YHATC010 – All About Fat Loss (Part 4)

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Last week, we started talking about the diet side of losing fat.  We talked about how, aside from getting your mind right, having a good diet is the most important component to fat loss.  I suggested that eliminating sugary beverages and replacing them with water, as well as making all of the grains you eat whole grains, are important initial steps to take.  Today, we’re going to go a little further with the diet stuff and I’m going to give you two more tips.  Remember that this is a series.  This is Part 4, so don’t forget to listen to parts 1, 2 and 3.  It’s kinda like making a turkey sandwich but you put the top piece of bread on before you put on the mayonnaise, mustard, tomatoes and lettuce.  Don’t try to rush to the end of this series before you get the rest of the stuff in the middle, you know.  Get the whole series so that you get to enjoy the whole sandwich.

Limit Carb-Heavy Foods

I grew up on Ryan’s and Quincy’s as a kid.  Those were the buffets when I was growing up.  These days the buffet that folks go to is Golden Corral, and Ole Times in this area, but back then, it was Ryan’s and Quincy’s.  Shoney’s was another one.  These were the places you especially went to after church on Sunday.  See, Mom and dad were going to the place that was most cost effective where they knew their kids could get some vegetables, and where they could get full, too.  You better go over there and get full, too.  If they were paying for an “all you can eat buffet,” you better eat all you can eat.  And for us, that was going to be the big meal of the day anyway.

Anyway though, you remember how we went to those buffets and we thought we were getting our vegetables in, but we still weren’t really eating vegetables?  I would go up there knowing that I had to get something besides meat.  So I would go up to the buffet, stack my plate with at least 6 of these fried chicken wingettes that they would have, and then I would move on to the “vegetables,” which were macaroni-n-cheese, mashed potatoes and corn.  Then I would go back to the table and get a yeast roll (back in the days where they would actually bring the rolls to you).  I thought I was doing good, man.  I didn’t have one vegetable on my plate.  Just a bunch of meat and starch.  Thankfully, mom and dad always made us get water, but I would still follow it up with an ice cream cone and some gummi bears.

Starch, starch, starch.  We are addicted to it in our society.  Potatoes, pasta, rice, corn, and bread.  It makes me think about how, when people try to go vegetarian or vegan, it’s hard enough to take meat out of the diet.  But going without bread?  Or other starchy foods?  That’s another beast in itself.

And I think that’s a big reason that a lot of vegans and vegetarians struggle with excess fat like everybody else does.  Starchy foods are high in carbohydrates, which essentially are a major energy source for your body’s cells.  So when you eat a whole lot of them and combine that with a lack of physical activity, what else is your body supposed to do except for to store all of that unused energy in your fat cells?

On top of that, a lot of the starch we eat is not whole.  We eat white potatoes without their skin.  We eat white rice instead of brown rice, and we eat white pasta instead of whole grain pasta, and so on.  The carbohydrates in those are more simple, just like the sugar in sugary beverages.  They burn a lot quicker so our bodies use them more quickly as an energy source.  But again, we consume so much of them that our body can’t use them all, and all that means is more fat gain.

So, if you really want to lose fat, you must consume less of these carb foods.  Period.  I’m not saying that carbs are bad.  Some of what folks say about carbs makes you feel that way, but carbs aren’t bad.  Potatoes aren’t bad.  Whole grain rice, pasta, bread and corn aren’t bad.

But think about it this way.  If you have a lot of fat that you have to get rid of, you have a lot of energy reserves.  So basically, what you have to do is live in such a way that you use your own energy reserves, rather than just continually adding to them.  If you eat too many carb-heavy foods, why is your body going to get rid of any fat?  It has no reason to.  You need to significantly lower the amount of “energy” foods that you consume to make your body go to its own fat storage.

My basic rule of thumb is, you don’t have to eliminate all carb-heavy, starchy foods, but limit them to one meal per day.  If you eat rice or potatoes for dinner, then your breakfast should contain foods that aren’t starchy, like eggs and fruit, and your lunch should be all vegetables.  A big salad or some non-starchy cooked vegetables with a little protein would be good.

