Monday, January 4, 2010

Is it really that confusing?

I went to a friend of my daughter’s to pick her up last night and bumped into the friend’s mum, a lady of similar vintage to myself. She had not seen me for some considerable time and remarked on how much less of me there was. She said she too would like to lose weight but it is all sooo confusing. How had I done it?

That got me to thinking. It is confusing, but why so?

Call me a cynic but I think the whole ‘diet’ thing has been made confusing by the fractured and self interested nature of the diet industry. Each part of that industry (and it is enormous) is interested in pushing forward it’s solution as THE solution.

Let us examine a simple proposition, one that has worked for me, it has transformed me from a fat, sluggish 51 year old that was deluded in thinking that he was just big boned into a more realistic leaner, healthier, fitter 51 year old, who is under many fewer illusions.

The proposition is that in essence getting lean is actually quite simple and straight forward. The problem is that there really is not a great deal of money to be made from selling ‘products’ this way. How so?

The first building block to a leaner life is in your own head. Get that sorted and you are well on your way. True it may be that you have to spend a few bob on a good book or two but if you really want to you can glean huge amounts of information from the good old interweb. You must be prepared to sort the wheat from the chaff but it is out there.

Secondly eat well (with a calorie deficit while trying to lose fat). By eat well I mean good food, quality food. Not specialist foods, not diet food just the best quality food your budget will allow. If you are reasonably well off by all means eat fillet steak, if you cannot stretch to that slow cook some shin of beef, it will end up falling apart tender and taste better than the fillet. Vegetables are plentiful all year round and if you choose those that are in season they will not cost a fortune. Trouble is for the ‘diet industry’ there is no way you can process a vegetable to make it more healthy. Why because it is usually pretty damn perfect as it is. Learn how to make good bread. You will find that you need eat less of it because it is denser and more satisfying. No need to eat the ‘diet’ variety. In fact I would go so far as to say that there is no need to eat any ‘products’ of the ‘diet’ industry.

Thirdly. MOVE!!!! Part of the reason we have such an obesity problem is that we have not evolved to do what I am doing now, sitting at a PC typing! Our bodies were evolved to move, to work, to run, to walk to where the food is. So to get lean we HAVE to move more. That means cardio vascular exercise, running, cycling, swimming, walking. No need for any sort of diet industry here.

Fourthly. Re-build lean mass. If you have a temporary calorie deficit (what is often referred to as dieting) your body will to a certain extent catabolise it’s own lean mass as well as some of the fat that is stored.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am a rabid advocate of maintaining lean mass. Why? Simple really lean mass (muscle and organs) takes a lot more calories to stay alive. Therefore if you maintain your lean mass while losing fat your metabolism will be higher than if you lose of lean mass along with the fat.

So given that anyone in deficit will lose lean muscle, the body has to be encouraged to ‘re-build’ it’s muscles. This is done by doing resistance (weight) training that take the muscle to the point of hypertrophy, which is where the micro fine fibres are broken and need to be repaired. It is the repaired strands that strengthen and re-build the muscle.

Again there is good evolutionary reasoning for this. Successful early humans would have lifted rocks carried branches and done all manner of other things. Those that maintained and repaired muscle well did better than those who did not. Evolution in action.

But again not something the ‘diet industry is going to tell you about’ is it? True, gyms do well out of it but there are many many things that can be done at home at very low cost.

So is it really confusing, this getting lean business? Get your head straight, eat quality fresh food whenever possible (in the short term at a deficit to your energy needs). Move. Get the heart pumping, encourage the body to burn off excess fat. Re-build the lean muscle being loss through weight bearing resistance exercise.

How confusing is that, the rest is just detail?

These are the secrets that the diet/nutritionist/supplement industry does not want you to know, because there is nothing in it for them. They are desperate to sell their supplements and diet magic. In past day they had a name for these people – snake oil salesmen.

Ask yourself one other question do turkeys vote for Christmas? Why then would the diet industry ever come up with a product that worked? If it did it would go out of business.
If one person reads this blog and starts to think differently it will have made my year because it will be one more person delivered from the grasping clutches of the diet industry.

1 comment:

  1. well said i think you have hit the nail on the head with this.. i think too many people (me included) get so overwealmed with all the advice out there that we forget to stop and think about the basics, like you said the main thing is to get your head in a place where you are certain of what you need to do,, i have finally got to this place and the rest follows shortly after, i purchase my veg off the local market and when i can afford to i buy my meat from the local butcher i make basic meals for me and my family now that contain lots of veg and fresh meat, i also walk every where i have always done this as i dont drive i have no choice really unless i rely on busses which are very unreliable of late.. Since deciding that i need to lose the "jelly belly" i have also started using my punchbag and also my multi gym and so will start to hopefully see the benefits of this. I now realise there is no quick fix and dont expect to see the results overnight but i have set myself on the right path to have a healthy rest of my life and that also for my children..