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