D. Love, Tribal Coach Extraordinaire

Our members at Tribal Fitness have many different goals, to get stronger, move without pain, live a long and healthy life. But many also have a goal to lose weight or “tone up” (to “tone” you need toactually have muscle underneath the fat, so when you do lose the fat you can see the muscle “tone”). Due to most individuals living an inactive lifestyle, eating calorie loaded convienence foods that are nutrient sparse, we see more people carrying probably a little more fat than their body needs. We certainly don't need much fat to keep us warm in Bahrain!

Today's article isn't about fat, it's about finding balance in our diet. Learn what works for you and how you can manage it over the long term. When we get the energy balance right and understand what works for our individual needs then you have the power to gain, maintain or lose weight. Unfortunately, fat gets a pretty bad rap and I don't want to bash it completely because it' actually very important for us. It is used as an energy store and helps with hormone production, so we should have some of it on our bodies. Ladies also tend to hold more fat than men due to our baby producing capabilities, so ladies quit moaning about your curvey bits and embrace them! 

WHAT IS ENERGY BALANCE?

Energy Balance is when the energy we consume from food and drink matches the energy our body puts out. 60-70% of the energy used in our body is from the functioning of our vital organs, this is also known as our basal metabolic rate (BMR). 10% of energy used is from digesting, absorbing and storing food, and the final 20-30% of energy is physical activity.

THE BASIC SEQUENCE

When the energy we take in matches the energy we put out, we will stay the same weight.  When our output is higher than our input we will be in an energy deficit and loose weight.  The opposite of this is also true, if input is larger than output, we will gain weight.

HOW MUCH SHOULD I EAT?

This varies from person to person and factors such as gender, genes, age, lifestyle and physical activity make a huge difference to each individual. Firstly you need to think about your goals. Secondly you need to be aware of what and how much fuel you are consuming. There are a few different techniques that you can use, some (including myself) choose to track their calories and macro-nutrients daily via a free app called My Fitness Pal, others choose to use a food diary and some use amounts dictated by hand size (and some don't us anything at all!)

They all have positives and negatives, the one thing they all do is make you aware of what and how much your eating. A very simple way to build your plate is to use your hands as a guide and work from there, see below for examples of men's (left image) and women's plates (info graph from Precision Nutrition):

Men and women, depending on activity level can eat 3-4 of these meals per day. I feel I must note many people's plates don't typically look like those above. Many have more processed food choices which can increase the calorie content of the meal. One thing we should really avoid is eating less than our BMR, this can have negative effects on the body and do long term damage.

HOW MUCH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY SHOULD I BE DOING?

Again this varies with each individual depending on their goals. The best thing you can do is something you can stick to and that you enjoy. Even if your not feeling 100%, get to your session because it's the habit that will help you succeed.  Most of our members train three times a week and I believe this is and adequate amount for those looking to be fit and healthy. On top of this we should move daily; gardening, walking, swimming, bike riding, etc to name a few.

I AM DOING IT ALL BUT STILL NOT LOSING WEIGHT OR INCHES?!

Well then there could be a few things to think about:

  • Maybe you’re moving too little
  • Maybe you’re eating to much
  • You could have underlying health conditions (in my experience pretty uncommon)
  • You're a saint during the week and a sinner on the weekend
  • You're just not working hard enough

EAT NATURALLY

If you don't want to increase your physical activity (especially if it is not sustainable) then I suggest looking at the quality of your food first, and then the quantity. The more processed food in your diet, generally the more calories. So go back to your natural food choices and I guarantee you will have plenty to eat.

MOVE MORE

Increase your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). You can do this by moving more in day to day life. Taking the stairs, walk more, park further from shops, get a dog, or use an activity tracker to track daily steps and look to increase your current volume.

PLAN AND BE CONSISTENT

If it's the weekend that trips you up, then you have a few options, plan your weekend before it gets here.  If you are going out to eat, choose the better option on the menu. You could eat a slightly smaller breakfast and lunch to help balance out the day, whichever you choose, be conscious of what you are eating.

WORK HARDER

Growth is uncomfortable, to get to a stage you haven't before usually means change or growth. So get your head down and work. Work harder in your Tribal Sessions, cut out the crap food, drink more water and get to bed earlier.

WHAT ABOUT ALL THE DIETS OUT THERE? WHY DO THEY START OUT SO SUCCESSFUL?

Many diets cut out food groups which in turn reduce the amount of calories consumed (remember energy balance? Less input = weight loss). Cutting out food groups e.g. carbohydrates isn't usually sustainable, especially if you exercise. A better choice would be to reduce the amount of carbohydrate and chose a more natural source.

WHAT IF I AM INJURED OR BUSY AND CAN'T TRAIN?

Life happens sometimes and rather than add stress to our busy lifestyles, simply adjust your diet slightly to make up for the movement you are not doing. This can be done by having slightly less carbohydrate(rice, pasta, bread) in your dinner for example or removing any desserts you might be having that week.

HOW CAN I GO OUT TO DINNER AND STILL EAT HEALTHY?

Have a look at the menu before hand, most restaurants have their menus online now. If you don't get the chance to see a menu, pick the best option, restaurants love to put bread on the table, simply ask your waiter to remove the basket. Ask to have the sauce or dressing on the side, and ask to share the rice/pasta/noodle serving.

ARE CARBS REALLY THAT BAD?

Certainly not, but most people eat way too many! I don't mean veggies and fruit, I mean bread/rice/pasta/cereal/noodles! They are more calorie dense than fruits and vegetables and very easy to eat a lot of. Follow the above steps and adjust accordingly.

I LOVE DESSERT, DOES THIS MEAN I CAN'T HAVE IT ANYMORE?

Yes and no, many desserts are enormous. If I was to have dessert out at dinner I would make the decision not to have a starter and would have possibly had a smaller lunch. So you need to think about the dessert in context with your day, how much have you eaten, have you moved enough? Another option is to share it with a friend. Remember, having the dessert could possibly hinder your progress, if you can accept that, go ahead and eat it and enjoy it!

To wrap everything up; move every day, exercise a few times a week doing something you enjoy. Keep your main meals filled with natural ingredients, plan your week ahead so the best choices can be made in those hungry moments. Be consistent. Move more if you need to or eat less. Keep it simple and stress free.