After a week of not playing by my own dieting rules, I measured myself and came in at a hefty 81kg with 18.5kg of that fat. The measurements are unbelievable really given that they are taken after a period of 2-3 workouts a week, cycling to work most days and at least one long run or bike ride a week. Whoops! I shall recover. (Indeed as I write, I know I’m back down below 80kg again, but I’m preparing for a bicycle ride this weekend so I’m worrying more about fuel than weight loss.)
I’m not particularly bothered because I feel fit and healthy. I’m pushing heavy weights, heavy for me at least. But I could do with losing some of that fat. The only way to cope with failure is to start again and refresh one’s self on the basics. Here are some lessons learnt and lessons remembered:
1. Attempt to come off a high protein/low carb diet and you need to think carefully about portion sizes and calories again.
Most of these diets work because the body keeps the insulin levels low which means you don’t store fat most of the time. And usually you can get away with eating as much as you like. As soon as you add insulin raising foods back into the diet, you need to think about balancing what you eat again.
2. Food is fuel. Choose the right fuel for the job.
For most of my working life, I have been sedentary. The Slow-Carb diet fits my needs most of the time. If you exercise a lot (bike rides over 2 hours, intense weight sessions, bodybuilding) you may need a different diet. I cannot survive a long bike ride over 30 miles, without adjusting my diet with porridge, bananas and energy bars.
If your goal is simply to lose weight (or more specifically fat) then cut starchy sugary carbs – consider the Atkins diet or the Slow-carb diet, but follow them to the letter. Choose the right foods for what you do.
3. Lifestyle choices are important. Or in other words, I drink too much.
Basically, this is where I fail – I have one glass of red wine too many and it stops the diet from working. Simple lifestyle choices can affect your health immensely and sometimes you have to sacrifice a bit of pleasure in order to meet your fitness goals.
4. Diet plays a big role in weight management. Exercise plays more of a role in fitness. Both contribute to overall health.
What is says really. A fat version of myself used to go to the gym and exercise half-heartedly. I didn’t really lose weight until I sorted out my diet. From experience, I would say that diet is more important than exercise in losing weight. That said, I would always recommend doing exercise to feel better and get fitter.
5. A good way to manage is to measure.
The only way to know your weight, fat and muscle mass is to measure it. Period. So I’m going to go back to measuring myself on a daily basis. The important metrics for me are:
- Weight in kg – should be decreasing or stable
- Muscle mass % of weight – should be increasing
- Fat mass % of weight – should be decreasing
- Water % of weight – I feel good when this is between 53 & 54%
- Upper and lower waist in “s – I want these to decrease.
The upper waist is on the tyre where the gentleman wears his trousers. The lower waist is below the tyre where Generation Y wear their trousers (and I stress not where the common folk let their jeans hang low).
6. If we diet, we need to stick to the rules, period.
As soon as we break the rules, it is very likely that the processes our diet relies on will be broken too. So if you are on a calorie-restricted diet, don’t break the restriction. If you are on a low-fat diet, don’t eat too much fat. If you are a low carb diet, don’t eat the carbs. Pick one diet and stick to the rules.