The diet conundrum (part 1)


This New Year, millions of individuals will set out determined to finally shed the fat and improve their health. Most people feel like they need something radical, or very different to what they are currently doing in order to see sufficient progress. The harder the effort and the greater the struggle the greater the outcome, right? Not quite!


Unfortunately most of us will look to dropping the weight by undertaking diets whose main component is to reduce and slash our total daily calorie intake to a very low level. For many individuals their total diet resembles that of an anorexic, prisoner of war during a famine, born without tastebuds. Every calorie is meticulously counted and any slight deviation is akin to murder.  This is doomed to fail from the start and here I hope to explain why.


The real key to fat loss is to position yourself so that you are eating as many calories as possible whilst simultaneously losing body fat and building/maintaining lean tissue. If you can afford to eat plenty of carbohydrates and plenty of total calories on top of a diet rich in protein, fibre and healthy fats, changing your body composition will be an easier and less challenging process.  There is much greater room for manoeuvre and capacity to make changes based on how you wish to look, feel and perform.


Our metabolic rate is governed by many factors, most notably from hormones secreted by the thyroid gland, leptin levels and muscle/tissue metabolism. If you were to half your current total calories say from 3,000kcal to 1,500kcal, it is dead certain that you would see a significant drop in bodyweight.  This weight loss would come from a loss of intracellular water, body fat and muscle tissue.


Calories in, calories out. That’s all that matters surely? If I eat less then I will lose body fat. Here is an example of how this is not correct.


Let’s take a middle aged woman (subject A) as an example.  Subject A is a 47 year old mother of two with an office job and a moderately active lifestyle.


Subject A: First day of the diet


Height: 5ft 4in

Weight: 14st

Body fat: 40%

Total daily calories required to maintain bodyweight: 2,349kcal


Currently daily caloric intake: 2,500kcal (an excess of 151kcal per day)


Let’s say that this lady started a typical western diet programme such as lighter life or weightwatchers.

Theoretically, if this lady were to drop her calories from 2,500kcal to 1,500kcal per day consistently for 2 months she would lose a considerable amount of weight and rightly so, as this is a major reduction in caloric intake. Let’s assume that this lady has at the same time decided to take up some moderate exercise consisting of three 1 hour dog walks and one aerobics class per week.  After 2 months her stats may look a little like this.


Subject A: 2 months into diet (moderate exercise) eating 1500kcal a day


Height: 5ft 4in

Weight: 13st  (a drop of one stone)

Body fat: 36%  (a drop of 4%)

Total calories required to maintain bodyweight:  1,800kcal   (549kcal per day less than day 1)


Weight lost: 5lbs of water, 5lbs of body fat, 4lbs of muscle


During these two months she was in an 849kcal deficit from her dietary changes and also burnt an additional 1,200kcal per week from her new activities (an extra 171kcal burned per day).

Her total daily caloric deficit was therefore 1,020kcal.



As you can see, this lady has made some good progress and she is likely to be very pleased with her results. However there are a few issues:


1)      Total caloric intake has dropped by 849kcal per day.  This is a big difference and will have been difficult and unpleasant to maintain.

2)      After just 2 months this lady now has to eat 549kcal less than she originally was every single day just to maintain her bodyweight. This is approximately 22% less food than what she was eating before the diet just to stay the same.

3)      The large reduction in bodyweight in such a short period of time will inevitably lead to lean muscle mass wastage.  This will result in her burning approximately 40-50kcal less every single day for every lb of muscle mass lost (i.e. in this instance 200kcal). The loss in muscle mass may also lead to a loss of stability and strength around the joints which could lead to joint pains, back issues etc.

4)      This lady still has much body fat to lose yet calories have already dropped considerably. She now has less manoeuvring space and it is inevitable that she will eat more on some days due to the significant increase in food cravings as the body attempts to rebalance the weight lost.

