As a personal trainer, I have a responsibility to my clients to provide them with the best advice, based on up-to-date science. I recently watched a video interview from some young personal trainers on #wasteboook and the advice they provided about health and nutrition has prompted me to write this article.
As far as I’m concerned the advice some trainers are providing, and the intense training they are putting their clients through, as if everyone is the same, is based on old principles and old science. The problem is that almost anyone can become a personal trainer these days. With government funding supporting these courses, and the amount of gyms supporting these personal trainers, I think it’s getting worse.
In my opinion there is not enough content covering nutrition on the Accredited Personal Trainers Courses in Australia, certainly not enough to provide the proper advice to someone who has had weight problems for years. Because of this, the advice provided can actually do more damage than good. This includes, injuries through high intensity workouts that often lack appropriate techniques; and elevated cortisol (stress hormone) levels day-after-day, session-after-session, which often leads to adrenal fatigue, weight gain, self-doubt, depression, anxiety, and binge eating.
As a fully qualified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, Advanced Level 1 Les Mills RPM Instructor, Spin Coach, a USA and Australian Triathlon Coach, and currently ranked number one in my age group 50-54 in the AWA Ironman 70.3 rankings, I do know a little about exercise and nutrition (About me). But, I don’t pretend to know it all, and I turn to the real experts in their fields for guidance.
With help from these experts, I am going to correct some nutritional advice provided by some young personal trainers. After four years of restructuring my approach to nutrition and reading an extensive list of books I have decided to collate much of what I have learned in order to save you four years of research. If after reading this article you do decide to fundamentally challenge your beliefs on training and nutrition (thanks Prof Noakes) you should book some time to talk to me.
Statement one: “The healthiest people in the world consume more than 70% carbs.”
Dr Jason Fung says, the reason why traditional societies can eat high carb diets without showing signs of obesity or diabetes is because these carbs are unrefined and unprocessed, which means they are very high in fibre, which is the protective mechanism of the food. Carbohydrates in their natural, whole, unprocessed form, always contain fibre. But, dietary proteins and fats contain little to no fibre because our bodies have evolved to digest these foods without the need for fibre. The Okinawans, base their diet on sweet potato and consume an estimated 80% of their calories as carbohydrate. The fibre content in the sweet potato protects against obesity. Until recently, they were one of the longest-living peoples on earth. The Kitavans of New Guinea followed a diet estimated to be close to 70% carbohydrate with no evidence of ill health. Traditional Italians make their own pasta from flour that they grind themselves, this flour still contains fibre, fat, and protein. It is the introduction of the Western diet into these traditional societies that has caused the chaos. Here is a summary of the impact of the Western Diet.
The Western diet:
- Due to high processing, the protective mechanisms of fibre and fat are removed from the products.
- Fibre is removed to change the texture, and make food taste ‘better’. Natural fats are removed to extend shelf life since fats tend to go rancid with time.
- Removing fibre, fat and protein leads to over consumption. We can consume four to five oranges easily in a glass of orange juice, whereas eating four to five oranges in their whole form won’t be as easy.
- We have satiety hormones for fat and protein, but not for carbs, so we don’t know when we have eaten enough if we are just eating refined carbs.
- Refined carbohydrates are digested much faster than they would be if they contained the fibre – this leads to a rapid rise in insulin. Look at the wheat plant in its natural state compared to its highly refined powdered form. All of the fat, protein and fibre is removed.
- Refined wheat flour is so bad for us because it is converted to glucose more efficiently than virtually any other starch.
- Wheat is also one of the main grains that is sprayed with chemicals to make it ripen faster – these chemicals cause massive problems in our bodies.
- The processing of foods and the addition of chemicals changes the food into a form that our bodies are not evolved to handle. That is exactly why they are toxic.
Statement two: “Bread is not the enemy. Why deprive yourself of something you love?”
Dr Tom O’Bryan says, “No human has the enzymes to fully digest the proteins of wheat, rye, and barley. These grains will cause inflammation and intestinal permeability every time they are eaten. Dr Alessio Fasano conducted research at Harvard University and recently published a paper that showed that gluten in wheat causes intestinal permeability in every human. His team studied four populations; recently diagnosed coeliacs, coeliac patients in remission, non-coeliac gluten sensitivity patients, and patients with no sensitivity to gluten, amazingly in his conclusion he states that “increased intestinal permeability after gliadin exposure occurs in all individuals.”
Statement three: “You can’t eliminate a whole food group from your diet.”
Prof Noakes says, “Humans do not have any essential requirement for dietary carbohydrate. Humans cannot survive unless they include fat and protein in their diets. But carbohydrate serves only two functions in humans – it must be either burned as an energy fuel or stored as fat; it cannot be used to build any of the body’s structures.”
Statement four: “Carbs aren’t the problem, you’re eating too many calories.”
Prof Noakes says, “Weight gain cannot occur without the ingestion of more calories than are needed by the body. In this sense the energy balance model of obesity is correct. But the point is that the over-ingestion of calories cannot occur if the brain appestat is functioning properly, as it did until 1980. The appestat of the obese must fail because it is especially susceptible to the appetite-stimulating effects of high-carbohydrate foods, especially those found in modern processed foods that are designed with the single goal that they are highly addictive. It is those addictive foods that have invaded the human food chain in the past 30 years.”
Statement five: “Eating less and exercising more is the key to weight loss.”
