Earlier this month I continued on my quest to be an eternal student by spending my weekend in a classroom with No1 Fitness Education and Body Novo to get my Transformation Nutrition Coach qualification. Nutrition truly fascinates me. Having had a very disordered relationship with food for a very long time, actually understanding the ins and outs nutrition has been an important learning curve, taking away the fear of eating.
Having geeked out on the likes of Lyle Mcdonald, Layne Norton and Eric Helms for quite some time, I feel that I do have a good understanding of what role nutrition plays in both normal life and exercise. But, I’m always eager to learn more, so when No1 Fitness asked if I would like to join this course I leapt at it. It was really interesting going into the course and essentially fortifying the knowledge I had already garnered from my own reading around the subject. Being the little geek that I am, I loved that the course confirmed that I was on the right track with my home study and that I also got some extra little gems of knowledge to add to my growing arsenal of tools for clients and my future business as a personal trainer.
What’s more, I love learning from people who clearly, truly know their subject, and Grant from Body Novo was obviously one of those people. Overall the course was an intensive weekend where he forced us to challenge our previously held convictions on nutrition, analyse them and really think for ourselves. Fan of fasted-cardio…but why? Like eating low carb…but why? I came away from the weekend not only with a qualification but with a much deeper understanding of the how’s and why’s of the minefield that is nutrition. Here are some of my key takeaways…
Calories are King
I know, I know. It’s not sexy. Calories aren’t cool, they don’t sell multi-million-pound book deals and they don’t get people signing up for your app that pays for your holiday in the Maldives. But, in reality, you just can’t argue with the maths; energy balance really is as simple as calories in vs calories out. Honestly, for years I tried to make it so much more difficult than that, but it really doesn’t have to be. If your calories in are less than your calories being burned then you will lose weight. The end. Obviously, there are things that can affect either side of the equation, but that’s all they’re doing. Affecting the equation.
Now, I’m not saying that losing weight is easy. The laws behind weight loss are simple, but actually losing weight is a hard process. But once you understand the whole equation it does become a lot simpler for sure.
You Don’t Have to Count Calories
Wait, what? Didn’t I just say calories are king? Yes, they are. But one thing I really took away from the course was that calorie counting isn’t the only method for losing weight. For some, calorie counting can be really tedious and/or daunting, which is a tough one for me and my food scale to reconcile with. But it’s ok to not want to track down to the gram every day of your life. If cutting down on carbs works for you then that’s great! As is going for so-called ‘clean eating’ where you opt for far more whole foods and lots of vegetables. Ultimately, you’re still hopefully cutting the number of calories consumed, but you don’t feel like you’re calorie counting. And if that’s helping you reach your body transformation goals then that is fine!
Adherence Beats Everything
Hands down. If you can’t stick to your diet goals then you’re not going to hit your transformation goals. Adherence can be affected by so many things, so it’s really important to take into account your lifestyle, your dieting preferences and the length of time you’re going to commit to this diet. Honestly, there’s no point deciding to go low carb without drinking for six months if you love pasta and a cheeky glass of wine on a Friday night. You’re just setting yourself up to fail from the off. Ideally, try to create a balance of flexible eating including space for a few of your favourites, a realistic timeline and calorie goal and consistency. Those are the must-haves for success.
There is No Such Thing As ‘Bad’ Food
It really is time to move away from the dichotomy of good food vs bad food. Food is food. It has no moral value. Obviously, there are foods with higher nutritional value, and you should aim to include as much of them in your diet as possible. But if like me, you like the occasional slice of cake and glass of wine then it is totally fine to enjoy them guilt-free within your calorie goals. Just make them fit. A rule I like to live by, and that was also suggested by Grant on the course, is to take an 85:15 approach. 85% of the time opt for nutritious, whole foods that support your goals, and then 15% of the time you can have some of your favourite, more calorie-dense foods. Just make sure to hit your fibre and protein goals daily and you’re good to go.
You Don’t Need Supplements
The fitness industry as a whole seems to be screaming at us to take this protein shake and that BCAA drink at every opportunity. In reality, it’s just not necessary. Supplements should be just that; supplemental. Always aim to get everything you need from food first and foremost, and remember that supplements really are the very last thing on the weight loss hierarchy pyramid. Supplements that are recommended however, are creatine monohydrate, which is one of the most-researched supplements out there and has been proven to be 70% effective which is amazing, vitamin D3 because, who are we kidding, we live in the UK and do not get enough sunshine, and fish oil tablets if you’re not eating fish two-three times a week. If you do want to take a protein powder then whey or casein is your best bet for getting complete protein – you’re looking for a high leucine content otherwise there really is no point. The course recommended you look at www.examine.com if you want to get the lowdown on your favourite protein powder brand.
Putting the Pieces Together
So you want to kick-start your weight loss transformation? Well, it really just comes down to upping your energy expenditure and reducing your food intake (yup, we’re back at my favourite equation again). To put it into practice here’s the basics:
- Try to diet on as many calories as possible. Seriously, he/she who eats the most while losing weight wins.
- Give yourself enough time. Don’t set yourself up to fail with an impossible deadline. Plan ahead, take your time and stay consistent.
- Rapid fat loss is possible but does have a cost. That isn’t to say it’s necessarily bad as many people would have you believe these days. If you need to drop some fat quickly then it is possible in a short time period, but you will have to make more sacrifices than if you go for the slow and steady approach. Ultimately, that decision is yours and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
- Allow yourself time to see changes. If after two weeks you are not seeing any changes in photos or on the scale then, and only then, is it time to change things up.
- If you are changing things then depending on your preferences it’s time to either reduce calories or up the cardio. Playing with that equation again!
There honestly was so much covered over the weekend I could go on and on about it and get super geeky on you. I particularly loved busting some media diet myths, getting a proper understanding of the role of insulin finally, and learning how to put together a nutrition plan for a client. All topics for another day I think! If you are interested in the course then I highly recommend it, it’s also offered as online training so you can complete it in your own time at home.
As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments. And if you do take the course let me know how it goes!