5)      Hunger levels will drastically rise as the hormone ghrelin increases. Constant hunger will trigger low level stress hormone release, which will increase systemic inflammatory markers and could typically increase body fat around the midsection due to glucocorticoid receptor density in the area and cortisol’s effect on the fat-storing lipoprotein lipase.  Muscle loss is also accelerated as a result

6)      The lady may begin to feel the cold more and feel more tired than usual as a result of a drop in thyroid levels


Despite a few issues and hardship, let’s assume that this lady has greater willpower and drive than most and continues to diet for another 2 months. Let’s take a look to see what happens:

Subject A: 4 months into diet (decided to drop calories from 1,500kcal to 1,000kcal and exercise everyday – 3 attending aerobics classes, 3 dog walks and a 1 hour jog at the weekend)


Height: 5ft 4in

Weight: 12st 4lbs (another 10lbs lost)

Body fat: 34% (another 2% down)

Total calories required to maintain bodyweight:  1,500kcal (another 300kcal less)


Weight loss: 3lbs of body fat, 7lbs of muscle


During these two months she was in an 800kcal deficit from her dietary changes and also burnt an additional 1,995kcal per week from her exercise activities (an extra 285kcal burned per day).

Her total daily caloric deficit was therefore 1,085kcal.



This lady has now lost a further 10lbs in the last 2 months but 7lbs of that has come from muscle tissue. This lady is now burning another 350kcal less per day because of this muscle loss. She is eating 1,000kcal a day (1,500kcal less than day 1!) and is hungry, tired and run down.


A few things now start to take place:


1)      Survival mechanisms up-regulate to preserve fat stores, whilst preferentially burning vital lean muscle tissue for energy. Stubborn fat depositions won’t budge!

2)      This lady is tired and run down and on some days resorts to binging on junk foods to rebalance peaks and troughs in blood sugar and appetite.

3)      Serotonin levels in the brain drop and she is likely to experience depression, low mood and poor motivation.

4)      Thyroid output halves and this lady feels incredibly tired, cold and lethargic. Various tissues which interact with thyroid function are also compromised. This can literally influence everything because every cell in your body can be bound to T3 and T4.

5)      The lack of total calories may lead to nutrient deficiencies so hair begins to dry out, nails crack and skin noticeably worsens. Concentration levels drop and general work productivity and drive plummets. Work becomes hard, days become long and drawn out and mood swings may occur.

6)      Insomnia may kick in so despite feeling tired all the time, sleep becomes erratic and of poor quality. Due to depleted glycogen stores this person is losing water and is regularly dehydrated, leading to headaches and fatigue.

7)      Exercise quality rapidly diminishes and the lady has started to develop inflamed joints, sore knees and a painful back. As a consequence of having little energy and less muscle she is now burning far fewer calories during her workouts

8)       She now has less sex drive than a 90 year old nun.

9)      The thought of continuing this way of living is becoming very hard. Many social occasions involving food become awkward and the idea of leading a balanced life seems impossible for fear of gaining weight.

10)  This lady notices that even small influxes in calories lead to weight gain. Her body is a skinnier, yet fat version or her former self as she has not only failed to gain muscle but actively lost it.


This lady is now in trouble and cannot drop calories any lower. She has cornered herself and has nowhere to go but up with her daily caloric intake. She still has much body fat to lose but cannot go lower without endangering her health. If she creeps her calories up she only has to go up a couple hundred calories (not very much at all!) and the weight inevitably starts piling on.



After another 3 months the lady’s stats may now look like this:

Subject A: 7 months after starting the diet she has inevitably increased her calories back up to an average of 2,000kcal per day. She can no longer exercise as she has picked up various injuries.


Height:5ft 4in

Weight: 14st 5lbs

Body fat: 44%

Total calories required to maintain bodyweight:  1,900kcal


She is now 5lbs heavier than day one and her body fat is up by 4%.  Her body also now requires 349kcal less to maintain her bodyweight.


This is now a worse position than when she started.  She is heavier and carries more bodyfat as well as less muscle mass. If she were to diet again this situation could get worse still and is likely to resemble that of the person who only has to look at a doughnut and piles weight on.  As you can see, the more crash diets you undertake, the harder it will become to achieve the body you want.

Any of this sound familiar?

How do we solve this situation? How can we fix somebody in this position? The good news is that there are ways in which to reverse this damage and there are many healthier alternatives which will lead to long term, sustainable progress.  You have to be smart!


Watch out for the part 2 or email [email protected] to arrange a consultation or session to discuss our nutrition and weight loss strategies and programming.

