The Tale of Joe and Jo. Diet and Lifestyle. Part 2
This is the story of my hypothetical couple and their journey into fitness and personal training. Last week they got started with some stretches and exercises for the hip flexers to help with a tug in the low back. This article is about getting their lifestyle on track to promote success with training and weight loss.
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After spending ten minutes on the movements each night they are both feeling a little better and finding that they don't experience the ache in the lower back they used to.
Despite this improvement and being pretty motivated to get started the thought of hard training makes them feel pretty nervous. During a short workout Joe complained of feeling lightheaded after having not eaten for several hours and both Joe and Jo felt too tired after a bad nights sleep.
As they are fictional constructs and not really in much of a hurry to get started properly we decided to take another week to get their lifestyle and the most basic basics of diet sorted out.
It turns out that Joe's diet is very high in sugar. Even the 'healthy' choices he makes like cereal bars and low fat products are loaded with sugar. Even the lower sugar foods are still very high in carbohydrate like bread, pasta and rice. He is always hungry and feels he has to eat every few hours.
This diet has unfortunate side effects. Firstly the high level of sugar screws (the technical scientific term) your bodies insulin sensitivity. This means your body has no idea how much insulin you actually need in order to keep your blood sugar even. Imagine being in a room containing a strong smell and realizing after a couple of hours you can't smell it any more. Your body will overproduce insulin as a result of having no idea of its present level. The elevated levels of this hormone will cause your body to reduce your blood sugar and then continue reducing it after it reached 'normal'. Now you have low blood sugar and will become hungry or lightheaded especially if you engage in exercise. Another option it to self medicate with Jaffa cakes and sugary coffee.
A common 'healthy' way to deal with this is to eat a small meal every 2 or 3 hours all day and to ensure you eat immediately before and after working out. I don't agree with this. To me it is the equivalent of a car that has to have its gear stick in neutral for a moment before selecting a different gear or a broken roof propped up with some old wood. It WORKS fine I guess but it is just a workaround. The problem is still there and isn't going anywhere.
Instead I ban sugar (in tea/coffee, fizzy drinks, 'sports' drinks, biscuits, sweets and in all other forms including natural ones like fruit juice and honey) and processed grain foods (bread, pasta, wraps, cereal bars and so on). To make up the difference in quantity of food he eats a lot more vegetables and salad and to make up for the difference in calories he includes a lot more healthy fat in his diet in the form of nuts, avocados, grass fed butter and EV olive oil.
Naturally he feels a little more full and eats a little less often. Without too much effort Joe can now last a full training session with good energy. Diet can be infinitely simple or infinitely complex. Later I will go into far far more advanced diet strategies but for now a simple, "Did it grow out the ground or have a face?" is enough to get started. Another simple rhyme to remember is did it "grew, flew or poo?" Makes me smile.
Before anyone points out that grain foods DO grow out the ground I would like it to be known that some grains require some serious processing before they stop being toxic let alone become edible. Some more some less but none are optimum to help balance blood sugar.
If you would be interested in getting started with a training program please contact me through this link. Please subscribe through my home page and as an added gift receive my diet guide.
My next article will go into dealing with sleep issues.
Richard at Force of Nature Personal Training