Amino Acids 101, Complete Protein Sources and Building a Vegetarian Diet

I have previously discussed building an omnivore diet, this includes information around calculating your calorific requirements based on your goals. This part of the post is also important for the vegetarian diet so I recommend you go read the first few sections of that post. Here is an easy link:

Building a Fat Loss Diet

While I will be looking at Vegan nutrition at a later date and the problems that can arise from this form of nutrition, vegetarian diets still provide more challenges than a conventional omnivore diet and this is primarily for one reason, 22 little bundles of fun called called amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein (as well as providing critical functions for neuro-transmission) and are split into essential and non-essential amino acids. Your diet should be comprised of a a full spectrum of these amino acids, as previously stated there are 22, and your diet needs to contain all of them. So which are classified as essential and non-essential I hear you cry? 🙂

Well its not quite that clear cut, while a lot of sources will list 9 essential and 13 non-essential amino acids the non-essentials are not quite as clear cut as people would have you imagine. Lets deal with the essential ones first as they universally acknowledged:

The 9 Essential Amino Acids

These are:

  1. Histidine
  2. Isoleucine
  3. Leucine
  4. Lysine
  5. Methionine
  6. Phenylalanine
  7. Threonine
  8. Tryptophan
  9. Valine

As the name suggests it is essential that you get all of these in every meal, histidine is sometimes excluded from this list as it is ‘more essential’ for infants and young children rather than adults. There are two of these that are harder to obtain in a vegetarian diet, these are lysine and methionine, and I will be discussing good sources of these a little later on in this post.

As well as the essential Amino acids it is also pretty important that you get the non-essential ones in as well as they perform some critical daily functions.

The 13 Non-Essential Amino Acids

These are:

  1. Alanine
  2. Arginine
  3. Asparagine
  4. Aspartic acid
  5. Cysteine
  6. Glutamic acid
  7. Glutamine
  8. Glycine
  9. Ornithine
  10. Proline
  11. Selenocysteine
  12. Serine
  13. Tyrosine

As I previously said while the title of these ‘non-essential’ would indicate that you don’t need them, they actually perform critical functions in the body away from protein synthesis. Additionally 8 of these can for some individuals be classed as essential. Therefore when I build diets for all my clients I always include the full spectrum of amino acids. This is independent of whether my client’s goal is weight loss, strength gain, building muscle mass or fitness and endurance. These 8 essential non-essential amino acids are:

  1. Arginine
  2. Cysteine
  3. Glutamine
  4. Ornithine
  5. Proline
  6. Selenocysteine
  7. Serine
  8. Tyrosine

OK so now you know what is important to consider in a vegetarian diet, lets quickly look at some foods that offer a full-spectrum of amino acids.

Vegetarian Full-Spectrum Foods

There are some full spectrum single foods available to the vegetarian diet, the main ones are:

  1. Soya, or Soy as my colonial cousins across the Atlantic insist on calling it. This is also the Endamame bean you see in Japanese restaurants. Outside of Asia, which had been using it for thousands of years, this really came to prominence in the 1970s as a meat substitute. Soya is found as flour, beans and tofu (or bean curd) to name a few. Soya is 36% protein. Note that care must be taken on the consumption of soya though as they contain photo Oestrogen – a mimic or analogue of the female hormone Oestrogen (estrogen if you are in the USA) and so care should be taken.
  2. Dairy products – milk, cheese, cream, yoghurt, quark and eggs. Typically milk based products range from 25% protein for cheese to 3.5% for milk. Eggs contain 13% protein, with the yolk containing 16% and the white containing 11%.
  3. Chia seeds. This is a member of the mint and sage family and was popularised in USA as part of a vegetable ‘pet’ 🙂 not for eating though. Chia is 17%.
  4. Quinoa (pronounce kee-noir or kwin-oa). This is a grain originating from South America and is now widely available. Quinoa is 14%.
  5. BuckWheat. This is not the same as conventional wheat used in making bread which is NOT full spectrum. Buckwheat is 13%.
  6. Mycoprotein (Quorn®). This is a protein source that is manufactured from fungi. It was first developed in the 1970s. It is available as a number of meat-lookalikes such as sausages and minced meat. Turn is 11% protein.