Healthy eating – the simplest and most effective approach

The most effective diet is the one to which we are genetically adapted.  If we take a moment to consider our genetic evolution, it is clear that changes to the human diet have occurred far too quickly for the human genome to adapt.  We are genetically identical to our ancestors of 20,000+ years ago.  Our physiology is adapted to living as hunter gatherers for the 2 million years leading up to the agricultural revolution (the Palaeolithic era).


The first evidence of any sort of domestication of plants or animals comes from around 10,000 years ago.  Although this sounds like a long time ago, human history dates back 2.5 million years!  We have therefore been living as hunter gatherers for over 99.5% of our evolutionary history!  When you then consider the even more dramatic changes to our diets that have occurred in the last 200 years since the industrial revolution, it becomes clear that our genetic code is not suited to the way we now eat.


Anthropology research has shown us that our hunter gatherer ancestors were taller than we are and virtually free of tooth cavities and bone malformations.  Additionally, despite their lack of medical care, they experienced an extremely low rate of infant mortality.  Ancient tribes that continue to this day to eat a hunter gatherer-style diet do not suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.


Modern advances in medical care have given us the ability to treat trauma and infectious diseases, which has improved our life expectancy; however the interaction of our hunter gatherer genetic code with our modern lifestyle has led to an epidemic of chronic disease and obesity.  This can be largely attributed to the dramatic change in our diets over the last 200 years or so.


Before the development of agriculture, human diets would have been limited to unprocessed wild animal and plant foods.  Today cereal, refined sugars, refined vegetable oils, dairy products and alcohol make up over 70% of our diets!  The biggest contributor to obesity and chronic disease is arguably the increased consumption of sugar.  Research suggests that our hunter gatherer ancestors ate the equivalent of about 22 teaspoons of sugar per year.  Today the average person consumes 70kg of sugar per year!  These refined sugars are devoid of any vitamins or minerals, leaving us deficient in many.


Now onto the easy part: what constitutes a healthy diet?  Quite simply, a healthy diet should be composed of high quality proteins and fats (coming from meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil etc.) and lots of fruit and vegetables (they should make up the vast majority of your carbohydrate consumption).  Try to avoid grains (yes, even whole grains!), processed food and sugars, alcohol, and if trying to lose body fat, starches as well.  At first glance this may seem difficult; however there are thousands of great “Paleo” recipe books and websites to help get you going.  These are very straightforward guidelines and they will improve your health and body composition far more effectively and sustainably than any calorie restricted diet you may have followed.

