This is a guest post by Jules Clancy of Stonesoup.
As a food lover, I’ve always found nutrition both fascinating and confusing. Even though I studied two basic nutrition subjects at university, I’ve struggled to understand the conflicting messages we’ve all been given over the years.So I always have an ear out when a new diet book comes out. I’ve waded my way through Skinny Bitch, French Women Don’t Get Fat and even Atkins Essentials. And I’ve always ended up disappointed. But late last year when I read The Paleo Solution and gave it a go, I felt I was heading in the right direction.
Since then I’ve been changing my way of eating and I’ve been applying the principles I discovered in both books. The lessons from both Ferriss and Tabues are consistent with the results I’ve been seeing in myself.
It’s really exciting stuff—and it’s working. Here are a few ideas I’ve gleaned from this research: five unusual ways ot slim down and stay there.
1. Don’t try to eat less
The whole idea of eating less and stopping before you’re full is a double-edged sword. Not only does it make you more likely to binge between meals, it also causes your metabolism to slow down. Think of it as when you eat less, your body adjusts to having less food available by decreasing your metabolism, that is, decreasing the amount of food it needs. Not a good idea.
Listen to your body. Eat until you are full, but of course, don’t over do it.
2. Don’t exercise to excess
Gary Taubes cites many studies on rats to prove exercise doesn’t make us thin. I prefer to think about my own experience.
When I was training to run a marathon, I’d expected one of the side effects would be losing weight. But I didn’t. My body adjusted to me running 90km a week by giving me an enormous appetite.
While some exercise vs no exercise can help with weight loss, the benefits don’t increase the more you exercise. Our bodies adjust our appetites to suit our level of activity.
I’m not saying don’t exercise. There are a heap of other benefits. Apart from exercise being fun it’s also great for your mental health. Just don’t expect crazy amounts of exercise to make you slimmer.
By the same token, don’t beat yourself up about not exercising if you want to lose weight. It’s more important to focus on changing your diet.
3. Manage your carbohydrate intake
According to Gary Taubes, we get fat because we eat certain types of carbohydrates.
Basically when we eat carbohydrates they increase our blood sugar levels. Our bodies then produce insulin to help get our blood sugar back to normal by storing the excess energy as fat.
So too many carbohydrates = too much insulin = fat bodies.
Of course it’s not that simple. Some people are naturally more sensitive to insulin than others. This means that for the same amount of carbohydrate, the less sensitive people produce more insulin and so spend more time in Storing Fat mode (one of the reasons why some people are more likely to put on weight). Also as we age, we become less sensitive to insulin (hello middle-aged spread).
The other complication is that not all carbohydrates cause the same amount of insulin to be produced. You may have heard of the Glycemic Index (GI). This is a measurement of how different foods influence our blood sugar and therefore how much insulin they stimulate in our bodies over time. In effect, how fattening they are.
But GI can be difficult to understand. And it’s not fun having to look up tables all the time to see what we should and shouldn’t be eating. So I’ve adopted Tim Ferriss suggestion to avoid all ‘white’ carbohydrates, including all grains and sugars, and instead eat plenty of beans, legumes, and veggies.
4. Don’t be afraid of fat
We need fat to live. Whenever we decrease fat in our diets we tend to replace it with carbohydrates which stimulate insulin production and promote the storage of fat.
Don’t be afraid of saturated fat either. As Gary Taubes reports in Why We Get Fat, “Trials like the Women’s Health Initiative find that eating less fat and less saturated fat have no beneficial effect (at least for women)”.
5. Have a cheat day every week
This is one of my favorite Tim Ferriss suggestions. Nominate one day a week where you’re free to eat as much as you want of whatever you like. The main benefit here is psychological. It stops you feeling deprived and decreases the risk of bingeing randomly. It also helps give your metabolism a boost (see point 1).
After years of always trying not to over indulge, it’s truly liberating to have a day going crazy in the name of your waistline. But even better, you feel so crap afterwards, it makes you appreciate how good you feel the rest of the week.
It’s also great because every time you have a craving during the week, you can add it to the list of things to eat on your cheat day—a much better result than a permanent No.
Jules Clancy is a qualified Food Scientist and blogs about her commitment to only cooking recipes with no more than 5 ingredients over at Stonesoup. She is also the creator of The Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School where she is currently running a class called Reclaim Your Waistline.