So when it comes to dieting, they’re all pretty much all the same. They all work on what’s called a calorie deficit, where you consume fewer calories than you burn. Now, probably the number one reason why diets don’t work, even though they’re all based on a calorie deficit, is they’re too extreme. Either the diet itself is too extreme because it makes you restrict the calories too much or we make it too extreme. So for example, let’s say you’re going to cut out carbs, then you’re going to cut out alcohol, then you’re going to start doing exercise, and that’s a huge change to your body. Our bodies like homeostasis, which is where everything is in balance. If we do something that’s very extreme, our body thinks something is wrong, and you’ve got to remember that there are primitive parts of our brains that haven’t evolved for hundreds of thousands of years. And for hundreds of thousands of years, what we would die from would be famine, starvation.

So if we ever cut our calories too much, and that’s going to be more than 10%, our brain starts to think, “Okay, shit, what is going on here? Maybe there’s a drought, maybe there’s no food around,” and it starts to work against your fat loss efforts. Because you need to remember, the guy who is the fattest when the famine happens is going to stay alive longest. Well, I guess as long as the more muscly guys don’t eat them. So when you lose weight, and everyone does lose weight, pretty much, when they’re on a diet, especially at the beginning, you lose a lot of weight, you need to be thinking that that’s going to be muscle and fat, and depending on how severe the weight loss is, or the weight cut is, you’re going to be burning through more muscle than you are fat. In fact, there are studies that say that 75% of the weight that you can lose can be lean body mass over fat.

The reason for this is that muscle is highly metabolically active. A kilo of muscle burns a hundred calories from doing absolutely nothing. If you’re a muscly guy and there’s a famine, you are going to die way quicker than the other fat guy who hasn’t got that much muscle. So obviously the body starts to jettison muscle far, far quicker than it does the fat. Now, what does this mean for you? This means that your metabolism starts to tank, and so it becomes increasingly difficult for you to lose weight on the diet that you’re on unless you cut calories even further. But then as I said, it’s going to be even more muscle you’re losing than fat. On top of this, as I said, because our brain has a primitive side to us thinking we’re in starvation or in a famine, it releases or it starts playing with ghrelin and leptin, which are two hormones which make things like food seem more appealing to you, especially fatty, high-calorie food because in a famine that’s the sort of food you want.

In fact, what you’ll find is when you’re walking around, you’ll be able to see food, billboards and stuff, and people eating food, it’ll be far more keen. You’ll almost zoom into that, and also the smell of food, the smell of food will feel far more appealing to you because this is basically a survival mechanism because if you are in a field and you were the guy that could spot the rabbit, you might be able to live through that dark period. So the body starts to work against you, and ultimately after some time, you’re going to crack, you’re going to give up. And at this time it’s called the feast period, or you binge, where you eat like a whole pack of biscuits or you say, “Oh fuck it. I’m going to have a Domino’s pizza, Ben and Jerry’s and the chicken wings.”

And what we found is that when people binge after a diet they put all their weight back on plus 10%, so they’re heavier than when they started in the first place because the body has created that buffer and we’re not used to eating that food with such a low metabolism. So we’re in a worse position than when we first started. Now obviously we don’t like being way heavier than we were before, but this creates what’s called a yo-yo. You become a yo-yo dieter. You lose that weight, you put it back on, you lose that weight, you put it back on. But unfortunately, when you put it back on, you’re always a tiny bit heavier than you were before. And that’s the vicious cycle of diets.

Here is a picture of one of our clients, Suzanne, who lost six stone four times, I think it was in her life. She went on something called Aliva, which is sort of like a shake diet where I think it’s about 600 calories a day, which is way too little, but it is effective. If you have a calorie deficit, you do lose weight. But the real important thing to note is that if you’re looking for life long results if you’re looking to be at a good healthy weight, not have excess fat, not have all the problems coming with being overweight, it’s about losing the weight and keeping it off. With our Stronger By Design system, the reason it’s so powerful is that we don’t try and hack away at you. I always use the analogy, if you think about a Spanish leg of ham, you don’t hack away at it, you cut thin slices off it, and that’s the way you need to be thinking about losing weight.

It’s a gradual process that isn’t as much a shock to the body. It takes longer, but it stays off. If you think about all the money you invested losing that weight, it went back on, then you invest money, losing it again all the time, whatever. It’s just such a waste. In a time when we’re all so busy, we need to make sure we do it once and we do it well. When it comes to our Stronger By Design system, we are looking at protein, fats, carbs, and mindset. The protein, basically you’re thinking about increasing the protein. Especially with women, you don’t eat enough protein. When I go to the supermarket and there’s a lady in front of me with food, most of the protein that you actually see is in the cat food that they’re buying. For them themselves, it’s broccoli or even corn or… I’m not even going to go into vegan protein substitutes. But ultimately, eat more.

Men, generally you eat enough protein. Not only do we need the protein to keep muscle as we start to lose weight, but you will also always lose some muscle as you lose weight. But you want to try and keep as much as you can so your metabolism is high when you get to your ideal weight. But also it’s very filling, so increase protein. Then we look at carbohydrates, this is something that shouldn’t be removed totally from your diet. Yes, you need to reduce your refined carbohydrates, but if you’re on an intelligent program or you’re following a good system, then you can have some refined carbs. If you have a Cadbury’s Creme Egg at Easter, you better make sure that you get a PB at the gym.

Now when it comes to other carbs, you need them for fueling the workout. That’s one of the key components to see how well you’re doing in terms of your health journey is how you’re performing at the gym. And we’ll go into that at a later time, but you are fueling your body to perform in the gym and the weight loss will just come off, so you can have pasta, you just need to manage the amount that you have. Carbs don’t turn into fat for people who are active. If you’re inactive and you’re sitting on the sofa and stuff, yes, carbs are a problem, but if you’re on a good training program, it’s not going to be a problem for you.

Then when it comes to fat, okay, you all eat too much fat. If you are eating out, you are eating too much fat. So many people that I work with eat lunch out, but you don’t know what’s in the food that you’re eating. Even the stuff on the back of the package is an estimate and that estimate can be 20, 25% out, which can be disastrous for your weight loss goals. Think about it … I used to work with a chef and he’d make a roast chicken where he put like butter under the skin. Most people don’t do that at home. But when you eat out, just to make things taste nicer, you’re going to find far more fat, far more sugar, so that it’s a calorie bomb. You aren’t in control of the food if you’re eating out. And especially if you are training on a good training program and you’re overweight, fat is the one thing you need to manage.

And finally, the most important aspect and what we do differently at SALECCA, we look at the mindset. You have to understand why you are overeating. If you’re a couple of pounds overweight, it’s more likely that you’re not pushing yourself hard enough in the gym rather than overeating. But if you’re heavily overweight, you can’t skip the mental component. Why are you drinking so much? Is it that you feel that you’re boring when you’re not drunk? Why are you eating so much? Maybe it’s because you’re lonely and you’re at home and you’re stuffing your face and there’s nothing else to do. All of those things need to be tackled. The boredom, the loneliness, the anxiety. Once those things are tackled, then you’ll have longterm weight loss. Because otherwise, if those things stay in the background, even your self talk, “I’m a fat guy, I don’t deserve this,” then all that weight comes crashing back on.

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