Nutrition and the brain

The vast majority of people claim to fail their new lifestyle, nutrition and exercise regime because of a lack of will-power. They blame their “weak mind” for their failure or lack of progress. They eat really well for three days then have a big blow-out meal and fall off the wagon. “I just can’t resist those foods”, “I enjoy chocolate too much “. I hear it all the time.
It is true that some people naturally lack motivation and that certain people are inherently lazy, but what we must take into consideration is that the foods we eat determine our mind-set through the up-regulation and down-regulation of various hormones and neurotransmitters released in response to their consumption.
To put it simply: “what you eat will determine how you think”.
I don`t blame the vast majority of people for failing. I personally blame the overwhelming array of easy and desirable food choices: Pizza, sandwiches on the go, cereal for breakfast, sugar-saturated energy drinks, chocolate bars at the service station. It is staggering really. What most people do not understand is that these foods will pretty much kill your motivation, lower your mood and create a vicious circle of continual wrong decisions and bad judgement because of the interaction between these foods, your gut, your hormones and therefore your brain.
Most underestimate the influence gut health has on your entire body. The gut acts as a second brain and contains more neurons than your entire spinal cord which is linked directly to the brain (this in itself tells us something). The gut houses 70% or our entire immune system and is our largest exposure to the outside environment (the small intestine alone when stretched and flattened will cover an area larger than a tennis court). It is home to trillions of strains of beneficial bacteria which interact with our bodies in ways we could never have possibly imagined. It is here we produce the neurotransmitters which are released within nerve synapses, essentially determining and governing how and what we think.
Most of the neurotransmitters in our brain such as acetyl choline, GABA, serotonin etc. are produced in the gut and govern the ways in which we think and act. For example poor uptake of serotonin from the gut and between nerve synapses is associated with depression, which is why many people are prescribed SSRIs (antidepressants) to prolong serotonin exposure in the brain. Perhaps the rapid surge in antidepressant prescriptions is due to our poor nutrition? Science would certainly back this up as those with significantly elevated body fat levels are statistically more prone to depression. The human gut and brain are constantly communicating and relaying feedback via the vagus nerve and disruption at either end can affect the other. Researchers have even found that brain trauma has been associated with gut irritation and food intolerances.
Constantly bombarding the gut with sugars, alcohol, trans fatty acids, food allergens such as gluten and poor quality processed foods can interfere with the micro flora balance (gut bacteria) and can influence the production and exchange of neurotransmitters through the gut membrane which will influence uptake of various neurotransmitters in the brain. The body will respond to these harmful foods as a stressor and this can lead to a prolonged release of glucocorticoid hormones such as cortisol, which up-regulate centres of the brain responsible for food cravings and appetite. This leads us to make the wrong food choices and governs our desire for particular foods, particularly sweet tasting foods which raise blood sugar (this will also extend to savoury foods such as bread and crisps etc. which are converted to sugar in the body). This uncontrollable desire to eat sugar laden food is governed not by our will power, but through a hormonal response to the fallout from eating the “wrong foods”. This is why those participating in diets where the underlying principles involve eating what you want but in small quantities will ultimately fail, as they overlook the fact that these foods are hyperpalatable and override the body’s natural satiety signals, leading to uncontrollable eating.
One classic example is a typical bag of sweets. Most manufacturers claim that their bag of sweets will provide 6 whole separate servings. I don`t think I have ever seen somebody eat just a sixth of the packet and leave the rest. They eat the whole lot! That is because these foods interact with the opiate receptors on the brain and light up the feel-good, happy hormones. This is essentially how drug and alcohol addiction works. Food is no different!
The stress response inflicted upon the gut and its processing of these harmful foods will also induce oxidative damage, leading to an upsurge in insulin as well as blood pressure. The body is fairly efficient at avoiding the extremes of any kind of hormonal reaction, so the inhibitory (calming) hormones serotonin and GABA are released to down regulate this response. Over time the cells in your body which possess a receptor site for these types of neurotransmitters desensitize to their signalling actions, causing a type of cellular resistance. This means that the once-balanced effect of an up-regulation of stress via release of cortisol/adrenaline etc. and the subsequent release of inhibitory calming neurotransmitters is compromised. This allows excessive amounts of stress hormones to run rampant through the body leading to depression, anxiety, an inability to sleep, and poor concentration (among other things!). All of these factors will increase the likelihood of suffering from the vast majority of modern day diseases. This all comes about as a result of a high sugar, nutrient deficient diet. The good news is that a good diet and a smart approach can reverse this.
I will shortly be putting together a second article which will address ways in which to reverse these issues. Check back soon for part 2!

By David Cox

Cutting calories is not the best approach to eating for fat loss

I am not saying that calories in vs. calories out does not influence changes in body weight. What I am saying is that the process of purely reducing the number of calories you are allowed to eat each day is an inefficient way to get healthy and look better. It also has an extremely poor long-term success rate. In fact, a review of 31 studies looking at calorie restriction and weight loss in The American Psychologist found that as many as two thirds of dieters weighed more following their diet than they did at baseline! With a failure rate this high, why do people persist with this method?!

There are many reasons for this poor success rate. In this article I hope to explain a few of them. In my opinion, the primary reason these diets fail is because lowering calories lowers our metabolic rate. Eating less calories causes levels of certain hormones to drop (including testosterone, grehlin and thyroid hormones) and results in less calories burnt through the thermic effect of feeding. This all adds up to make us feel hungry and lethargic and predisposes us to gain fat as soon as we start eating a normal amount of food again! This is essentially what is going on with “yo-yo” dieters.

Purely cutting calories does not take into account the influence of the different macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrate). These different macronutrients have very different effects on our hormones and influence our metabolic rate (the amount of energy we burn at rest). For example, when we eat a diet high in carbohydrates, our bodies release higher levels of the hormone insulin. The presence of insulin puts us in a state of energy storage rather than energy mobilisation, so our bodies are receiving no signals to breakdown fat for energy. Looking now at metabolic rate, a diet high in protein has been shown to significantly increase the energy we burn at rest due to the thermic effect of feeding.