Hempseed is sometimes quoted as a full-spectrum or complete protein source, however it is not. As well as the complete protein sources above, it is also possible to combine 2 ingredients to provide the full spectrum, below are some examples:

  1. Rice and Peas – the classic of Caribbean cookery. The ‘peas’ in question are actually kidney beans. If we consider the two essential amino acids that are normally low in vegetarian foods; Lysine and Methionine, then Kidney beans, and most other pulses for that matter, are high in lysine but low in methionine. Whereas rice is low in lysine but high in methionine. Combined they will you a complete source, with around 7% protein.
  2. Protein breads – this includes brands such as Burgen and Dr Zaks. These typically contain Soya in them and so are a complete source. Additionally a bread called Ezekiel Bread (from an ancient Biblical recipe in the Book of Ezekiel) is also a complete protein food. Protein breads range in content from 14% to 30%.
  3. Humous/Hummus or Falafel and Pita Bread. These combine wheat and pulse protein to give a complete source. Typically 7% protein.
  4. Peanut buter sandwich, or peanut butter on plain crackers. Another wheat and pulse combination that makes an ideal snack. Typically around 15% if made with normal bread – higher if made with protein or Ezekiel bread.
  5. Seitan in a Soy broth like Miso. Seitan is basically flavoured wheat gluten, and while gluten has been demonised recently, it is perfectly safe for those people that do not have Coeliac disease or those who are gluten intolerant. The number of people wheat intolerant (including Coeliacs) is 0.5% which is pretty low and no reason for it to be excluded from the vast majority of vegetarian diets. Seitan itself is very very high in protein at 75%, however on its own is not a compete source. It needs a pulse to complete the spectrum. Historically seitan is consumed in a broth made with Soya beans such as the Japanese Miso. Depending on the ratio of soup to seitan it can be anywhere from 15-50% protein.

So while there are more limitations of a vegetarian diet than an omnivore diet there is absolutely no reason why the correct ratios of protein, carbohydrate and fats cannot be achieved to enable your goals to be met.

A Typical Vegetarian Fat Loss Diet

I will build this typical diet based on the calorie calculations from the previous article “Building a Fat Loss Diet” and so will be assuming that the target calories each day are 200, broken down into the following macro-nutrient requirements.

  • Protein: 20% = 400 calories = 100g protein/day
  • Carbohydrates: 50% = 900 calories = 225g carbohydrate/day
  • Fats: 30% = 600 calories = 67g fat/day

Vegetarian diets tend to be quite rich in carbohydrates as you can see from the lists above a lot of protein sources are pulse or grain derived. Therefore we need to balance the diet quite carefully to achieve the required macro breakdown. Again, and as per previous articles, I would recommend you use a calorie tracking site and application such as MyFitnessPal. Using this free service to log all the foods and snacks you eat, will not only show you the calories you have eaten, but also the macro breakdown. It also allows you to log the additional exercise you do away from your normal daily (non training) routine. This means you can make better choices when selecting foods for your meals, and also know what you have got left for the day at any given point. The mobile app is with me all the time.

Breakfast
50g porridge oats made with 125ml of seen-skimmed milk
15g chia seeds on porridge
1 banana – 85g
1 cup strong black coffee
Meal Total: 226 Cals, 8g P, 35g C, 6g F

Mid Morning Snack
8 almonds or 3 brazil nuts – Brazils are great for male sexual health
Meal Total: 105 Cals, 3g P, 3g C, 9g F

Lunch
3 egg omelette with 75g half fat cheddar cheese
100g broccoli
1 apple
Meal Total: 535 Cals, 48g P, 25g C, 27g F

Mid Afternoon Snack
3 rice or corn cakes
125g full fat cottage cheese
Meal Total: 157 Cals, 13g P, 15g C, 5g F

Dinner
450g tofu chow mein
1 slice carrot cake – 70g approx
Meal Total: 635 Cals, 24g P, 110 C, 15g F

Evening Snack
3 cream crackers
30g peanut butter
Meal Total: 183 Cals, 6g P, 21g C, 13g F

Total daily intake of 1949 calories:

Calories: 1949
Protein: 105g = 420 cals = 22%
Carbohydrates: 218g = 872 cals = 45%
Fats: 73g = 657 cals = 33%

So like the conventional omnivore it is not exactly perfect for the the macro breakdown this diet will fulfil your dietary needs, and you will still lose weight while eating the foods you like. The snacks between meals keep your hunger at bay, and are higher in protein and fats which tend to mean you may well eat less at meal times.

