Weekly column by fitness experts Adam Wright and Jacqui Watson for the Waterford News & Star, in association with Kingfisher Fitness Club
I TRY to alternate the main subject of these articles. Exercise one week and nutrition the next. Let’s switch gears a little and aim more at overall health this week (although if you’re struggling with fat loss these topics will apply there too).
Eat them! Predominantly plant-based diets (not vegan or vegetarian specifically, just more plants) seem to be those that promote health best and are likely better for the planet long term (which is good for our “health” as a species). Veggies also contain loads of vitamins and minerals that are needed by many of the biological processes that keep us alive. Without them, our bodies don’t function properly, and isn’t that just the definition of “unhealthy”?
How could veggies also help with fat loss? Veggies are usually low in calories per portion. This means they can be used to bulk up the volume of food in meals without impacting the calorie content very much. Also due to the sheer amount that can be consumed for very low numbers of calories, and their fibre content, they tend to be very filling. Both of these things can help with adhering to the restricted calorie intake required for fat loss.
Get more! “Getting enough quality sleep can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can harm you over time. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.” (US NHLBI)
How could more sleep also help with fat loss? A study from 2011(PubMed ID 2951287) demonstrated that two groups with the same caloric restrictions lost the same amount of total weight but in the sleep deprived group more than 50% less fat was lost (meaning they lost more muscle and lean tissue). At the very least if you’re asleep for more of the day there’s less total time to nibble and if you’re better rested you won’t be seeking energy from food as much (ever get sugar cravings when you’re tired?)
Manage it! I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m just highlighting the effects of letting it stay high (unfortunately it’s a bit normalised nowadays… even held up as something to aspire too!). Long term stress can disturb the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems. People may experience digestive issues, headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger, irritability and over time, continued strain on your body from stress may contribute to serious health problems, like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, including mental disorders such as depression or anxiety.
How could less stress also help with fat loss? Stress affects hormone production and the GI system which can create changes in appetite and metabolism. Admittedly, some people do lose weight when stressed but a lot of people (myself included) can use increased food and drink intake as a method of coping with high levels of stress. Not ideal if you/we have fat loss goals.
Do it! For the majority of people being stronger will mean being healthier for longer. We all lose muscle as we age. Strength training early will mean having more muscle overall, meaning it will take longer to lose it all. Strength training AS we age will help us hold onto our muscles for longer.
How could strength training also help with fat loss? Strength training encourages the body to keep/build muscle. Weight loss occurs through consuming less calories than burned. So if you strength train while in a calorie deficit the only option for weight loss is fat loss. Strength training also helps drive nutrients and energy from the food we consume towards the repair, growth and refuelling of muscles used instead of towards storage (body fat/chronically elevated blood sugar levels).