Another key critique of the calorie restriction diet is the effect it can have on eating patterns. When a person has a set allowance for calories for a given day, they have a tendency to save up their allowance in order to binge on things like chocolate and alcohol without failing their diet. It does not take a genius to realise that this is not conducive to healthy fat loss. Additionally, eating in this manner does not lend itself to maintaining stable blood sugar and appetite levels. It is much more difficult to make healthy choices when the hormones that regulate your appetite are all over the place.

If you are looking for a nutritional strategy that will enable you to lose body fat in a healthy manner and maintain that loss, purely cutting calories is probably not your best bet. Keep reading our blog for future posts detailing more effective strategies that can help you produce sustainable results.

Toby’s Supplements

Here is a quick blog post detailing the supplements used during Toby’s transformation.  Before you read on, please be aware that the outstanding results were predominantly down to a strict and consistent diet and an extremely intense and carefully programmed exercise regime.  In terms of supplements, we just stuck to the absolute basics…


Whey Protein

Whey protein shakes were taken post training only.  At all other times, adequate protein was obtained from whole foods in order to maximise the intake of micronutrients and fibre.


Essential Amino Acids

15g of EAAs were consumed before and during each training session to promote anabolism and a favourable hormonal environment for muscle gain.  Powdered EAAs were mixed in water and sipped before and throughout the workouts.


Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine has been proven to be the single most effective nutritional supplement for increasing high intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.  Following a loading phase, Toby took 5 grams per day.  On training days, this was added to his post workout shake.


Vitamin D

There is overwhelming scientific evidence supporting the use of vitamin D for optimal health, fat loss, muscle gain and performance enhancement.  Vitamin D deficiency is extremely prevalent, there are some quite dramatic statistics available!  Toby supplemented his vitamin D intake with 4,000 IUs each morning with breakfast.



Zinc plays a primary role in anabolic hormone production and insulin health.  Higher levels of testosterone and improved insulin sensitivity both contribute to lean muscle gain and fat loss.  Toby took 15mg of zinc citrate each morning.



Magnesium is another mineral that is chronically deficient in most people.  It has been linked with a whole host of health benefits.  Most important to us was improved sleep, testosterone output and protein synthesis.  Toby used magnesium oil before bed each night.


Fish Oil

Toby took high doses of fish oil daily to support healthy cell membranes and insulin sensitivity.  Fish oil is also thought to improve training focus, and reduce stress and inflammation.

Breakfast for optimal body composition

Toby has been training with us for six weeks and has achieved some impressive results so far.  The first alteration we made to his nutrition in order to achieve these dramatic improvements in his body composition was to completely change what he was eating for breakfast.


Unfortunately, the most common breakfast options in this country are cereal, toast and fruit juice.  If we look at the macronutrient breakdowns of these breakfast options, we see they are all low fat, low protein, and high carbohydrate.  This is the absolute opposite of what we need in the morning for optimal body composition.


We wake up in the morning in a fat burning state.  We have high levels of cortisol and growth hormone and low levels of insulin.  Our bodies are breaking down triglycerides into free fatty acids for metabolism (we are burning our body fat for energy!).  The last thing we need to do at this point is consume a large amount of carbohydrates.  What this does is raise insulin levels and shut down fat burning.  Some research shows that fat burning remains vastly reduced throughout the whole day as a result of this insulin spike.


Looking instead at what the body does need at this time, our focus switches to protein and “healthy” fats.  A high protein breakfast is very important because you need the amino acids to build and maintain muscle mass.  Additionally, it will make you feel fuller throughout the morning, stabilise blood sugar levels and increase your metabolic rate.  Consuming good sources of fat, contrary to popular belief, will actually aid fat loss rather than oppose it.  The body uses these fats to build hormones and lipid bilayers in cells.  The addition of coconut oil, which is high in medium chain triglycerides, has been shown to significantly increase our ability to utilise fat for fuel.


It is also useful to include a good source of fibre and antioxidants.  When training hard (and when you are not!) antioxidants are useful because they reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.  There is also research to suggest that they may protect us from disease and slow down ageing!    Fibre is important for bowel health and also contributes to blood sugar management and satiety.  Foods high in fibre and antioxidants, as an added health benefit, tend to have an alkaline effect on the body.