Additionally some carbohydrates late at night help control your leptin levels over night which mean you feel less hungry in the morning. I will be covering this and other tips to help you succeed in attaining your goals in the next few weeks.

Again I have not really covered drinks in this diet, and obviously these need to be accounted for. However I recommend lots of water. Your body needs this more than pretty much any other drink you can buy or make. Also ignore the vast majority of drinks loaded with sugars, and this includes most of the main stream ‘isotonic’ or ‘sports’ type drinks that you see on the shelves in super markets and service stations.

There are some fantastic ones out there, don’t get me wrong, but these almost exclusively come as a powder that you mix yourself. You may see athletes and sports personalities promoting them, but they will not be using them as part of their normal diet, as they are loaded with glucose, dextrose and fructose, none of which are great for you under normal fuelling situations. More on this soon, however for the time being stick to water or low calorie squashes. Tea and coffee are fine, but remember to log the milk and cut out the sugar. 🙂  I myself am partial to Coke Zero and Pepsi Max.

Obviously if you are having some light exercise each day then you can afford to eat a few more calories each day too. Using MyFitnessPal to monitor your exercise will automatically adjust your intake for the rest of the day to keep your calorie deficit at 500. This may mean a sneaky biscuit before bed. 🙂

Have fun, make sure you do, what ever you are doing. You only get one go on this ride. 🙂

 

Doctor Vee

Building a fatloss diet

As I am sure you will already read in this blog there are no great secrets in creating a diet that will help you lose weight. What??? You haven’t read that post? Shame on you 🙂 Here’s an easy link for you to refresh your memory:

The Beginners Guide to Fat Loss

Yes, despite what you read on the internet in all those adverts that seem to appear everywhere there really are no secrets to losing weight. There are only two key areas that affect how much weight you lose (or gain). As I have said on several occasions in this blog these boil down to how many calories you put in as food compared to how many calories you burn off as exercise. So the two area you need to consider for the time being are food and exercise. This post will look at the food side of things, one of my next posts will consider a basic exercise plan. Additionally this will consider an omnivore’s diet. I will look at vegetarian diet in my next post, and also in the future will consider a vegan diet. These diets obviously need a different approach, particularly the vegan diet as we need to consider additional things like ensuring that the full spectrum of amino acids are achieved – but more of this at a later date.

Don’t worry if some of this seems very simplistic to some of you, I will be moving on to much more in depth aspects of both of these areas over time, but for the time being it is a slowly slowly approach. You need to walk before you can run.

Where do I start?

So having read the guide to fat loss above, you will I am sure have worked out your BMR (your base metabolic rate). I am going to use a BMR of 2500 for the examples I set out below. This is an average ‘ideal’ male BMR – although with the increasing prevalence of obesity in Western society the actual average I suspect is actually higher.

Also as I am sure you will have read from that post your diet contains two basic forms of nutrients in it, macronutrients and micronutrients. For this post I will be solely concentrating on macronutrients.

So what is a macronutrient?

Macronutrients are the fundamental components of all foods. There are three of them as I am sure you are all aware:

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrate
  • Fat

All of these need to be eaten each day. Yes including fat. Please go read my post on Fat Loss Myths if you need to understand why. What is important however is the ratios of these in your diet.

This post will consider a diet geared towards fat loss only. If you are an athlete or body builder (and I have helped both of these up to the top flight in their sports) then the ratios of these will be quite different. Again I will be covering these at a later point. If you can’t wait for this, please see the Contact Us section of this blog and contact me directly using the form there.

The ratio of macros that I am going to use for this example fat loss diet are as follows:

  • Protein: 20%
  • Carbohydrates: 50%
  • Fats: 30%

This may seem counter intuitive to you. More fats and carbohydrates than protein, that can’t be right??? Despite what Dr Atkins has told you – and please don’t get me started on him – yes it is correct. I will cover Dr Atkins in a later myth busting post, but not in detail right now. However at a high level, the reason his diet worked is not because of ketogenesis (for the vast majority of people his diet will not trigger ketogenesis) it because the additional protein makes you feel fuller for longer. But I wont get started on that here.

