Are you working hard in the gym 3 times a week, eating sensibly but still struggling to lose that weight or change your body shape?
Have you previously lost weight by starting to exercise and watching what you eat, only to continue gaining fat despite sticking to your programme?
If this sounds familiar, there are a couple of things you should take a closer look at?
1.The components of your exercise programme
2.What you are eating
Ensuring you have the right components in your exercise programme is vital - it is very common to begin an exercise programme and start watching what you eat and find that you do lose weight. This is often because you are managing and manipulating the calorie deficit in your body and the immediate increased demands will cause you to lose weight initially as the body has to find the energy to meet the added demand. However in the long term you must ensure you maintain & even increase muscle mass in your body to keep your metabolism higher and not just increase the duration of exercise to try and burn more calories. For more information about the right combination of cardio and resistance training take a look at my article "The right combination for weight loss".
When it comes to nutrition, you're probably (and quite rightly) concerned with managing your calorie intake to lose weight or change your body shape. However, it is also worth taking a look at what your diet consists of as well as how much you are eating. And I don't just mean ensuring you are eating enough fruit & vegetables.
There are a number of foods that actually take more from your body than they provide - I call these 'nutrient robbers'. By this I mean that the effort to digest, absorb, metabolise and eliminate such foods actually require more nutrients than they ultimately provide the body with.
If this is the case, what you are feeding your body depletes it of more than you give it and can cause your body to behave like you are actually on a diet, going into survival mode in order to cope with the demands of processing such foods.
In other words, your body will hang on to all the energy and nutrients it thinks it's going to need to process the foods it will be receiving - in much the same way that it hangs onto energy (fat) & nutrients when you starve your body or go on a diet because it never knows when it will get adequate nutrition.
Some examples of nutrient robbers are:
? Fast foods & takeaways
? Fizzy drinks
? Sports Bars
? A large number of the whey protein shake mixes and protein powders
? Most canned foods, particularly canned fruits in syrup
? Anything cooked or prepared in a microwave
? 99 percent of all packaged foods. This includes any commercially processed grain products, such as pastas, breads (white is the worst) and cereal bars
? Most processed sandwich meats; many of them have both gluten and sugar added to them as fillers, plus the use of synthetic fillers.
? All packaged dessert foods, such as donuts, biscuits (unless made from organic whole-foods) and ice cream.
Therefore, if the majority of your diet consists of these foods, you will rapidly drop to the point at which you have calories, but inadequate nutrition in your body to process them, thus nutritionally you are starving.
In health & fitness terms, this is vital because your body needs all sorts of nutrients to function efficiently and effectively - all the more so when you are working out three times a week.
Some examples of how nutrients can help your body cope with the demands of working out:
? Proteins help the muscles repair themselves more quickly
? Calcium is vital for normal muscle contractions
? Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, which possibly helps reduce tissue damage
? Iron in haemoglobin is essential for carrying oxygen to the working muscles
So if you are nutritionally starving because your diet consists of mostly nutrient robbers, then your body will struggle to function efficiently and effectively even at rest, yet alone when you put it through an hour long workout 3 times a week.
Therefore if you are exercising regularly, watching what you eat but still not achieving your weight loss or body shaping goals, then take a look at what you're eating and make sure you're not starving yourself of vital nutrients.
Lea Woodward is a qualified personal trainer and director of activOne ltd in the UK. activOne provides personal training, diet & nutrition advice and massage therapy to private clients & corporate wellbeing services in the UK as well as virtual training to clients worldwide. Check out my website http://www.activone.co.uk
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