3 New Years Resolutions for Weight Loss (That Actually Work)

2018_1_Resolutions.png

It’s the New Year and the number one resolution on most people’s list is to trim their waistline and lose a few pounds.  After a festive holiday break, it’s easy to consume a few too many tasty treats or festive drinks. Unfortunately, the calories and the pounds start to add up. The natural tendency is to want to completely overhaul your eating habits and exercise routine to kick-start your weight loss. Unfortunately, most people fall short of their new goals before the end of the month and research shows only 5-10% lose weight and hold it off by the end of the year. 

The key to long-term successful weight loss is to focus on weight loss principles and not get too lost in the latest fads (although, if a fad motivates you to get started, by all means!). Let's review two key underling principles of weight loss; caloric restriction and compliance. The common theme amongst all types of diet, regardless if its LCHF, Keto, Paleo, Vegan, IIFYM, the Cabbage Soup diet (yes, a real thing) is a caloric deficit. Ironically, if you chase artificial sweeteners and zero-fat foods you likely won't see the progress you're after. Far easier to adopt a method that gets you naturally into a caloric deficit and focuses on real food. Next, on the compliance side of things, once again it doesn't matter what type of diet you start, if you can't stick to it you're going to fail. Compliance is fundamental to success. 

In this article, I've review three methods my overweight and obese clients have adopted with a high degree of success to support acute and long-term weight loss; low-carb breakfast, no snacking and HIIT training. You can jump in with both feet and adopt all three, or drip-feed them in to suit your schedule. (There is a lot more nuance than these three steps, but it's a great place to start if you're looking simple, effective methods for success). Let's take a closer look.

#1 Adopt A Low-Carb Breakfast

If you’re overweight, out of shape, or in poor health you're more than likely in a caloric excess.  Your body will be stuck in "storage" mode due to the excess of calories, converting them efficiently body-fat and unfortunately blocking your ability to tap into your own fat stores for fuel ( a big problem if you're trying to lose weight). The research shows 5 out of top 6 calorically dense foods in the North American diet come in the form of mainly processed carbohydrates; grain-based desserts, breads and cereals, soda pop, pizza and alcohol. If you start your day with the conventional high-carb breakfast, the hormonal signals telling your body to "store" your energy as fat will ramp up (i.e. insulin), putting the brakes on your ability to burn your own body-fat for fuel. Research shows that chronically high blood sugar levels and poor insulin sensitivity contribute to increased risk of weight gain diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, dementia and alzheimer’s.(1,2,3

A simple and effective strategy to reduce your caloric intake and improve your blood sugar control is to ditch your high-carb breakfast in favor of a higher protein and fat alternative. For example, poached eggs with avocado and cherry tomatoes or plain yogurt with berries and walnuts are great breakfast options, even if you’re busy and on the go. If you prefer breakfast smoothies, add 30-40g of protein along with a source of dietary fat (e.g. avocado or coconut oil), keep fruit to a minimum (i.e. ½ cup) and remember to use water as the base rather than juice to keep the carb and calorie count to a minimum.

The added protein you naturally achieve in a low-carb breakfast is one of the major reasons why this strategy is often so effective; helping to keep you full and satiated, as well as boosting metabolism due to its higher thermic effect of food (a fancy way of saying it "costs more" for your body to metabolize and process the protein you eat).  It also provides a more nutrient-dense food option, supplying you with key vitamins and minerals to support overall health. 

