Many of us try to lose weight to improve our appearance, however we are also doing our health a big favour. Being overweight significantly increases our risk of developing several serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, back pain and problems with weight-bearing joints.
We will help you to lose weight sensibly and we will also help you to understand why you are doing what you are doing. There are many different weight loss diets and systems, and we can learn many things from the best of them. Unfortunately, rapid weight loss diets contain within themselves the seeds of their own failure.
We will show you how to put together healthy meals (and snacks, if necessary) that will not only help you lose weight, they will help you to become healthier in body and mind.
We will help you to make Intelligent Nutritional choices by understanding why you are doing what you are doing. We believe that the more reasons you have for doing something, the more likely you are to make better dietary choices more frequently. You will learn about different food groups, how the body digests, absorbs and utilises them and how they affect your metabolism and mood.
Sensible weight (fat) loss
Sensible weight loss is about knowing how much weight you can lose each week without it affecting your metabolism and without losing muscle mass or other non-fat tissue such as bone mineral. Unfortunately, these are the types of problems encountered with ‘quick result’ weight loss diets. When people seek rapid results there is usually a cost, not only to their pockets.
Sensible weight loss is really sensible fat loss. It’s about finding a way of eating that is enjoyable and easy, without the feelings of deprivation that even the word ‘diet’ seems to conjure up. This new, healthy approach to eating shoud become a way of life.
Most diets have to stop sometime because they are so restrictive. They are not a ‘normal’ way to live short-term, let alone long-term! When someone (sooner usually rather than later) reverts to their old habits, they should not be surprised that the weight piles on, often more quickly than before, because their metabolism, that is the rate at which their body burns calories, has slowed down by their dieting (food deprivation). We will help you to understand how to avoid this scenario.
It is possible to reduce your calorie intake without really noticing or missing them, without feeling the gnawing hunger and mood swings that accompany many diets.
Not all calories are equal
The three food groups in our diet are protein (4 kcal/g), carbohydrates (4 kcal/g) and fats (9 kcal/g). As you can see fats contain more than double the amount of energy of carbohydrates and protein foods.
The energy content of foods (calories or joules) is measured by burning the food to crispy blackness in something called a bomb calorimeter. The idea being to measure accurately the total energy stored in the particular food being tested. My first point, ahem… is that the human body is nowhere near this efficient (if you hadn’t noticed). My second is that our bodies are much more intelligent about the way they treat different foods. Protein foods, like chicken or fish, for example are used to repair and build body tissue, not for their energy/calorie content. In other words, having the calorie content of protein foods on a packet is complete nonsense, and it is misleading.
Carbohydrate foods all have an energy value of around 4 kcal/g. Bread, pasta, rice, potato, even the carbohydrate in berries and jelly babies. However, the impact they have on our blood sugar is vastly different. Pause for a moment. Doesn’t our body run on blood sugar rather than calories? Wouldn’t this then be a far more accurate way to classify carbohydrates?
The next revelation is that the main hormone responsible for storing fat in the human body is insulin. Fortunately for us insulin is the easiest hormone to control through our diet.
So we have it. Having protein and carbohydrate calories listed on packaging is at worst misleading nonsense, and at best vague. We are left are with fats, the most energy dense of our food groups. Putting aside for a moment that there are different types of fat (from the essential to the hydrogenated), the sensible place to start is to reduce fat intake (by calories or weight) and to control our blood sugar better.
Fats: the good, the bad and the ugly
There are different kinds of fats in our diet, some are good and some are not. We will help you to differentiate between them. Cutting down on all fats is not a good idea, if you are interested in maintaining your health. You would just have become the latest victim of the “epidemic of essential fat deficiency” seen in Western countries today.
While you are losing weight (fat) we will help you to differentiate between the good (essential) fats, the bad (undesirable fats) and the ugly fats, like trans fats, which you really should be trying to avoid.
You can lose excess body fat while tackling health problems, niggling or otherwise, that you may have. You will see the weight loss you desire much sooner by combining appropriate eating (diet) with appropriate exercise.
The smart way to exercise is to do it in such a way that helps you to lose body fat faster. For example, when you exercise it has a stimulating effect on your metabolism that lasts until you go to sleep at night. So, the earlier in the day you exercise the more hours you have this benefit of faster metabolism. That means that you could be burning calories at a slightly faster rate all day long! The really great thing about this is that you don’t need to spend an hour in the gym to receive this benefit. A 15-20 minute brisk walk or the equivalent will do it.
The other smart thing to do is some exercise that will stimulate muscle growth, because muscle is the most metabolically active tissue (the fastest calorie burner) on your body.
In the context of weight loss, your metabolism is the rate at which you burn calories. So, someone with a high metabolic rate will burn calories faster, and be leaner (and probably be eating more), than someone with a slower metabolic rate.
There are several ways to stimulate or maintain your metabolism: exercising early in the day, exercising to stimulate muscle growth, eating regular meals through the day so that you blood sugar is stable, and not missing meals, particularly breakfast. These are the most important.
Your thyroid gland makes the hormones that regulate your metabolism. Thyroid hormones are like your body’s thermostat. You can read more about thyroid hormones and testing them on the Laboratory Tests page.
Micronutrients are vitamins, minerals and essential fats. They are termed ‘essential’ when we cannot manufacture them, and we have to have them in our diet. One important role that many different micronutrients are needed for is to help the enzymes that convert carbohydrates and fats into energy.
These enzymes often need specific vitamins and minerals (cofactors) nearby in order to work properly. If we are not getting enough of even a single vitamin or mineral in our diet, needed by these enzymes, they will not be able to work to their full potential and our metabolism will be impaired. This means that we will not burn calories as fast as we could.
At Intelligent Nutrition we will help you to determine whether your metabolism is being impaired by micronutrient insufficiency (or deficiency) and what to do about it.
The Nutrition Clinic, Leeds
Although we are based in Leeds, we see clients from all over Yorkshire including Harrogate, York, Bradford, Huddersfield, Halifax, Wakefield and much further afield. For those living too far to travel we also offer telephone consultations.