Taking all these points into consideration, Toby’s breakfasts was made up of the following components:


1.       A source of animal protein.

-E.g. eggs, ham, bacon, beef, any other meat.

2.       A source of healthy fats.

-E.g. coconut oil, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, cashew nuts, almonds.

3.       A source of fibre and antioxidants.

-E.g. green beans, broccoli, spinach, kale, asparagus, berries.

Four Simple and Effective Fat Loss Tricks

Several weeks ago I made a few deliberate alterations to my daily routine in an effort to reduce my body fat percentage while still eating for muscle gains.  The body is an extremely complex thing.  There are many more factors at play than just calories in and calories out when it comes to fat loss.  We also store fat in response to chronic stress, hormone imbalances, exposure to environmental toxins and anything else that contributes to systemic inflammation.  These are all things that we can minimise and avoid with small adjustments to the way we do things.  Here are four quick and easy changes I made which worked very quickly.

1.        Taking filtered water into work in glass bottles

I have a reverse osmosis water filter at home and have got into the habit of taking 2 litres into work with me each day.  Taking a known volume of water in allows me to keep track of my water intake and remain hydrated, which is important in order to maintain a high metabolic rate, among other things.  Additionally, tap water contains many toxins that are harmful to our health which the filter helps to eliminate.  I bought two large glass bottles in order to avoid storing it in plastic, which is known to contain a number of toxic chemicals (such as BPA, which mimics oestrogen).

2.        Wash all berries and vegetables prior to eating

My second change was to start washing all the fruit and vegetables I consume to remove any chemicals (toxic pesticides and herbicides etc.) still on their surface.  These chemicals are also often sources of xenoestrogens.  They can cause increases in fat storage through many methods, such as reducing insulin sensitivity and negatively effecting thyroid metabolism.

3.        Drink water with breakfast instead of fruit juice

I have been a strong advocate of a low carbohydrate, high protein, high fat breakfast for some time (favouring meat, eggs, nuts etc. over cereal and toast).  However I have only recently stopped having my glass of fruit juice.  A glass of fruit juice typically contains around 20 grams of sugar, making the low carb breakfast no longer low carb!  Eliminating this fruit juice will therefore promote stable blood sugar and fat oxidation throughout the morning.

4.        Keep a notebook by your bed

I identified that when I cannot get to sleep, I tend to be thinking a lot.  Writing down my ideas allows me to forget about them and relax, which in turn helps me fall asleep.  Acute sleep deprivation decreases the body’s insulin sensitivity, leading to elevated blood sugar.  This puts us in a state in which we are more likely to store fat than burn fat.


Top 4 Common Mistakes Made When Losing Body Fat

1>     Relying too heavily on aerobic training


Despite aerobic training being one of the most popular types of training (i.e. marathon running, jogging, cycling etc.), research has proven countless times that aerobic training is an inferior way of losing body fat when compared to high intensity interval training or resistance training.  Countless trainers and trainees have adopted aerobic training as a tool help to lose excess body fat, and this is a common error.  It is true that aerobic training burns a higher percentage of fat as an energy substrate during exercise, but the total fat breakdown during training and post training is extremely low. Aerobic training is also catabolic by nature (meaning that it burns muscle tissue) which leads to a reduction in resting metabolic rate and thyroid function, and can contribute to a loss of strength and various other negative factors. Consistent aerobic training will make your body more efficient at preserving energy which is the total opposite to what you wish to achieve when training for fat loss.

For superior fat burning results, opt for intense bursts of near maximal effort followed by low level recovery.  An example of this would be a 30 second sprint proceeded by a 60 second easy walking recovery.  You could then repeat this between 5 and 10 times.  More results in less than half the time.  What is not to like?