#2 Ditch The Snacks

You've probably heard the common refrain that eating lots of small meals throughout the day supports weight loss via increasing your metabolism. Context is crucial when considering this generic piece of advice. Like most things in life, the answer isn’t black and white. A recent meta-analysis review over the last 50 years in overweight people (i.e. general population) found eating multiple meals throughout the day (i.e. snacking) did NOT increase their metabolism and did NOT improve their weight loss.(4) In fact, they often gain weight! Lean protein snacks can be beneficial, but in an office setting you probably don’t have chicken breasts, steaks and salmon fillets tucked away in your desk drawers to snack on. Processed carbs and sugary treats tend to dominate the snack options, and these types of foods are hyper-palatable, leading to over-consumption. In fact, research shows overweight individuals can often trigger greater weight loss with fewer meals, rather than constantly grazing throughout the day.(5) (Remember, you still need three meals a day, as dropping to only two will slow metabolism and hinder weight loss.(6)

This New Year, a simple strategy to support effective, long-term weight loss is to ditch the snacks at your desk and re-focus your energy on eating three “high-quality” square meals throughout the day (just like your grandparents used to!). At first, you may struggle with some cravings, so feel free to add coffee (only in AM) or tea as caffeine helps to curb cravings, or a glass of water between meals (mineral water works great) to help prevent the negative impacts of "distracted eating" in this article.

(Note - If you're an athlete or bodybuilder and training frequently, eating multiple meals throughout the day - with protein at each meal - can definitely help optimize training adaptations and body composition. More on this in a future post.)

#3 Add More High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

In January, gyms across the country are full of people doing steady-state cardio in an attempt to lose weight. While a properly periodized plan from a coach can definitely help you get fitter and leaner, most people tend to do the same routine every time they train and this type of “chronic cardio” strategy is a major roadblock to weight loss success. Over time, you burn fewer and ferwe calories to perform the same exercise bout. You're not getting fitter and you're not getting leaner. The solution is more efficiency (not more miles on the treadmill). The research shows that short, intense bursts of HIIT exercise can produce powerful changes in body composition and is far more time-efficient than steady-state cardio. That’s right, HIIT helps build a greater VO2 max (a reliable marker for aerobic fitness), can burn more calories than traditional cardio and is just as good as for your heart as steady-state aerobic training. It's a time-efficient way to get your movement i

The Bottomline: You don't have to completely overhaul your life to achieve your goals. Embrace your New Year's resolutions this year and get back to the fundamentals to achieve success;  adopt a low-carb breakfast and ditch the snacks to achieve a caloric deficit and better sustained energy (and satiety), and add HIIT training to improve your cardiovascular fitness and capacity to burn fat. 

What will your legacy be this New Year? The answer is much simpler than you think. It’s not about finding the best new exercise regime or trendiest diet, but rather transforming your old habits that hold you back and transform them into new “good” habits that promote weight loss. Make small changes that you can sustain over the long run.  Building new habits will enable you to achieve your weight loss and health goals this year and before you know it, you will be set up for long-term success and a better body this year!

Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, MS(c), CISSN, CSCS

Want to learn more about weight loss principles? Listen to Danny Lennon MS talk weight loss in Season 2, Episode 1 of the Dr. Bubbs Performance Podcast.

Ready for more in-depth support? Check out my FREE WEIGHT LOSS E-BOOK, a full 14-day guide on what to eat, how to move, and how to upgrade your sleep and lifestyle to kick-start weight loss.

Late-Night Eating: The Modern Circadian Mismatch

Late-Night Eating: The Modern Circadian Mismatch

Renowned evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky said “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”[1] Throughout our evolution, we have lived in daily cycles of light and dark. These cycles have led to the development of natural circadian rhythms that impact many aspects of our health and vitality.

Circadian rhythms are triggered by the bright light stimulus in the morning and darkness in the evening. The hypothalamus area of the brain – specifically the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) – is the master regulator, synchronising the body’s circadian clock based on information it receives from photoreceptors in the eyes in response to light [2]. The impacts of circadian rhythm are wide-reaching:

Read More

The Problem With Standard Diabetes Advice (And How To Fix It)

Are you currently struggling with pre-diabetes or diabetes (type-2)? You’re not alone. Today, one out of every two Americans either has pre-diabetes or diabetes (type-2), which puts you at greater risk of heart attack and stroke, cancer, alzheimer’s disease, kidney damage, and chronic nerve pain. (1)

Do you feel like your health isn’t improving, and you’ll be stuck on your medications for life? It’s not your fault. Unfortunately, even if you precisely follow the guidelines laid out by the American Diabetic Association (ADA), you’ll likely struggle to ever reverse your condition.