So we are using a BMR of 2,500 cals. The diet I will construct is going to assume that the target weight loss is 1lb a week. Again as I covered in the beginners guide post a loss of 1lb a week means that you need to eat 500 calories less than your BMR each day. So our target calorie intake each day are 2,000. Please don’t try to lose more than this if you are just starting out. The harder you restrict your calorie intake, the more likely you are to put weight back on when you revert to a more normal diet. I have seen this too many times, and in some cases the weight gain is actually greater then where the person started off.

Why did I select these values I hear you cry? There are two reasons for these choices. Firstly bear in mind this is not an advanced diet for anyone training with any degree of intensity to gain strength or muscle. This is for your average person looking to lose weight. I have used this diet very successfully with clients over the years and helped a lot of people lose a lot of weight. I also followed a very similar diet myself when I lost my gut (5 stones of fat). My diet now is very different, but then my goals are now very different too. Your goals determine your diet.

Future posts will discuss how this diet should be modified in order to suit differing goals, and also how training will affect the macro breakdown. Secondly I recommend you open an account at MyFitnessPal, the online diet tracking and monitoring service. It’s free too! I am not connected in any way with MFP, but have used it to great effect in tracking my calories. MyFitnessPal has a massive database of foods in it, so it is really easy to track what you eat, see how your macro breakdown is progressing. It allows you to set goals (1lb a week for example) and track your progress. The diet above is also the base line that MFP uses for users. It also allows you to track any additional exercise that you do. If you normally walk to work each day then don’t add this, but if you walk a longer route then you can add in the extra time you spent. Or if you go on a bike ride, or swim then please add these in.

It is also possible to set your own macro breakdown in MFP, so as I move onto more advanced diets and techniques to fit with different goals, you can modify MFP to match your new requirements. They also have great Android and iPhone/iPad apps too to track your food on the move. Go set an account up today – but remember to be 100% honest when you log. yes even that sneaky biscuit with your cup of tea 🙂

So what does this mean I can include in my diet?

Now remember that the breakdown above is not by weight of each macro, but by the calorific value. So the actual amount you need to eat of each macro each day, using the grams per calorie from the beginners guide post, is as follows:

  • Protein: 20% = 400 calories = 100g protein/day
  • Carbohydrates: 50% = 900 calories = 225g carbohydrate/day
  • Fats: 30% = 600 calories = 67g fat/day

So as you can see because fats contain more calories per gram, you are eating less fat each day than either protein or carbohydrate. Now down to business what does this mean you can actually eat each day? Probably more than you expect! Below is a typical diet based on the above macro breakdown:

Breakfast
50g porridge oats made with 125ml of semi-skimmed milk
1 banana – 85g
1 cup strong black coffee
Meal Total: 228 Cals, 9g P, 40g C, 4g F

Mid Morning Snack
8 almonds or 3 brazil nuts – Brazils are great for male sexual health
Meal Total: 99 Cals, 2g P, 2g C, 10g F

Lunch
100g cooked chicken breast cooked in 15g coconut oil
150g boiled or steamed basmati rice
100g broccoli
1 apple
Meal Total: 438 Cals, 34g P, 74g C, 2g F

Mid Afternoon Snack
2 rice or corn cakes
100g low fat cottage cheese
Meal Total: 173 Cals, 13g P, 26g C, 1g F

Dinner
400g king prawn chow mein
1 slice carrot cake – 70g approx
Meal Total: 710 Cals, 21g P, 107g C, 29g F

Evening Snack
2 cream crackers
25g peanut butter
Meal Total: 222 Cals, 8g P, 15g C, 14g F

Total daily intake of 1957 calories:

  • Calories: 1870
  • Protein: 111g = 444 cals or 22%
  • Carbohydrates: 264g = 46%
  • Fats: 60g = 32%

So while not exactly spot on to the macro breakdown this diet will fulfil your dietary needs, and you will still lose weight while eating the foods you like. The snacks between meals keep your hunger at bay, and are higher in protein and fats which tend to mean you may well eat less at meal times.

Additionally some carbohydrates late at night help control your leptin levels over night which mean you feel less hungry in the morning. I will be covering this and other tips to help you succeed in attaining your goals in the next few weeks.