Another good rule of thumb is, for the meals that you avoid starchy foods, replace the starches with non-starchy foods.  Instead of a potato, eat a salad or an extra side of greens.  Instead of grits or oatmeal, eat a bowl of fresh cut fruit.  Instead of a side of corn, eat a side of cabbage.

Prepare Your Snacks

Let’s move on to the next and final point for this diet portion of the “All About Fat Loss” series.  When I eat lunch at work, I usually eat it around 11 or 11:30 am.  But guess what?  Around about 1:30, I’m hungry again, man.  It’s crazy.  I could have even eaten a big lunch, but I’m still hungry.

Once I get hungry again, I start catching myself looking for snacks.  But how many of you know that it is pretty much impossible to find healthy snacks at work?  Well, there are a couple of things you can get, like maybe peanuts.  But who wants peanuts, man?

Here’s my point.  If you’re like me, you get a little hungry sometimes between meals.  That’s fine.  But if you do, you MUST prepare your snacks.  When you go to the grocery store for the week, you gotta go and buy some healthy snacks that you can carry with you to work.  If you don’t, there’s no doubt that you’ll catch yourself gaining unhealthy weight.  It’s easy to get into a habit of eating bad snacks…candy bars, honey buns, chips, pork rinds, M&Ms, etc.  If you start eating those at work, they’ll probably become addictive before long, and next thing you know, you’re eating them every day, all day…likely consuming thousands of extra unhealthy calories because you’re literally grazing on snacks.

What you need to do is this.  Go to the store, and purchase a few things like grapes, apples, oranges, bananas, carrots, broccoli, nuts and dried fruit.  Get healthy stuff that you like.  If you don’t like it, you don’t have to buy it.  Now, if you’re trying to lose fat, you’ll probably need to go easy on the nuts and dried fruit, but anyway, get those things.  Get you some little plastic snack bags, or even better, get some reusable small plasticware or glassware containers.  Fill those with enough of the store bought snacks for a mid-morning snack, as well as for a mid-afternoon snack.  Pack them up in your lunchbox, and take those to work with you.  That way, when those snack cravings come, and they will, you have no excuse to go and buy a honey bun because you already have something with you that’s much better.

You can have the strongest zeal in the world, but if you don’t prepare your own food, it is literally self-sabotage…especially in this day and age, where we tend to make ourselves too busy.  It’s always easier to go pick up something from somewhere that’s already ready.  All you have to do is pull it out of the package.

But if you do that and catch yourself wanting to burn fat, you can forget it.  The folks who are most serious about losing fat are going to need to put in work.  They prepare their snacks beforehand.  They limit their carbs and eat more non-starchy vegetables instead.  The grains that they do eat are whole grains.  And also, they wean themselves of the need to drink something sweet, opting for pure water instead.  I’m telling you, this is hard to do, but this is what you do when you’re serious about losing fat.  When you develop these habits, lasting fat loss is guaranteed.

Now that pretty much concludes what I wanted to say about the diet side of fat loss.  Moving onto the exercise side, I’ll say again that exercise isn’t as important as diet.  It’s a lot easier to eat 1000 Calories than it is to burn 1000 Calories.  But nevertheless, exercise is still very important.

I’m going to say “physical activity” rather than “exercise” for the rest of this podcast.  The reason why is because, when we think of exercise, we think of some sort of organized movement that occurs in a studio or in a gym.  We think about having access to exercise equipment.  But that’s not really important, especially for the average person.  It’s not really as important that you do formal exercise as it is that you just perform physical activity.  If the most physical activity you get in a day is walking from your house to your car, from your car to your job, and then the same thing in reverse at the end of the day, you don’t need to be worried about doing formal exercise anyway.  You just need to get into the habit of requiring yourself to move more throughout the day.

So anyway, let’s talk about how to approach physical activity when you’re trying to lose fat.