How is this struggle possible? Shouldn’t following the advice from the “experts” help you restore your health and vitality? Sadly, that’s frequently not the case. Let me explain:

Proteins, Carbs, and Fats

All the foods you eat can be lumped into three categories: proteins, carbs, and fats. Hands down, carbs have the greatest impact on your insulin and blood-sugar levels. Proteins have only a modest impact, while fats have virtually no impact at all. If you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic, the excess sugars (i.e., carbs) in your blood are at toxically high levels and making you sick.

The blood-sugar hormone insulin is responsible for shuttling the food you eat (primarily carbohydrates) into your cells, which gives you energy. If you consume a high-carb or high-sugar diet (or you’re out of shape), your body is not very efficient at this process. Therefore, it must pump out more and more insulin to do the same job. If you’re pre-diabetic or diabetic, the dysfunction becomes even more pronounced.

When you eat a high-carb diet, your body has a hard time converting food to energy.

So if carbs are the greatest contributor to insulin and blood-sugar dysfunction (and thus diabetes), surely the recommendation would be to follow a low-carb diet, right? Wrong.

The ADA confirms that the single biggest factor impacting blood-sugar levels is carbohydrates, yet it doesn’t recommend a low-carb diet over a low-fat approach—despite mounting evidence. Astonishingly, their recommendations suggest that diabetics consume 40-60g of carbs per meal, plus more while snacking. What? That would amount to over 200g carbohydrates per day for diabetics. And the average intake for most Americans would be a whopping 450g per day! (2)

The problem starts when things get so bad you need medications. If you’re taking a drug to manage your blood-sugar levels, you MUST eat more carbohydrates to avoid the side effects of the medications. Ironically, you need to consume more of what’s causing your problem in the first place; that worsens your condition in the long term, and leaves you stuck on medications for the rest of your life. There is a better way.

Diabetes is a “food” disease, and lowering your carbohydrate intake is crucial. By simply reducing your carb intake, you can dramatically reduce insulin levels and improve your blood-sugar level in a matter of weeks.

Research about the effects of low-carb diets on diabetics shows dramatic improvements in blood-sugar and insulin levels, as well as key health markers (e.g., inflammation, triglycerides, and “bad” LDL cholesterol).

In 2015, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the difference between low-carb and high-carb diets in 115 obese type-II diabetics—over the course of 52 weeks. The low-carb diet beat the high-carb approach (i.e., the ADA’s recommended diet) in EVERY category: weight loss, blood-sugar control, reduction of diabetes medication, and improved cardiovascular health. (3) When you reduce your carbohydrate intake, your insulin levels improve very quickly (which is the root cause of your diabetes).

Reduce your carb intake to improve insulin levels and your overall health.

One of the biggest risk factors for heart attacks is insulin dysfunction (i.e., pre-diabetes or diabetes). People with diabetes are 42% more likely to die of a heart attack. A meta-analysis review examined the benefits of a low-carb diet on cardiovascular disease (CVD) from 20 different studies, which included over 3,000 people. A low-carb, high-fat, high-protein diet showed the greatest improvements in CVD markers; it also triggered the best blood-sugar control and weight loss, and it improved “good” HDL cholesterol.(4)

Furthermore, Harvard Medical School also had a recent finding: White breads, cereals, and processed carbs promoted significant elevations in markers of systemic inflammation in overweight individuals—which worsens every chronic disease condition.(5)

But the negative impacts of excess carb intake on insulin dysfunction and health don’t stop there. Most (if not all) individuals struggling with insulin dysfunction also have significant belly fat, which is also strongly associated with increased inflammation and damage to the lining of the gut; this increases the likelihood of intestinal permeability or leaky gut, (6) places a tremendous burden on your immune system, and can predispose you to autoimmune conditions (e.g., thyroid problems).

The solution to the problem is getting your insulin levels back on track, and the best way to do that is to adopt a low-carb diet.