I have not really covered drinks in this diet, and obviously these need to be accounted for. However I recommend lots of water. Your body needs this more than pretty much any other drink you can buy or make. Also ignore the vast majority of drinks loaded with sugars, and this includes most of the main stream ‘isotonic’ or ‘sports’ type drinks that you see on the shelves in super markets and service stations. There are some fantastic ones out there, don’t get me wrong, but these almost exclusively come as a powder that you mix yourself. You may see athletes and sports personalities promoting them, but they will not be using them as part of their normal diet, as they are loaded with glucose, dextrose and fructose, none of which are great for you under normal fuelling situations. More on this soon, however for the time being stick to water or low calorie squashes. Tea and coffee are fine, but remember to log the milk and cut out the sugar. 🙂 I myself am partial to Diet Coke and Pepsi Max.

Obviously if you are having some light exercise each day then you can afford to eat a few more calories each day too. Using MyFitnessPal to monitor your exercise will automatically adjust your intake for the rest of the day to keep your calorie deficit at 500. This may mean a sneaky Rich Tea biscuit before bed. 🙂

Hope you are all having a great weekend.

 

Doctor Vee

Fatloss Myths

OK so before we start, I thought I would tackle a couple of myths around dieting and fats that seem to have become accepted as fact by the majority of people giving ‘advice’ on diet and nutrition. The first in my mind is the biggest one out there right now:

Fat makes you fat

It doesn’t, really it doesn’t, its one of many myths around fatloss. Let me explain. The food we eat is broken down into two groups:

  1. Macro Nutrients – There are three of these Protein, Carbohydrates and fat
  2. Micro Nutrients – This covers vitamins, minerals and digestive enzymes. Gut bacteria could also possibly be included here

We are going to concentrate on two of these in this blog post. The macronutrients all have a calorie value per gram. They are:

  • Proteins – 4 calories per gram – from chicken, fish, red meats, game, pulses(lentils, beans, peas0, mycoproteins (from fungi as used Quorn), dairy
  • Carbohydrates – 4 calories per gram – from sugar, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, root crops (swede/rutabega, turnip, carrots etc), cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower etc)
  • Fats – 9 calories per gram – this is further broken down into saturated fats (typically from animal sources) and unsaturated fats (typically from vegetable sources)

Your daily intake of calories should be made up of a split between these three macros. As you can see fat has a higher calorific value per gram, but in the end it is just another calorie source. As I said in my previous post, weight loss is all about calories in vs calories out. It is easier to exceed your requirements if you are on a high fat diet than it is if you monitor and regulate your fat intake. This does not mean a low fat diet, this just means making sure you get enough fats in each day.

What about low fat foods?

There do seem to be a lot of low fat and fat free foods out there. However next time compare something like low fat yoghurt with normal full fat yoghurt and see if there is any difference in calories. I have done this on several occasions. You will see there is almost no difference. Fats are responsible for a lot of the flavour we get in food, and for giving it texture. If you remove all the fats then you need to replace it with something else. Typically food producers use carbohydrates, and very often the carbohydrate source is sugar. So while you may think you are being good, your calorie intake may actually be no different, low fat foods as part of a calorie controlled diet is another off the fatloss myths. And remember what is important when creating a diet…

Also ponder on this. If you see a food marketed as 95% fat free you would think that was good right? Full fat milk (the one that in the UK comes with a blue plastic top) is only 4% fat. Yes that’s right full fat milk is 96% fat free! Makes you think doesn’t it?

Finally there are very great health benefits to making sure you eat fat each day. Every single nerve impulse that your brain sends to your body, whether walking, picking up a cup, making your heart beat, breathing or moving your eyes to read this blog is only possible because of fat. Myelin the sheath around all your nerves is a type if fat. As is a lot of the white matter that makes up your brain. Your whole nervous system is reliant on fats for it to work.

Also all of your body’s hormones can only be made if there is fat on your body. Whether it is Thyroxine which controls your metabolism or adrenaline/epinephrine for your fight or flight response, or testosterone or oestrogen. They all need fat to be created.

Also there are certain vitamins that are fat soluble (Vitamin E for example) that need fats in order to be moved around your body.

So fat is so very important to your health. However what is important is the need to correctly plan your diet to ensure you get enough fat for what you body needs.

So once again, fat doesn’t make you fat. Cakes do! 🙂

What about white carbohydrates?

