Thursday, 30 January 2014

Whats the best thing for weight loss.

“What`s the best thing for losing weight?”, I have heard this question so often and most likely it is the question you want to have answered. First let me backtrack I have spent a great deal of time learning about the body, working out and most things to do with health and fitness. This will culminate in a Masters in Exercise Physiology soon to be completed in the next month.  I am also a qualified P.E teacher and a training competing athlete. I have worked with people from high level athletes to the little old lady that needs to be able to lift her grocery`s.  Of all of the things that dominate the world of health and fitness, obesity is the biggest of them all (no pun intended).  

So back to the question “what is the best thing for losing weight?” this is a broad question and I’ll assume that you want to lose body fat and look and feel better.  Losing fat mass and being healthier ,because that is what we should aim for is a matter of behavior change. Right now you say so “how do I do that?” Behavior change is a complex thing but I will aim to simplify it for you. Firstly lets break it down, what is weight gain is caused by? Often weight gain is due to eating too much making poor eating choices and a lack of physical activity. So what do we do about that? Well something I am passionate about is keeping a food diary. 

First though let’s look at this more logically for example a man eats 1800 calories a day and exercises for 30minutes he burns 200 calories. He then goes and eats a chocolate bar that`s 241 calories.  It becomes a little bit clearer that what and how much we eat makes a bigger impact to our waist line then most exercise an average person may undertake. There is an old saying “you can`t train away a bad diet”. Now let me make this clear this isn`t a license to not exercise in fact diet and exercise go hand in hand. In this post though I am focusing on keeping a food diary.  A couple of extra reasons to keep a diary includes a recent study that lasted for six months published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found those that kept a food diary lost twice as much weight as those that didn`t. Furthermore keeping a food diary has been shown to increase the chances of losing the weight and keeping it off. A food diary can also provide insight into what you eat and what is really going into your body. So should you keep a diary in a note book? Well you can but my advice is to use technology. There are literally dozens of apps and programs for computers that are simple and effective.  These apps and programs are often free and provide easy to access food databases and information displays. Often you will find that they will be able to track food intake and exercise. The two I have had experience with is Myfitnesspal and Mapmyfitness programs. These are both accessible on multiple platforms and are free. 

Let me start with Mapmyfitness I started using this to log both my food and my exercise  and it has an easy to access menu and is easy to navigate. I found it a little bit less user friendly for the food diary portion and this was the main purpose for me to use this app. The exercise section though is great. It contains a lot of different choices and allows you to put in many selections of activity.  Something that is handy is the ability to take on fitness challenges that can often be set in your local area. How? Map my fitness has the ability for you to map a route that you take and it can tell you cool statistics like your elevation and ascent. Of course a big factor in weight loss is support and this app has the function to share your achievements with your friends and support network. 

But what about Myfitnesspal well I have been using this app for a few years now and I think it`s great. It is simple and effective. Mapmyfitness tends to be a bit overwhelming at times and for those that are used to in some degree to using a smart phone or computers this will be easy to use. The data base is quite large so more often than not you can find the food or brand you are looking for. During set up you set your weight goal and activity levels as well as the usual information. You can also choose how many meals you have and what nutritional information you see. The drawback I have found is the exercise portion is lacking a little bit. The choices of exercise are limited and though it calculates the calories burnt it can be quite off in either direction.  I tend to use a heart rate monitor to get around this and more on this in the future.  My fitness pal is redeemed by being able to input your own recipes and share your diary with other people if you wish. For me I have always advised using myfitnesspal because it is simple to use. The results for people I have worked with are always positive when they use myfitnesspal as part of their weight loss. 

A few other things though when using either program you should measure your food so you’re accurate and try to keep notes. Make using it a habit as this will take discipline but you will be rewarded much like exercising with discipline. Believe it or not keeping a diary makes you more aware and responsible and more likely to achieve you S.M.A.R.T goals. Lastly if you are thinking I don’t want to choose you can always use booth. Both programs can now be linked so you have the best of both worlds. So visit and now and improve your health now. Only you can achieve your own goals, no one can do it for you.

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