Do Enough Physical Activity

Let’s say that you aren’t a couch potato.  You walk 5 days a week for 30 minutes, and you’ve been doing it for a year.  You saw results initially, but for the past several months, you haven’t seen any changes, and now you’re just about ready to throw in the towel and pick up the twinkies.  Why aren’t you seeing results anymore?

Well, it’s simple.  Assuming that you’re eating healthy, you’re not exercising enough.  If you’ve been doing the same exercise even for a couple of months, the reason it’s not working enough is because your body is used to it.  God created our bodies such that they have incredible ability to adapt to whatever they’re regularly exposed to, and that goes for exercise as well.  Whatever you keep on doing, your body will adapt to make it easier.  That’s why you’re not losing fat anymore.

So what should you do?  Do more!  Yep, you need to increase the amount of physical activity you’re doing until you start tapping into your fat reserves again.  If you’re doing 30 minutes a day, go to 45 minutes a day, or an hour, even.

Think about this.  The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that you do at least 250 minutes of moderate physical activity every week if you want to lose fat.  So that would be good for you to evaluate yourself against.  An hour three days a week might not quite do it for you because it isn’t enough.

An easy way to do this, though, is to not think of your physical activity as just being you exercising at one point in the day.  Have an exercise session during the day, but do other active things everyday, too.  Play with your kids.  Engage in a sport you enjoy.  Work outside beautifying your yard or your garden.  All this will help you add in more physical activity and burn more fat.

Use Your Muscles

Another thing you need to consider is your muscle.  If you want to lose fat, you need to make sure that you’re maintaining and building muscle.

See, a lot of folks get scared when talk of building muscle comes up because they’re thinking, “I don’t wanna gain weight.”  But that is such a huge misunderstanding.  It’s why I’ve been talking about fat loss instead of weight loss.  When you’re overweight or obese, it’s fat that you need to lose; not just weight.  Muscle tissue is healthy tissue.  You don’t really want to lose muscle, especially when you’re older, since we naturally lose muscle much quicker as we age.  It’s called sarcopenia, and it’s associated with weakness and an impaired ability to get yourself around.

So yes, you want to keep your muscle.  You need to focus on losing the excess fat.  But if you don’t engage in physical activity that makes good use of your muscles, focusing instead on only cardio, what happens is, as your body gets rid of fat, it gets rid of muscle too.  And that’s bad.

It’s bad because, one of the reasons that muscle tissue is healthy is because it’s very metabolically active.  It increases your metabolism, which has to do with the rate that your body uses energy.  In other words, when you lose muscle, your metabolism slows down.  That means that the rate at which your body burns calories slows down, and you are much more likely to gain fat.

So, don’t let all of the exercise you do be focused on your heart and lungs.  Make sure that some of the exercise that you do is weight-bearing, meaning that you have to engage your muscles.  Use weights to do exercises like bench press, squats, rows and deadlifts, and make sure that the weight you use is something that you can lift for up to 10 repetitions per set.  I like to do bodyweight exercises like push-ups, bodyweight squats, hill runs and pull-ups.  They can work just as good as exercises with weights.

You don’t even have to do exercises like these, though.  Do regular everyday stuff that makes you use your muscles.  Haul dirt in your garden with a wheelbarrow.  Rearrange your furniture in your house.  Stack firewood.  Squat down to weed your vegetable garden.  Go buy some pinestraw and handle the bales yourself as you freshen your beds up.  Of course, know your limits, but my point is that there are a lot of ways that you can incorporate weight-bearing activity in your daily tasks.


Have a question you want answered on the Your Health At The Crossroads show?  Interested in becoming a sponsor of the show?  Tweet your question to @ShawnB2BFitness, put it on the YHATC Facebook page, or call (478)216-8536 and leave a voicemail.  You can also send your question via e-mail  to shawn@yourhealthatthecrossroads.com.  Sponsorship inquiries can be sent via e-mail or by calling (478)216-8536.

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