Finding weight loss a struggle?
Are my hormones to blame?
How hormonal are you?
Let's expand upon why we should not rely on counting calories and start trying to control the hormones that are responsible for fat storage.
First off, read the following sentence, and then re-read it another 5 times until it makes complete sense:
"Begin to look at achieving REAL fat-loss not by looking at the AMOUNT of calories consumed, but by focusing on the TYPE of calories you consume."
The reason why the type of calories consumed is so important is that different types of calories stimulate different hormones to a great or lesser extent. If its REAL fat-loss you’re after, then you need to regulate these hormones.
Hormones are little chemical messengers sent out from glands located all over your body to try to control the things that are happening inside your body. Without them we would be dead. There are A LOT of hormones inside your body which regulate your metabolism and influence REAL fat-loss, however in this article we mainly focus on the big-hitter, INSULIN.
So, what happens to our hormones when we eat?
Well first off, let’s just say that the REASON why you may have just eaten is due to a hormonal response! Yes that’s right, there are hormones that control your appetite and cravings (Leptin and Ghrelin). So for now, let’s say that the more rubbish food you eat, the more cravings you will have. Now will power is a great thing, however your will power is not sustainable so controlling hormones that influence appetite and cravings is your first port of call.
Take home point: The reason you may be hungry and craving things is due to hormones!
Next, let’s talk about the hormonal response when we eat foods. Let's be clear from the start by saying it really depends on the TYPE of food you eat as to what hormonal response will be taken by the body.
This is the main reason why simply counting calories just doesn’t work. For example, you could make 2 choices regarding meals:
1.) Chicken breast with pesto, kale and sweet potato
2.) Pasta in a tomato sauce with ½ a garlic bread
Looking at both meals, for arguments sake, we are eating 400 calories at each meal. So according to the counting-calories method, both would hopefully help me lose fat if it was part of a calorie controlled diet. However look at the hormones that are produced after eating each meal. Once you understand this, you will then start making better food choices to achieve REAL fat-loss.
Meal 1 consists of a large dosing of lean protein (chicken breast), with 2 vegetables that are considered medium (sweet potato) and low (kale) on the GI index. Lastly, you have some pesto to add taste (this will add fat to the meal – made from pine nuts and olive oil which are healthy fats). So first off there is MUCH LESS carbohydrate calories in this meal compared to meal 2. Next, there is a serving of protein and a serving of fat, as well as a good amount of fibre within the sweet potato and kale.
What protein/fat/fibre do is SLOW down the digestion of the carbohydrates found in the sweet potato/kale.
The reason why this is so important is because the slower the carbohydrate foods are broken down into its simplest form (glucose), the less amount INSULIN is released.
INSULIN is a REAL fat-loss participant’s worst nightmare. Now in reality insulin is a useful hormone however for attempting REAL fat-loss.
View it as extremely detrimental in your attempts to lose REAL fat. Let me explain why.
Insulin is the hormone that stores calories.
If you want REAL fat-loss, you do not want to be storing calories, you want to be burning them off right?
So what you MUST appreciate is you need to limit the amount of insulin produced, and you do this by sticking to the following principles:
1.) Only eat low/medium GI foods
2.) Eat a maximum of 10 regular bites of starchy carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, cereals) with each meal. For most of you just 5 bites would be recommended to really help with REAL fat-loss
3.) Ensure you eat a protein source (meat, poultry, eggs, natural yoghurt) with each meal
4.) Eat a small amount of fat (olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil – generally to cook the food or add as a sauce/dressing) with each meal.
5.) Ensure you eat some vegetables with each meal (low on the GI index) to get in your fibre.
Looking at the second meal you will see why this will be a REAL fat-loss person’s worst nightmare due to the hormonal response it produces (even though it only contains the same amount of calories).
Pasta first off is a VERY HEAVILY refined food. Basically this means that there is nearly no goodness in it whatsoever (i.e. virtually no vitamins/mineral or any fibre). It also has a high GI rating meaning it will stimulate a lot of FAT-STORING INSULIN once consumed. The garlic bread will simply add to this.
This is NOT the way to go for REAL fat-loss!
So there you have it, a few take-home points to keep you on the straight and narrow… For all other questions, give me a shout over on twitter @XERCISE4LESS
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