What will work for you?
When people ask me a question such as -
• Is coffee good or bad?
• What is the best training programme to lose fat?
• Should I follow a low carb diet?
My answer is always the same. It depends.
Have a look at the following example.
A and B are 35, mates from university but now have very different lives. A is a primary school teacher, married with young twins. B works in private equity, is single and has no intention of settling down. They are both buying new cars.
B has just bought a Ferrari and is loving every minute of it - right for him, obviously wrong for A. The car as it too expensive and is totally impractical. It doesn't match his specifications. The two also have different pension plans and mortgages that reflect their personal requirements too.
You may be thinking - what's your point Jackanory? Am I having a dig at the private sector? Have I decided to take up creative writing? If so, you would probably say stick to the day job.
My point is that in this situation it is clear that A and B have totally different solutions for their individual needs.
So why might A (5'7 with sloping shoulders, a thick, robust build, who mainly stores a lot of fat on his stomach, back and thighs and has trouble losing fat) end up following a programme that worked well for B (6'2, long limbed, stores little fat on his arms and chest and can eat whatever he likes whilst staying relatively thin)?
This happens a lot more commonly than people buying the wrong car but the parameters are not that different.
Everyone is unique. Let's have a look at some of the variables that impact on exercise, nutrition and supplemental advice:
1. Where do you store fat (back, arms, stomach, legs)
2. Where do you store fat (in case you missed it)
3. What is your somatotype (your build)
4. What is your fibre type (are you better at power or endurance)
5. What is your training age (how long have you been training)
6. How many hours a week can you commit to training
7. How have you been training since you started
8. How old are you
9. What does your diet look like
10. How do you sleep
11. Are you structurally balanced (think posture and muscle ratios to one another)
12. How willing are you to implement change
13. How able are you implement change
14. Do you have injuries
15. What is your objective? Strength, fat loss, posture, flexibility, building muscle or endurance. Or a bit of all of them.
You can see that generic exercise plans are hit and miss. As I mentioned in my last article, most women will make a positive initial adaption to resistance training. It is new to the body. However, you need specificity after the honeymoon period.
I have helped different people to lose weight because I deal with the individual. You might argue that if everyone ate less and did more exercise then they would lose weight. In my experience, it is not that simple. Many people try in vain to lose fat because they are not following the most suitable system for their needs.
There is one myth I would like to dispel about losing body fat. You cannot spot reduce fat with exercise. What does that mean? Exercising a particular body part such as triceps will not lead to reduced fat deposits in that area. Bingo wings? You can do tricep exercises until your arms seize up. Won't work. Spare tyre that won't shift? Sit ups are not the answer. The only way that you can lose fat is to balance your hormones.
It takes the guesswork out of the process. Should you drink coffee? What type or rep ranges should you focus on? How many carbs should you eat?
Whilst I gingerly climb off my soap box, let us look at some answers.
Here are some basic rules to follow
• If you store fat on your back, insulin is the issue i.e. it is a reflection of your genetic tolerance to carbohydrates i.e. the more fat you have, the fewer carbs you should be eating (until it drops.) Eat a broad spectrum of fats, protein and nuts plus don't think low carbs means eating like a sparrow.
• If you struggle with fat on the back of your arms, take steps to improve your testosterone. More good quality protein, lowered exposure to oestrogen (more next time), increase lower rep resistance training and get more sleep.
• If you have fat deposition on your stomach, cortisol (stress is the key) stay away from stimulants (coffee), avoid inflammatory carbs (think irritation not combustion i.e. white goods) and drink more water. Resistance training is also a great way to reduce stress.
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