Ben Greenfield “Eating less does not create the need to burn body fat. Instead, it creates the need for the body to slow down. Contrary to popular opinion, the body hangs on to body fat. Instead, it burns muscle tissue, and that worsens the underlying cause of obesity. Only as a last resort, if the body has no other option, it may also burn a bit of body fat. When you are starving your metabolism wants more stored energy and body fat is the greatest source of stored energy – so it holds onto it. Your tissues burn a lot of calories so when your metabolism thinks you’re starving it gets rid of calorie-hungry muscle tissue. Studies show that up to 70% of the weight lost while eating less comes from burning muscle – not body fat.”
Tim Rice says, “The old disproven “calories in vs. calories out” model of weight loss simply doesn’t work and does not account for the differing hormonal effects of varying macronutrients. It is much more likely that an overweight person has eaten too much of the wrong kinds of foods and unfortunately, due to misguided nutritional advise given out by most healthcare providers, they don’t even know what the wrong kinds of foods are.”
Prof Noakes says, “Persons with insulin resistance have a reduced capacity to burn carbohydrates as fuel both during exercise and when at rest. Humans differ in the ease with which they will gain weight when exposed to a high-carbohydrate diet.”
Tim Rice says, “Obesity is a slow, degenerative, metabolic process of gradually increasing degrees of insulin resistance. No one just wakes up one day to discover that they are obese. The simplistic “eat less, move more = weight loss” was conceived under the notion that all calories behave the same in our bodies.”
Statement six: “Eating all that fat will make you fat.”
Dr Jason Fung says:
- Fat alone does not spike insulin; it is the protein in the fat that spikes the insulin, for example, dairy products.
- Eating fat with other foods tends to decrease glucose and insulin spikes.
- If we look at protein such as meat, chicken, eggs, and fish, they all contain fat, which is Mother Nature’s way of including the protective mechanism.
- Fat keeps you fuller for longer.
Dr. Aseem Malhotra says that “it’s about the quality of the research – Cambridge Medical Research Council did a very big study, with over 600 thousand participants, which concluded that saturated fat could be part of a healthy diet as long as you’re getting the rest of it right. Cut out refined carbs and sugar, have the vegetables, the olive oil, the nuts, the oily fish and some meat. Fat is very satiating and has the least impact on insulin responses.”
“Too much refined carbohydrates — white bread, white rice, potato products — all the foods that crept into our diets as we’ve followed the low-fat craze has undermined our metabolism. In other words, the high-carb, low-fat pattern of eating caused us to become hungrier and burn off fewer calories. It’s a double-whammy for weight gain. We’ve been told for decades that if you don’t want fat on your body, don’t put fat into your body. It’s a very appealing notion, but the problem is it’s wrong,” says Dr David Ludwig
In conclusion, it’s important to look at all aspects of the human body when it comes to health and exercise. Below I have provided a summary of key points to consider before embarking on a health and lifestyle change.
Each individual is unique and although one individual may be able to utilise carbohydrates effectively, another may not. Listen to your body, think about how your body reacts to what you feed it. Choose your carbohydrates wisely – select whole, unprocessed carbs with fibre instead of refined carbs. If you are going to be eating carbohydrates make sure that you are using them for fuel, otherwise they will be stored as fat, particularly if you’re insulin resistant. Avoid wheat at all costs as it causes damage to all individuals.
You can’t outrun your Insulin or a bad approach to nutrition.
Exercising more and eating less is just going to make you hungry, which in the long run is an unsustainable approach because eventually you’ll revert to your previous way of eating and put all of the weight back on, and possibly more. This happens because the body reacts to weight loss by trying to return to its original body set weight.
Once you stop being hungry all the time you will easily lose weight.
The first step to getting lean is to get the appestat working again. You’ll know that it is working correctly because you won’t be hungry. If you’re lean, it means that your appestat is functioning perfectly. If you are overweight, it’s because your appestat is not working. Eating processed carbs distorts the appestat, and tells you to eat more than you should, which makes you put on weight, and keeps you hungry.
Reduce the amount of carbs in your diet and increase the fat to keep you satiated. “Banting works so effectively in so many because it quietens the appestat so that calorie consumption drops without hunger and weight is lost effortlessly.” Prof Noakes
I’ve helped many people lose weight and keep it off by following the principles above. Let me guide you to your optimal health and ideal weight. The approach I take is based on the Real Meal Revolution’s four-phased approach to weight loss, as a Certfied Low Carb Healthy Fats Coach. I included one-on-one coaching sessions that will help you make the mindset change to really optimise your life.
Below is a breakdown of the coaching format I use with the Real Meal Revolution.
- Observation. “Is what you are currently eating making you sick?” In this week you track your food and monitor your reactions to the food you eat. Being mindful is key to this phase. Becoming aware of the inate intelligence of your body is an important capability we will develop.
- Restoration. In this phase we commence the education of the history of the nutritional guidelines and how as a society we have got to where we are today. We also start to put structure into your eating by providing you with weekly meal plans, recipes, the tools you will need, as well as weekly one-on-one mind-set and nutrition coaching focussed on your goals. We removed all processed foods, sugar, and alcohol from your diet, and place emphasis on whole foods and restoring your gut health.
- Transformation. In this phase we reduce the amount of carbohydrates you eat and we continue with the education and coaching. Transformation is where you will generally lose the most weight.
- The last Phase is what we term the maintenance phase. This is where you will continue your journey for life. In this phase many of my clients start to share their stories and bring new people into the program.
References that may help you:
Real Meal Revolution Book pages 269, 270, 271
About the Author
Andre Obradovic is a USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach, Triathlon Australia Development Coach, ICF Leadership PPC Level Coach, A Primal Health Coach, a Certified Low Carb Healthy Fat Coach and Certified Personal Trainer. He is a passionate triathlete and marathoner in the 50-54 age group. He also is a registered member of Fitness Industry in Australia and works at 3 gyms.