This is something that I have noticed recently becoming more and more prevalent. There is a sound scientific reason for some people NOT to eat white carbohydrates and sugars, but the percentage of people that this applies to is so very small that it is very very unlikely to be you, the person reading this blog. A small number of people suffer from something called insulin resistance, or metabolic syndrome. Your body releases insulin so that carbohydrates in your blood stream (normally as glucose), can be shuttled into your cells. Here it is either used immediately for energy or stored away as glycogen (future instant energy) or fat (long term energy store). If you are insulin resistant then your body produces too much insulin and blood borne carbohydrate is stored as fat. Processed carbohydrates get into the blood stream quickly, and so in insulin resistant people these do result in greater gains in fat. Additionally a high intake of trans-fats and saturated fats also has a bearing on insulin resistance.

HOWEVER… As I have said this applies to a very small percentage of people, a really very small percentage. It can only really be diagnosed by a clinician (doctor or nurse), but typically symptoms include:

One of the earliest and most noticeable symptoms of insulin resistance is weight gain, particularly around the middle.

Further symptoms include:

Lethargy
Hunger
Difficulty concentrating (brain fog)
High blood pressure is another common symptom which is caused by high circulating levels of insulin in the blood

Reproduced from The Diabetes Society Website

Additionally you will normally get some darkening of the skin on the back of your neck in the creases.

If you do suffer from insulin resistance it is difficult to reverse it. It is possible, as I have done it. So please no excuses. 🙂

The story of white carbohydrates making you fat, or needing to cut them out from your diet has become accepted as the norm because of stories circulating about people cutting them from their diet and losing weight.  These people will have had metabolic syndrome.  Also remember what I have been saying all along though. Calories make you put on weight. Those people who have cut out white carbohydrates (and normally sugar as well) will have lost weight because they calorie intake has been less than the calories that they have burned. It really is as simple as that. For people with Metabolic Syndrome this is made easier by removing processed carbohydrates.

However for the rest of the people without IR, then there is no need to cut out processed carbohydrates. I can guarantee that the top flight athletes and sports people you see will be eating basmati rice and pasta every day. Do they look fat to you?

There are more dieting myths out there, but these are the two big ones that stop people constructing their diet correctly, and having something that is easy to follow. I am not saying that every meal should be packed with white carbohydrates, just the fact that they should be part of your diet the same as unprocessed carbohydrates should be.

Tune in next time when we start covering how to build a diet that is right for your goals, not a one size fits all approach.

Have fun what ever you are doing and catch you next time.

 

Doctor Vee

No secrets to fatloss

No Secrets to fatloss, really!

There are no secrets to fatloss despite what you may have read on the internet.  There are also no miracle products despite what you see on the internet. Adverts may make claims of miracle weight loss for products such as Raspberry Ketones, Acai Berry, African Mango etc etc, but none of these will give you the weight losses that they claim, in fact most of them will give you zero.  I will debunk each and every one of these with hard science, not the dubious claims made about them.  You will also see that any product hyped up by the charlatan Dr Oz is also pretty much worthless.   No better than the snake oil peddled by the travelling medicine shows of the late 19th and early 20th century.  Any losses using any of these products will be a LOT lower than the claims made and will be due to the placebo effect.  If you get any at all.  Avoid them.  I will be explaining the ones to use, but spelling out in real terms the additional losses that you can expect from them, and also explaining the science behind them.  But more on these supplements a little later.

As I started off by saying that there are no secrets to losing weight.  This is the truth.  There have been a lot of claims made recently about what you should and shouldn’t eat, again I will be explaining in clear easy terms why the vast majority of these claims are just plain wrong.  How they have come to be accepted as truths, and even why the medical fraternity also are now using these as a truth too, when the science does NOT back this up at all.  Some of the ‘facts’ that you have been sold as being truths, which are just plain wrong include:

  • Fat makes you fat – it doesn’t, period / full stop.
  • Eating white carbohydrates like white bread and white rice / pasts makes you fat.  Guess what, it doesn’t.  Well unless you have something called insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome – which affects a very very small percentage of people.
  • Your genetic makeup makes you fat.  No it doesn’t.  Really it doesn’t.  It may make you more predisposed to store fat, but it doesn’t make you fat.
  • Your ‘glands’ make you fat.  Unless you have metabolic syndrome, they really don’t make you fat.
  • You can target fatloss to one specific area, like your stomach, thighs, butt, chest.  You can’t. despite all those internet adverts, you really really can’t.  And they will charge you for this information and it wont work.