2>     Following a low fat diet


Due to the irresponsible marketing of low fat products and dietary regimes, many are led to believe that a low fat diet is necessary to lose body fat.  Once you understand the importance fat plays in hormone regulation you will realise that this is a major mistake.  All of the cells in your body are composed of fatty acids, such as Omega 3, including brain tissue and immune cells, which regulate and manage key hormones such as progesterone and testosterone.  These key sex hormones balance the effects of other vital hormones such as Insulin and oestrogen, which can contribute to excess body fat.  Low fat diets also contribute to insulin resistance, because of the increased appetite, and therefore consumption of carbohydrate-rich food (namely sweet food).  High consumption of these foods manipulates the way in which blood glucose reacts with various cell types.  Over time a high blood sugar/repeated insulin release will blunt the ability of glucose to enter your muscle cells.  This can increase the likelihood of diabetes and metabolic type diseases including cancer cells which multiply at a fast rate under high insulin loads.  This explains how some people can eat very little but still struggle to lose any fat.  It is typically because of poor quality foods as opposed to an excessive number of calories.   If glucose is unable to enter muscle tissue or liver glycogen stores, your body may create new fat cells where this glucose could be stored as fat. This is made worse by consumption of low fat products which are excessively high in sugar (Cue Weightwatcher meals, slim fast etc.). Aim for plenty of nuts, seeds, oilve oil, coconut oil , avocado, oily fish and  moderate consumption of animal fats. Not all fats are so beneficial to human health so make extra effort to avoid trans fats (found in cakes, biscuits, baked goods, processed foods etc.), vegetable oils, nut oils and excess intake of saturated fats.  Please note that eradicating all saturated fats is actually a bad idea (another post to follow).


3>     Eating poor quality food for breakfast


Everyday breakfast cereals such as Special K, Weetabix, coco pops, shredded wheat etc. contain exceptionally low quantities of nutrients.  Refined grains/cereals are a poor source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals to such an extent that the government passed a law during the 1970s which required manufacturers to add artificial B vitamins to the cereal grains because of population nutrient deficiencies.  Around 16 nutrients are removed during the refining process but only 5-6 nutrients are added back (these are artificial).  I found a packet of Cornflakes the other day with added vitamin D advertised on the front. They contained 25 IU of Vitamin D per serving which to the average person could seem a fair amount.  This is far from the truth as studies report we need between 2000—5000 IU of vitamin D per day for optimal health. This is another example of clever marketing which cereal companies are renowned for (sorry to disappoint you folks, Coco pops is not a rich source of B vitamins despite what Kellogg’s might say).

Common breakfast foods such as cereals, orange juice, toast etc. chronically elevate blood sugar and increase insulin which increases the rate of fat storage.  Some cereals, such as Cornflakes and Rice Crispies, can actually act like pure granulated sugar and are broken down at the same rate, creating massive surges of energy followed by a major energy slump (typically during the mid-morning break when your colleagues bring out the Krispy Kreme doughnuts).  Opt for nutrient dense foods such as eggs, berries, nuts, fish (Kippers, sardines, Salmon), good quality meats, Greek yoghurt etc.  Think outside the box (pun intended!).


4>     Disregarding digestive health


I personally believe this to be one of the biggest factors in ill health, appetite dysregulation, obesity and just about every disease known to man.  Our national love for sugar-based snacks, processed foods, calorie-dense meals, high stress jobs and foods with little to no nutrients etc. has thrown our gut ecology out of balance.  This is known as gut dysbiosis and is a leading cause of many debilitating conditions such as gastro intestinal disease, acid reflux, heartburn, constipation and IBS to name a few.  This means that our bodies will struggle to extract the nutrients from our food because of poor digestion.

Bad bacteria, which would otherwise be destroyed by sufficient stomach acid levels, is allowed to thrive, which can increase cravings for sugary foods and can decrease production of various neurotransmitters such as serotonin (a deficiency of which can cause depression). Gut dysbiosis can also adversely influence immune function, which can lead to increased inflammation in the body thus create a stress hormone response which increases the likelihood of metabolic dysfunction. To combat this common situation, ensure that you consume an adequate variety of nutritionally dense foods such as Garlic, onion, vegetables, fermented foods, live yoghurts, grass fed meats, fruits, nuts and seeds etc……  These amazing foods supply our body with the necessary nutrients, enzymes, and pro and pre biotic bacteria, which keep our gut ecology healthy and balanced.  If you wish to take this a step further, consider supplementing with HCl, digestive enzymes or probiotics such as acidophilus or create your own live cultures such as Kefir and Sauerkraut.


By David Cox