (feeling full & satisfied at the same time) better than any other food.

Start with this...

Eating your Protein first will prevents over eating because it helps you realize you’re well-fed and not starving!! Even better, Protein will not elevate your blood sugar as dramatically as high GI ‘fast’ carbs. A rapid rise in blood sugar (almost an instant hyperglycemia experienced at just about every Christmas Dinner) can actually make you feel more hungry by stimulating the hormone Ghrelin which is the ‘feed me more’ appetite stimulating hormone. Protein shuts down this hormone – a good thing!

Even worse a sugar ‘high’ actually switches off your ‘stop eating you’re full’ mechanisms so you get shaky and start shovelling food in – usually faster and faster, without even really tasting it.

Instead, protein keeps your blood sugars within a normal range so you don’t go through the rollercoaster highs and lows that make you feel even less satisfied.

So Protein first, then eat the high fibre vegetables (think brocolli, green beans, asparaghus etc). These too will add your sense of satiety so you feel full & satisfied.

Then it is open slather – go for the high carb, low fibre fare but you’ll likely find that your servings will be smaller and you will need less to satisfy your taste for them.

There you have it – a simple plan for Christmas that will enable you eat well, feel full & satisfied, indulge without bloating and more importantly not upset the cook by eating like a monk!!

I hope that you & your families have a great Festive Season, no matter what your spiritual beliefs.

May your God go with you!


Calories ain’t just calories

Hi – There is a school of thought that says a calorie is just a calorie and it does not matter where your calories come from. I, like many others do not agree with this viewpoint.

A Calorie is not a calorie

When it comes to losing fat and re-conditioning your metabolism, exercise is important – really important. But the most important part of shifting your body shape is what you put in your mouth. I would say that 80% of your results in terms of fat loss and metabolic reconditioning lies with what you eat and how you fuel your body.

A healthy fat loss program is created from a sound nutritional base and good information.


A calorie is nothing more or less than a measure of energy. It is the amount of energy, or heat, required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit). One calorie is equal to 4.184 joules, a unit of energy commonly used in many European, Asian & Oceanic countries as well as the physical sciences.

Difference between calories and kilocalories

A single calorie is a tiny amount of energy – so the “calories” referred to on food packaging and in diet plans are in fact “kilocalories” (a thousand calories, often referred to as Calories – with the capital C). With metric measurements, “kilojoules” (1000 joules – kJ) are always used.

Calories matter, as they allow the energy content of different foods to be compared – but they are by not the only factor to consider when developing a successful fat loss program.

One word of warning – do not get too hung up on counting calories. There are plenty of foods that are low-calorie but which have little or no nutritional value. These are the dreaded ‘empty calorie’ foods that impart no benefit to you if you eat them. Likewise there are plenty of ‘Low fat’ foods that are chock full of sugars and just dreadful for you and your fat loss efforts.

The old weight loss (not even considered as a fat loss) approach was to establish how many calories you needed to maintain your Basal Metabolic Rate (the amount of calories needed to survive if you were resting and doing nothing all day), add some more calories to cover off any exercise undertaken and then reduce the figure arrived at by at least 500 calories per day so you created an energy deficit.

The thinking was that all calories were equal, that your body dealt with them irrespective of origin and if you reduced your daily intake by 500 calories you would lose 3500 calories (1 lb, .5 kilo) in a week.

In many medical establishments this is still the way things are done.

It is useful to know how many calories you need to keep functioning each day, but it is the source of the calories that you eat that is important. A calorie is not just a calorie.

How about if you ate your daily requirements (say 2200 calories for a male) as hot dogs? Or if you ate nothing but Pizza, or white bread or Oreo Cookies – how would you look and feel?

Now think about how you would feel if you ate the same amount of calories as lean protein, with fruit and vegetables. Which style of eating would see you putting on the most fat and losing the most muscle mass?? The first one, of course. So a calorie is not just a calorie except as a unit of measurement.

Make no mistake eating too many calories above what your body needs, no matter what their source, will add fat to your body. However certain types of calories, & certain types of foods are predisposed to boosting your metabolism and others are predisposed to turning it off. A calorie is NOT a calorie – your body handles the calories from different types of food sources differently.

The next post will deal with reconditioning your metabolism.

A Quick Metabolism Booster

Here is a quick way to get your metabolism firing along better than it is at the moment…

Remember a stronger metabolism equals a leaner body and less belly & body fat.

Typically in the Western world we eat like this:

  • Breakfast is the smallest meal of the day, if we eat it at all – far too many get by on Coffee on the go only…
  • Mid-morning high carb, high sugar snack & coffee to pick up energy
  • Lunch is a sandwich and soft drink, or takeaway with a juice – usually a moderate sized meal that is eaten quickly.
  • Afternoon snack – usually high sugar to fight the afternoon energy drop..
  • Dinner, the evening meal is the largest meal of the day, often eaten late at night.
  • Late night snack in front of the TV as we relax – usually processed high GI carbs

There are several problems with this:

1)      Our metabolisms are highest in the morning – skipping breakfast after your body is coming off the equivalent of an 8 hour fast is a sure way to drive your metabolism down when it is at its highest and ablest to handle a hefty influx of calories.