These points may go against everything that you have read.  However whilst some are based on science, they are based on science that applied to such a small percentage of people, that they are useless to the vast majority of people. I will be covering this condition and explaining who these people are and how you can tell if this might apply to you.

So what does make you fat, and how can you go about losing it again?

Fatloss and fat gain are based on a really simple principle.  It boils down to nothing more than calories in vs calories out.  If calories in are more than calories out then you will store the excess as fat and gain weight.  If calories out are more then calories in then you will burn fat, and lose weight.

It really is as simple as that.

Whatever you are told on the internet, by so called gurus, unless it boils down to the above statements, then they are wrong.  There is no argument about this, genuinely there isn’t.  Those adverts that claim ‘I learned one simple trick to lose belly fat’ are just plain wrong.  Fat is added and lost uniformly across the body.  So where you gain the weight first will be where you lose it last.  For some people this will be their thighs, butt, waist, belly, back, chest, face.  For me it is the love handles and chest.  I know this from years of diet experiments, real world experience and solid hard science facts, not miracle diet advice from people that have never been fat!

So where do I start, I hear you asking?

Well the first point is to work out your Base Metabolic Rate (BMR).  Don’t worry if you don’t know what this is I will explain.  Your BMR is the amount of calories you need to keep your body going without losing or gaining weight, and assuming that you are sedentary (sat down) all day.  This will typically be in the range of 1,400 for a 21 year old woman 5 feet 6 inches (1.67m) tall weighing 112 lbs (8 stones / 50.8Kg) to 1,900 for a 40 something male 5feet 10 inches (1.76m) tall and weighing 213lbs (14st 7lbs / 96.6Kg).  This figure is not typically your daily calorie intake, as you will normally be active, even if you are at a desk job.  Walking your dog, even walking to get lunch, climbing stairs etc etc all burn extra calories, and so you will normally see that the calorie intake for a woman is stated at 2,000 a day, and a man at 2,500.

These are a good bench mark, however they are not a one size fits all figure, and ideally you should calculate your own, and recalculate it as your weight changes to be sure.  So how do you calculate your BMR.  I could give you the various different formulae to do this, however it is so much easier to just use an online calculator to do it for you. 🙂  I recommend MyFitnessPal, more on this service in a separate post though.  The link below all take you to their BMR calculator so you can do this.  Why not do it now?  Please come back though.

My Fitness Pal BMR Calculator

So now you know how many calories you need, if you don’t move each day, in order to maintain your current weight.  So how do you get to the calories you actually need to survive?  Well there is a simple rule of thumb that you can use to get you started.

If you have a light level of activity every day, no sports and strenuous job then add on an additional 25% to your total.  So for me that would be 25% of 1900 which is an additional 495 calories,  which takes me to 2,375 calories a day.

If you have a moderate level of activity, or say play sports or go to the gym 2 or 3 times a week then add on 50% to your total.  For me that would be an additional 950 cals, taking me to 2,850 cals a day.

This not an exact science, and will need you to fine tune it over time, but I will cover this in a separate post.

So now you know what you actually need to eat, so how do you lose weight, and how much can you safely lose.  I will cover how you build a diet to match your requirements and not feel hungry or have cravings in my next post here.  So before we get onto how much to lose, lets do a little bit more maths 🙂

A pound of fat is approximately 3,750 calories.  Very often we use 3,500 for any calculations, as this can be spread evenly over 7 days.  So lets put this into plain English, if you eat 500 calories over your requirements each day – this is not much; a large chocolate bar, a large flapjack, a fast food burger and fries all will put you over that value – you will gain a pound of fat in a week – 7 x 500 = 3,500 = alb of fat.  If you eat 250 calories over each day then you will gain half a pound of fat a week – this is a small chocolate bar like a snickers.  So you see how simple it can be to gain weight.

It is also the same calculations that allow you to work out how much you can lose in a week.  If you eat 500 calories a day less than you need then you will lose a pound of fat in a week.  750 cals under will equate to 1 and 1/2 pounds lost a week.