Carbohydrates are NOT an essential nutrient. You need to consume foods with proteins and fats every day because your body cannot make them from its own internal machinery. Your body can make glucose (i.e., carbs) from protein and fats. In fact, you could actually eat ZERO CARBS and survive. While this tactic isn’t my recommendation, it highlights how the body requires proteins and fats for survival—but not starchy carbohydrates (e.g., breads, pastas, and potatoes).

With one out of two Americans pre-diabetic or diabetic, it’s fair to say that the overconsumption of carbs and simple sugars is rampant in today’s society.

The Problem with the Typical American Breakfast & How to Fix It

It’s not easy shaking a dependency on carbohydrates. Your hormones are geared to leave you constantly craving food, specifically carbs and simple sugars (unfortunately, not broccoli and grass-fed beef).

Tragically, we wait for disease to take root, then try to fix it. A mandate to reverse type-II diabetes is nowhere to be found in the ADA guidelines. Diabetes is a food-based disease, which requires a food-based solution. A low-carb, high-fat diet has the power to reverse your diabetes, restore your health, and get you off a lifelong dependency on medications. (And best of all, it’s absolutely delicious!)

If you want to reverse insulin dysfunction and diabetes, start with breakfast.

The typical American breakfast is ideal for promoting insulin dysfunction and diabetes; it places a dramatic emphasis on carbs, carbs, and more carbs! You don’t need cereals, juices, toast, or muesli to be sharp and energetic at work. Remove all starchy carbs and juices at breakfast (i.e., all breads, cereals, bagels, muesli, and orange juice).

Ditch the cereal and start your day with eggs, avocado and berries.

Instead, consume at least two eggs (with the yolks, which contain all 13 essential nutrients and fantastic fats). Combine it with some avocado and a handful of berries or a slice of melon. Alternatively, try plain coconut-milk yogurt with added walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and berries. Or go the smoothie route, and combine a low-carb protein powder (20-30g) with avocado, frozen berries (1/2 cup), and water.

All of these options are low-carb, high-fat, and moderate-protein. That’s the perfect combination for correcting a blood-sugar imbalance.

Once you achieve a compliance of 6 out of 7 breakfasts, shift your focus to lunch. Adopt a similar, low-carb, high-fat lunch. In other words, replace all breads, pastas, rice, and potatoes with leafy greens, veggies, and small amounts of fruit. Then once you’ve achieved a compliance rate of 6 out of 7 lunches, transform your dinner to complete the regiment.

Start Slow for Long-Term Success

You could jump in with both feet, and attack all meals every day. But in my experience, those who’ve struggled in the long term to achieve success do best by slowly integrating the changes. In terms of compliance, it’s much easier. And it’ll help you build new nutrition habits; that’s the secret to reversing your blood-sugar dysfunction or diabetes, and achieving long-term success.

The current medical system is phenomenal for acute care and emergencies. However, it woefully falls short, in terms of preventing chronic disease. Don’t wait for a disease to take root, then try to fix it. Diabetes is a food-based disease. Change your diet (i.e., reduce carbs), and you’ll quickly improve your insulin dysfunction and blood-sugar control—even if it means going against the grain.

(This article originally appeared @Paleohacks)

Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS

(Note: If you currently suffer from diabetes (type-2), find a doctor in your area that supports a low-carb approach. Then you can reverse your condition.)

Want to learn more? Listen to obesity and diabetes expert Dr. Jason Fung MD talk "Nutrition & Fasting" to reverse diabetes on the Dr. Bubbs Performance Podcast...

7 Smart Snack Options During Travel Days

1_Snacks_Travel.png

Eating on the go can be tricky. If you’re trying to trim body-fat, it takes time and effort to develop new eating habits, and it can be stressful when you can’t find an option to fit your new lifestyle. Likewise, if you’re training intensely in preparation for a big event or competition, it’s frustrating if you don’t have time to meal prep and get stuck with no solid nutrition options during the day. Regardless of whether you’re traveling through airports, fueling up at highway gas stations on a road trip, or stranded at the office, finding the right snack can be a challenge.

