There's a thin line between success and failure.
I'm sure you've heard that expression before...but why am I saying it now. Well through my own personal experience and through working with my clients there is usually a week, at some point in the weight loss journey, where the scales has led to disappointment. Now I don't mean because of a holiday, where we can easily gain a few pounds, or because of a blow out and we knew full well that we hadn't had a healthy week. What I'm talking about is a week, where we genuinely felt that we'd eaten well, we'd resisted all temptations but still we didn't lose weight. "What? ... Why? ... But I was so good!" These are the words used to express the sheer disbelieve when the numbers don't go the direction we had so eagerly anticipated. Thankfully, both through my nutrition training and personal experience, I am able to shine a light on some of the reasons why this might be and I'd like to share some of these with you now.
Reason No. 1
Healthy food doesn't always mean it encourages weight loss.
In fact some very healthy foods can cause weight gain. Take for example grapes or pineapple. With my nutrition hat on I really don't want to say anything bad about any fruit or vegetable. They are packed with phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibre...but...with my weight loss coaching and low GL knowledge I know that these two fruits need to be closely monitored. As a snack, 10 grapes should be your quota or 80g of pineapple. It seems bizarre but both these fruits are considered to have a high glycemic load. In other words they contain a fair bit of fast releasing sugar which will result in a blood sugar spike, if you eat a lot of them. The problem is they are so light and taste so good that you can easily eat a lot without even noticing. Replace them with low glycemic load fruits like blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, plums or raspberries and you can eat a whole lot more without the blood sugar spike and the inevitable weight storing episode afterwards.
Reason No. 2
Low fat foods are often high sugar foods.
Part of my role as a nutrition and weight loss coach is to educate my clients and help them get up to speed with the latest research in the area of health and nutrition. We've had over 30 years of hearing fat is bad for us, eating fat will make us fat, fat will clog your arteries and cause heart disease... and so on. This message has been so widely spread and so well engrained that its hard for us to shake. Now I don't completely disagree. There is evidence that eating a diet high in saturated fat promotes insulin resistance and that eating damaged fats, like trans fats or hydrogenated fats, is very unhealthy. The big problem comes when people try to avoid fat and as a result end up eating more SUGAR. I also don't agree with avoiding good fats because of their high calorific content. I'm talking about avocados, olives, oily fish, nuts and seeds. These contain the essential fats that our bodies need to be healthy...for better concentration and memory...for better hair and skin...for better mood...for better everything really seeing as every cell in our body needs these essential fats. So although I explain this to my clients on week 1 of any programme it can take a few weeks to sink in as the low fat / low calorie message is so well engrained in our society. Therefore the "but I've been so good" comment might actually mean "but I've been eating low fat crisps instead of high calorie nuts" or "but I've been eating low fat fruit yogurt, rice cakes and fruit". On the surface it all sounds sensible but the science is showing us that the opposite is happening. We've had the low fat message for over 30 years and we've gotten heavier and heavier as a western world. Why?...because its all about sugar. Added sugar, natural sugar, hidden sugar. It doesn't matter its all sugar.
Reason No. 3
Lack of variety.
Now I will admit I've yet to find out exactly why this is but it happens time and time again. If someone is losing weight from eating certain foods they repeat the exact same meal plan week after week and they just stop losing weight. There are a few plausible explanations for this. The first being we develop food intolerances to the foods we are over exposed to. It is very difficult to lose weight when we are eating foods we are intolerant to. This doesn't happen that quickly though. It can take a lot of over exposure before an intolerance starts. Another possible cause and one that I'm leaning towards being the more likely cause is that our bodies have figured out exactly how to metabolise those particular foods without having to eat into our energy reserves i.e. our fat stores. Just because you want to shed your fat stores doesn't mean your body does too. In fact your body is hanging onto that fat in case of a famine so it doesn't want to part with them unnecessarily. Varying our diet, as much as possible, will help us avoid getting food intolerances, avoid getting bored and help us to lose weight. Ideally eat something different every day for 3 days before you start to repeat foods.
Reason No. 4
You've gained muscle.
When you stand on a scale you are not just measuring fat. You're measuring bone, muscle, water, subcutaneous fat, visceral fat and everything in between. If you've started exercising, especially resistance type exercise, you may have started to build muscle. This is a good thing. Muscle is our most metabolically active tissue and ultimately helps us burn excess fat. If you lose a pound of fat and gain a pound of muscle your weight will remain the same but your body composition has changed. You are now leaner and healthier. You should celebrate not get disheartened. To help clients see their results in more that just numbers on a scale I often ask them to take a belt and mark a notch on it so that they can see the inch loss even if the scales isn't showing a weight loss.
Reason No. 5
You're not eating enough.
For many the "move more eat less" mantra is going around and around in our heads as being the best way to lose fat. I'm afraid its just not true. If you starve your body you will slow down your metabolism. You may lose weight but the weight you will lose will be muscle, not fat, as your body tries to slow down your metabolic rate to conserve energy and function on this low calorie diet. Eating low Glycemic load foods regularly (every 3-4 hours) will help encourage fat burning and eating protein with your meals and snacks will help ensure you don't lose muscle as you lose weight.
To highlight how thin the line between success and failure might really be I've shared a fat storing day vs a fat burning day below:
Breakfast - A 30g bowl of Cornflakes and a glass of orange juice
Snack: Two rice cakes
Lunch: A low fat fruit yogurt, 2 Ryevita with low fat mayo and your choice of toppings.
No afternoon snack as I'm trying to be good :-)
Dinner: A baked potato, carrots, parsnips and chicken
Snack: a 20g bag of popcorn
Looks healthy right?...unfortunately you'd be wrong... the above day scores over 100 on the glycemic load scale. In order to lose weight you need to eat 45GL a day or less. To maintain your weight a target of 70GL so this 100GL day will result in fat storage.An example of a good day is below:
Breakfast: 90g Porridge, grated apple, flaxseed
Snack: 2 oat cakes and hummus
Lunch: A wholemeal wrap with chicken, pesto, cheese, tomato and mixed leaf salad
Snack: A pear and 5 almonds
Dinner: A low GL Spaghetti Bolognese made with wholegrain pasta
Snack: 2 squares of dark chocolate.
Now you wouldn't starve eating like that, would you? Your energy levels would soar and the weight would effortlessly fall off you. Now of course you'd need to mix it up and don't eat the same thing everyday but it really goes to show the thin line between success and failure may just be down to the amount of sugar your inadvertently eating.
If you'd like to learn how to follow a Low GL diet then please get in touch and we can educate, motivate and coach you to lose weight and gain energy. We offer Zest4life nutrition and weight loss programmes in group coaching or as 1:1 individual coaching.
Thanks for reading.
Nutrition and Weight loss Coach 0872477935