So how much is it safe to lose in a week?  My guidance to my clients has always been don’t try and lose any more than 1.5 – 2 pounds a week.  Also don’t go below 1200 calories a day.  So if your BMR is 1950 cals then 1.5 would be your maximum as this is 750 less a day, which takes you to 1200 cals.  However in this case I would actually suggest 0.5 – 1 lb a week.  At 1200 calories (sometimes a little higher) your body starts doing strange things, and is more likely top burn muscle than fat, and will try to store any calories you do eat as fat.  Fat is significantly more important to your body than muscle.  As well as insulating you, fat is essential for your nervous system to function correctly, it is also used in every process in your body that produces hormones (your endocrine system).  So while 1200 is the theoretical point where this happens, it can be higher.  So generally when building a weight loss program always be safe.  If you plan correctly you have a much higher chance of keeping the weight off long term.

The other thing that happens if your diet has too few calories, is that when your diet is over, if you have been on a very low cal diet, then your body will start storing the new additional calories as fat.  Just what you want to avoid, after you have worked so hard to lose it.  So be sensible in how much you plan to lose each week.  If you have a month left before your holiday, and you want to lose 20lbs it is just not going to be possible.  Despite what this oh so tempting internet adverts wold have you believe.

Miracle Internet Claims

In fact lets take a quick look at just one of those adverts and the claims they make.  There is one that I see all the time, and its tag line is something like:

“Lose 1 stone (14lbs) of belly fat in 2 weeks”

This is normally associated with “1 simple trick” or some miracle product.  So lets break this down a little.   14 lbs in 2 weeks is 1 lb a day.  Now remember what I said about how many calories there were in a pound of fat.  3,750 right.  So that is a loss of 3,750 calories a day.  If your BMR is lets say 2,500 (an average male, or active woman) then even if you didn’t eat anything each day, the trick / product would still have to lose an additional 1,250 calories a day.  This is an increase in metabolic rate of 50%.  There are no legally available products that will do this.  There are also no prescription drugs that will do this.  So as you can see this is bunkum, snake oil or to be blunt, a pack of lies.

If something seems to be too good to be true, it is, trust me.  There is no magic bullet.  There are things you can do to help you lose weight quicker, but everyone knows deep down what these are.  Basically it boils down to burning more of those calories that you have stored away.  Take more exercise.  This doesn’t mean jogging.  In fact I never, ever tell any of my clients to jog.  It is so bad for you physiologically.  You will damage your knees, ankles and spine.  Running is different and I will explain more about this in one of my exercise posts.  However fast walking over different terrains and inclines, both up and down hill, is in my opinion a fantastic way of burning more calories.  Also swimming and cycling are brilliant.  Finally get to the gym.  I know this is daunting.  I will however cover all of these, and the gym – including all the exercises you will ever need and how to do them so you don’t injure yourself.  This is another area where there is a lot of bad information given out.  I recently retrained all the personal trainers for a well known London Gym chain, as a lot of the training advice they were giving was wrong and some was plain dangerous for their clients’ long term joint health.

So stay tuned, next posts will be fatloss myths and how to plan and track your weight loss diet.  Then we will start getting more involved with the steps you can take to help you reach your goals.

Have a great time whatever you are doing today.  Enjoy life – you only get one so don’t waste it.

Doctor Vee

Welcome to Team Fatloss

Welcome to Team Fatloss.  With over 30 years of helping people achieve their goals, this blog is aimed at distilling that knowledge and making it available for free to you Joe, or Joanna, Public.  Yup for free!  You’ll find the people behind Team Fatloss are really approachable and know their stuff.  So please don’t feel like you can’t ask anything you want.  It’s all good, there are no wrong questions.

Oh and its not just about Fatloss either, training, nutrition, supplementation, bulking, cutting, meal plans and a discussion forum too, we will try to cover everything.

This is in conjunction with Mikes Meritor Gym in North Wales, possibly the finest little big gym around.  Go check out their page on Facebook.

So what will you get on here.  This is the BIG question.  You’ll be getting:

  • Tips on building a diet that will work and be easy to maintain
  • The science behind weight-loss
  • Common excuses we have all used and why they are bullshit
  • No nonsense advice on supplements and nutrition
  • Training plans
  • Competitions and offers (in conjunction with Mike’s Meritor Gym)
  • Tips and videos on the correct form for common exercises
  • Why it is more important to lift well not lift heavy

and anything else you want covered.  Please use the contact us page to ask questions.  Each week we’ll feature a question and give our answer in an effort to help people as much as we can.

So that’s it, what more do you want.  If you can think of anything just let us know.