Before you dial in your snacking strategy, take a step back and examine your goals. Are you trying to get leaner? Are you looking to improve performance? Is upgrading your health your top priority? Your ultimate goal will impact the type of snack you choose, how much you should consume, and if eating a snack is even the best option.

If your goal is to burn fat and shed bodyweight, reach for high-protein, low-carb, and moderate fat snacks. Protein is the key macronutrient for triggering satiety, so it should be your top priority. If performance or hypertrophy is your goal, adding more calories to your day is important for training at intensity. Adding fats to your snacks will increase calorie count the quickest, and eating quality carbs will refill muscle glycogen and accelerate recovery.

Here is a list of my favorite snacks to help you reach your nutrition and performance goals.

#1 Jerky (Beef, Turkey, Chicken, Pork)

Jerky is my favorite high-protein snack option. It’s convenient, easy to carry, and tastes great. Jerky has made a big comeback recently, making it much easier to find antibiotic- and hormone-free brands with no additives, preservatives, red dyes, or MSG. A 1oz serving typically provides 12g of protein with only 5g of carbs. Jerky is typically very lean and contains little to no added fat.

#2 Nuts (Macadamia, Walnuts, Pistachios, Pecans, etc.)

While nuts do contain modest amounts of protein think of them as more of a fat snack. Pound for pound, macadamia and walnuts pack the biggest omega-3 punch.1 Combining nuts with jerky makes a great low-carb, high-protein, and moderate-fat snack between meals. Other low-carb nut options include pecans and Brazil nuts (just over 1g per handful), as well as hazelnuts and peanuts (about 2.5g per handful). If you want more carbs for hypertrophy or performance, go for cashews or pistachios (one handful is about 9g and 6g, respectively).

#3 Mixed Veggies (Bell Peppers, Cucumber, Cherry Tomatoes)

If you’re trying to lose weight, keeping your blood sugars and blood sugar hormone insulin balanced is important for success. A lot of people think veggies are “boring,” but nothing could be further from the truth. They are incredibly nutrient-dense and low in calories, making them an awesome snack option to add to your arsenal. One bell pepper is only 20 calories and provides 134 percent of your daily vitamin C needs, or spice things up with sliced cucumber sprinkled with cumin.2 Grab a party tray at your local grocery store and snack on it throughout the week to mix things up.

#4 Dark Chocolate (70% or more)

It’s 3:00pm, you’re at work, and struggling to get through your day. Rather than reaching for a sugary, high-carb candy bar, switch gears and get a dark chocolate fix. Dark chocolate is a great low-carb alternative, and a great source of antioxidants, fiber, and minerals like magnesium, iron, potassium, and zinc.3 Aim for 1-2 squares to help get you through until dinner.

#5 Berries

Portable, convenient, and delicious, berries are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Raspberries and blackberries in particular are phenomenal sources of fiber; one cup provides 8-9g to help slow the release of sugars to provide sustained energy throughout the day. Berries also help to fight off chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and various forms of cancer.4

#6 Medjool Dates

For hypertrophy and optimal recovery from intense training, calories count. If you’re on the go, dried fruit can provide a calorie and nutrient-dense carb source to replenish glycogen and offset training-induced elevations in cortisol stress hormones. Medjool dates pack a great carb punch (only four provide a whopping 72g) as well as potassium, b-vitamins, vitamins A and K, iron, magnesium, and trace minerals.5

#7 Protein Bars

If you are trying to lose weight or upgrade your health, I wouldn’t put protein bars on the top of your snack list because they typically contain a significant amount of carbs and sugar to increase palatability. However, if you’re training intensely and performance or hypertrophy is your goal, then a protein bar can be a great option. Aim for 20g of protein per bar to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Avoid high fructose corn syrup, fractionated palm kernel oil, canola oil, artificial sweeteners like sucralose or acesulfame-potassium, and refined sugars like cane syrup and sugar alcohols (i.e., mannitol, erythritol, etc.) as they can trigger inflammation, weight gain, and disrupt the balance of your gut bacteria.6

Attack Your Snack With a Plan

Convenience is an important factor when choosing snacks. My favorites are jerky, nuts, and veggies for fat loss, and dried fruit, fruit, and high-carb nuts for hypertrophy and performance. The most difficult part of choosing solid travel snacks is ignoring the plethora of processed, refined and high sugar options around you. Have a game plan and you’ll be far more successful.

Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS

(This article originally appeared @BreakingMuscle)

 

Check out more articles in the SNACKING SERIES...

 

References

  1. Ros, E. “Health Benefits of Nut Consumption,” Nutrients 2(2010):652–682.
  2. Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.” National Institute of Health.
  3. Crozier S et al. “Cacao seeds are a ‘Super Fruit’: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products,” Chemistry Central Journal 5(2011):5
  4. Basu A et al. “Blueberries Decrease Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Obese Men and Women with Metabolic Syndrome,” The Journal of Nutrition 140(2010): 1582-1587. 2010.
  5. Yasin B et al. “Date Polyphenolics and Other Bioactive Compounds: A Traditional Islamic Remedy’s Potential in Prevention of Cell Damage, Cancer Therapies and Beyond,” International Journal of Molecular Science 17(2015):30075-90
  6. Buyken A et al. “Carbohydrate nutrition and inflammatory disease mortality in older adults,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 92(2010):634–43.

Very High Protein Diet For Fat Loss? (Science Says Bodybuilders Were Right!)

For decades, bodybuilders preparing for competitions consumed very high quantities of protein, while reducing calories into a negative caloric deficit, in an attempt to maintain (and even increase) lean muscle will dropping significant body-fat. Over that time, researchers and sport scientists have been skeptical of this approach, suggesting it’s far too much protein than is needed to promote effective weight loss. The research seems to be catching up to a time-tested, traditional strategy used in the bodybuilding community.

A new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the effects of two hypo-caloric diets on fat loss and lean muscle in people training regularly; one diet contained double the standard recommended daily protein intake and the other triple the recommended dose. The results were impressive. The group consuming 3x the daily requirements or 2.4g/kg bodyweight daily of protein had the greatest fat loss, as well as lean muscle gains, while consuming a hypo-caloric diet. (1)

One of the most common questions I get asked by clients trying to lose weight, after I suggest they increase their protein intake (sometimes dramatically), is whether it’s safe for their long-term health. We’ve been told for so long by doctors, dieticians and media to be weary of high protein diets because of suspected damage it might cause your kidneys and subsequently your health. These myths get repeated so often they seem real; however in this case, nothing could be further from the truth.


Dr. Stuart Phillips from McMaster University and world expert on protein metabolism has repeatedly stated that in healthy functioning kidneys, there are absolutely no adverse impacts on your kidney health. New research shows people consuming up to 3.0g/kg (well above the 2.4g/kg in the aforementioned study) of protein daily for an entire year show with no negative impacts on kidney function.(2) To summarize, a high protein intake is not bad for your kidneys, end of story.

So, how can you get started implementing this into your routine?

First, don’t be intimidated by the total amount of protein, For example, a 176-lb. (80kg) male would have to aim for 192g of protein per day, while a 150-lb. (68kg) female would shoot for 163g daily. For most people, that’s a lot of protein. Start with the first meal of your day and increase the protein you eat at breakfast; add another egg or two to your omelets, or another scoop of protein to your morning smoothie. Once you get accustomed to this, you can increase your portion sizes at lunch and dinner, or add higher protein snacks between meals, like grass-fed jerky, natural protein bars or shakes.

If weight loss or getting leaner is your goal this year, take a lesson the bodybuilding community has known for decades, significantly increasing your protein intake is a fantastic way to burn fat and build muscle. Don’t be afraid of protein. In combination with exercise and hypo-caloric diet you’ll be lean and looking great in no time.

Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS

 

Check out more articles in the "PROTEIN" SERIES...