The Most Common Lifestyle Goals and Strategies and tips to achieve them


Today, I want to chat anecdotally about two common lifestyle goals that I encounter regularly and the specific strategies that seem to work best to help clients achieve them.
I) Leaning out/Burning fat/Losing weight

It is critical for health & longevity not to have too much excess weight on your frame & especially around your mid-section (abdominal/visceral adiposity). Of course, weight is not the major consideration, we need to focus on our body composition vs. just weight, since muscle carries more water and therefore weighs more vs. fat.  Of course location of fat accumulation is also important. Specifically, fat deposited on the hips & butt although confidence shaking is not a health threat vs. that deposited around the liver and other organs within the omentum, which is often reflected in abdominal circumference and importantly is beneath the abdominal muscles.  This is metabolically active fat and has been shown to secrete estrogen and other hormones that stimulate further fat deposition & gum up normal metabolic functioning (i.e. fat infiltration into the liver causing insulin resistance, elevated portal blood pressure, etc…).  Obviously, eliminating this if you have it is the first and most important goal.  Often ideal body composition numbers are stated as 8-13% body fat for men and 11-18 % body fat for women.

Specific Strategies that seem to work:
1)      Nutrition:
          Try eliminating grains, legumes & dairy for 60 days and see what happens.
          Limit your intake of available (non-fiber) carbohydrates to around 100 g/day or less.
          Focus on filling half your plate with low carb vegetables (green leafy, onions, mushrooms, cruciferous, etc…).
          If you have metabolic derangement (& central adiposity), limit your fruit intake to less than 2 servings per day.
          Consume most of your available carbohydrates as safe starches (i.e. sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, squash, etc…) and do so in the 4 hours post workout for that day.
          Adequate fluid daily – 3-5 L/day on average, but will vary.  Use urine color as a guide – optimal = light yellow.
–     Adequate & high quality proteins (grass fed meats, oily fish, free range poultry & eggs). 
–     Adequate & mostly anti-inflammatory fats (i.e. avocado, olives, coconuts, macadamia and hazelnuts and their oils & butters).
Biggest mistake: People tend to over restrict their calories and that leads to burnout & the body activating famine resistance genes that act to re-establish homeostasis (balance). This is often described as lethargy, insatiable hunger and of course irritability.
2)      Exercise:
          Every day do something (low intensity steady state) LISS – could be walking, jogging or hiking. Depends on your usual daily level of activity.
          2-3 times per week – Lift Heavy Things – resistance training including weights, resistance bands, body weight activities to stimulate muscle growth, retention and bone reformation. This will help maintain your muscle mass.
          Once per week – Move as fast as you can, using High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – Ex. wind sprints – lightly walk/jog for about 5 minutes to warm up, then HIIT IT! Sprint as fast as you can for 10-20 seconds. Stop and walk (slow) for 2 minutes then REPEAT x 4-6 times. In total you will perform very intense work output but for only about 50-120 seconds total, split over a total workout time of 15 minutes.
Biggest mistake:It’s a tie between two.  One, people tend to overdo their volume and intensity of exercise and as a result trigger high cortisol levels that can actually keep us fat! Two, people will ingest high carbohydrate (sugary) post workout supplements to “replenish” after workouts, but we normally don’t need high sugar, so all this does is increase insulin levels, which stop fat burning!
3)      Psychology:
          Making goal public – sharing with like-minded supportive individuals = greatest odds for success.
          Plan out your behaviors on a weekly & daily basis in a check list format & check off each behavior, as you accomplish it each day.  This essentially provides a step by step map to your goal!
II) Athletic Performance

Many people are more motivated by competition and achieving a performance based goal vs. leaning out, etc…  This could be a new PR on different Crossfit or Power or Olympic lifting maneuvers or just participating in competitive sports. For most strength, power and endurance based activities a lower carbohydrate nutrition protocol (i.e. ketosis) is adequate, but performance is often boosted or optimized in these events by increasing carbohydrate intake above ketosis levels (>100g).  And in the case of glycolytically demanding sports (i.e. Crossfit, Military training, MMA, Boxing, etc…), it is absolutely necessary to provide adequate carbohydrates, especially in the post workout window (i.e. around 4 hours or so) to replace used up muscle glycogen, which is required for these specific activities.  
Specific Strategies that seem to work:
1)      Nutrition (relative to Leaning out section):
          Try eliminating grains, legumes & dairy for 60 days and see what happens.
          Eat carbohydrate amounts for your exercise volume and type.  For strength and endurance activities you can continue your intake of available (non-fiber) carbohydrates around 100 g/day, but for glycolytically demanding activities (listed above), you might need to increase to between 100 – 150 g /day.
          Focus on filling half your plate with low carb vegetables (green leafy, onions, mushrooms, cruciferous, etc…).
          If you have metabolic derangement
(& central adiposity), limit your fruit intake to less than 2 servings per day.
          Consume most of your available carbohydrates as safe starches (i.e. sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, squash, etc…) and do so in the 4 hours post workout for that day.
          Adequate fluid daily – 3-5 L/day on average, but will vary.  Use urine color as a guide – optimal = light yellow.
–     Adequate & high quality proteins (grass fed meats, oily fish, free range poultry & eggs).
–     Adequate & mostly anti-inflammatory fats (i.e. avocado, olives, coconuts, macadamia and hazelnuts and their oils & butters). 
Biggest mistake:People tend to over restrict their calories and their carbs & this leads to burnout and inhibits performance.
2)      Exercise:
          Since you are performance based, your activity will be contributing to your sport performance. Discuss with a certified, intelligent & competent trainer what exercises will best achieve this!
          You will undoubtedly have a high volume of intense work in the area of your sport, so possibly work some strength training & low intensity work outside of that to minimize the stress on your body.  Again, discuss with a certified, intelligent & competent trainer.
Biggest mistake: Over training over and above a sports training protocol. This leads to either burnout, stress out or injury more often than not.
3)      Psychology:
          Be aware of dependency on wins for self-confidence – be sure to be okay with achieving a new personal best vs. beating everyone else in your group, etc… This frees you from stress hormone cascades that occur from not winning.
          Get counsel from a certified and competent trainer with knowledge of your sport who can advise you as to psychological principles that can help give you an edge to be able to achieve your specific goals.

Till next time!  Whatever your goal is, hopefully these tips will help you achieve it!

Dietitian Dan T

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