2)      Typically we eat the largest meal at the wrong end of the metabolic spectrum – we eat most at the end of the day when our metabolisms are slowest. A large, carb heavy meal not only slows it further but it has more chance of being stored as fat.

3)      In eating this way there are only really 2 – 3 meals there with some high sugar ‘top ups’ to energy reserves. Eating this way causes a slowing of your metabolism and an increase in fat storage.

4)      Our body goes through its repair programs during sleep readying us for the next day. These repairs generally deplete our glycogen stores and this means that our bodies can handle carbs better in the morning as it strives to replace these stores. Because we don’t top them up with a big breakfast we get the sugar cravings and end up snacking at various times during the day.

5)      At the end of the day though your carb handling is at its lowest ebb – and this means more chance of fat storage if we are piling our plates with lots of carbs – especially the processed high GI kinds…

In other words the typical Westerner has meal timings and sizings that are backwards. Because our metabolism is lowest in the evening we should be eating less then and eating the most in the morning when our body is primed to receive a hefty influx of calories.

The way to increase our metabolism is to make use of this higher ‘calorie tolerance’ by having a large high carb, high calorie (with lean protein of course!!) meal in the morning for breakfast. This way we will be spurring our metabolism on, have more energy throughout the day (and less sugar ‘hit’ cravings) and will burn more calories over the course of the day.

This is how we should eat:

Breakfast – A large sized meal, with lean protein and a higher carb intake – your biggest meal of the day in terms of calorie load.

Lunch – A moderate sized meal with moderate carb intake (ditch the soda though!)

Dinner – The smallest sized meal, with a lower carb intake – and make sure that they are low GI carbs as much as possible.

If you follow these simple recommendations and flip your calorie intake from evening to morning, I guarantee you’ll have more energy, fewer cravings, improve your metabolic rate and lose belly & body fat faster.

8 things to avoid whilst trying to Lose Fat

The important thing is to focus on fat loss not weight loss – following these 8 tips will help you avoid some common mistakes…

1. Set unrealistic expectations

If you have 40lbs to lose it is unlikely that you will be able to drop this much fat in a month in a way that is sustainable. I mean if all you lived on were shakes and exercised like crazy you might do it, but you went back to your normal eating patterns back will come the weight. Be smart find a program that works and use it. 20lbs in 30 days is doable in a sustainable fashion, so you might have to cycle through a program a few times to reach your goal or better still set to reach your goal over a challenging but achievable time frame. 40lbs – say 3 months.

2. Weigh yourself every day

Your weight can fluctuate up to 6 lbs a day depending upon fluid & food intake, hormones and more besides. Daily weighing can be extremely discouraging. The best measurement is twofold – how you look in the mirror and how your clothes are fitting you. Remember the goal is Fat, NOT weight, loss. If you have to use the scales – use them once a month, same time, same day.

3. Skip meals

Skipping meals isn’t going to help you lose fat, but eating 5 or 6 times a day will!! Skipping meals damages your metabolism and creates issues with a number of hormones all of which combines to keep the fat on you. Our body’s deal with food better in small frequent feedings rather than 2 or 3 large ones. Studies have shown that the same amount of calories when eaten over 3 meals leads to more fat storage than if they were ingested over 6 smaller meals.

4. Completely cut carbs

It is popular to cut carbs these days and certain types of carbs should be reduced or even eliminated from your diet if you are to recondition your metabolism and lose fat.

The truth is though that carbs are our body’s main fuel source and the right types of carbs (think nutrient dense, low calorie low GI & unprocessed) will actually keep your body humming along and assist with fat loss.

The Fibre from unprocessed carbs is an important component for gut health, for regularity, for fat loss and for craving control – eat your carbs – just avoid the processed ones especially the ‘White’ ones (sugar, flour, rice etc).

5. Starve yourself

Not eating activates all sorts of hormone cascades in your body all of which are designed to ‘batten down the hatches’ to hold off what your body perceives as starvation. Your metabolism slows down, fat is preserved and carbs and muscle tissue get burned for fuel. This route of fat loss means you end up a smaller fat person.

6. Workout longer than an hour at a time

Sixty minutes is it, in fact longer workouts are the key – you can work hard or you can work long only a very few rare individuals can do both. Workouts longer than an hour increase cortisol (the belly fat hormone) levels dramatically and cut into recovery time. This is not to say that you can’t work out twice in one day – just make sure that the types of exercise are different – for example weights in the AM and sprints in the PM

7. Expect to lose Fat without exercising

Losing Fat is 80%+ diet, but unless you are reconditioning your metabolism with physical activity as well then you will not achieve all you can and in many cases run the risk of becoming a smaller fat person as lean tissue disappears due to non-use. Remember lean tissue = high metabolism. A high metabolic rate = lower fat.

This doesn’t mean that you have to hit the weight room every day – go for a bike ride, do some Pilates, do some sprints – Move dammit!!

8. Drink Alcohol

Alcohol is a poison and the body cannot store it so it has to process it immediately it is detected. This means that your fat burning comes to dead halt and your good work diet & exercise wise was for nothing.

The amount of alcohol involved is different for everyone – it may a glass of beer or wine, or a bottle – it doesn’t matter – if you are trying to lose fat you must pass on the alcohol until you reach your desired fat loss.

These are just a few tips – please sign up and get your free report to learn more practical tips to help you lose fat and get leaner.

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