Sunday Shutdown Series

#26 Gluten

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The reason this has come about is purely through anecdotal results. That’s when individual people report “I cut out gluten and I lost weight, or my digestive problems stopped or I just feel better”.⠀

What do we know?⠀

That people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease should not consume gluten. There are also people who may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, this means they have an acute reaction to gluten, but not full blown celiac disease and also shouldn’t consume it. You can also have an allergy to things like wheat or rye which contain gluten and these can be tested for. Other than those groups of people, there is no reason why gluten needs to be avoided and can form part of a healthy diet. It shouldn’t be labelled as bad or have fear associated with it.⠀

But why do people report feeling good when they cut it from their diet?

One of the main reasons this can occur is not from the act of removing gluten itself but from the act of making a change to their diet in general. Gluten is found in many products. A lot of those products are things we as humans find easy to consume a lot of. Bread, pasta, processed snacks. By removing these foods not only are you removing gluten but also removing a large proportion of food you more than likely were eating too much of. This in turn may also result in some fat loss, as in essence you are consuming less calories than you were beforehand.⠀

Just an idea, but rather than cut it out, try to consume less of it. This is harder than it sounds, we’ve all smelt the fresh loaf of sourdough and ended up eating more than we should have. But how about⠀
– halving your portion of pasta and adding in some greens⠀
– having an open sandwich with one slice of bread⠀
– or trying to consume bread at one meal a day only⠀

There have been no scientific studies in healthy individuals showing an inflammatory or negative effect on health when consuming a diet containing gluten. Just because something is gluten free that doesn’t mean it’s healthy, arsenic is gluten free and it can kill you!

#25 Green tea

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Commonly assumed as a master of all teas with benefits such as improved skin, assistance with weight loss and speeding up metabolism. But just what is the deal with this green hot beverage?

Let’s tackle the weight loss claim first. For something to aid weight loss, specifically fat loss, then it must be able to impact or change the energy balance equation. What that means is that it makes the calories you consume disappear faster or in fact make your body absorb less of them in general. Green tea contains caffeine, and we know that caffeine can be used to improve performance and may even slightly suppress appetite in some people. However, the impact caffeine actually has burning more calories is minimal. And let’s remember green tea has less caffeine than standard tea or coffee. It’s also important to note that any relevant clinical studies in relation to green tea, have actually looked at the caffeine content rather than the tea itself.

You may experience skin benefits, however they are likely to be from the fact you are more hydrated than you were previously. If you suddenly introduce green tea into your diet and don’t change anything else, you will be consuming more fluid. This is exactly the same as if you added in 4 cups of hot water with lemon or any other flavoured tea.

As green tea has been marketed for so long as a super tea, it may subconsciously influence your choices. This is known as you having more health seeking behaviours. What that means is, if you start doing one thing you believe is better for you, then you are more likely to add on a few other healthy habits too, like eating more fruit and vegetables or consume smaller portions of food.

I hope that clears it up. Green tea is not magical but can form part of a healthy diet.

#24 Activated charcoal

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Have you seen those black croissants that were all the rage in London last year? Made with activated charcoal and supposedly great for your health. They just looked burnt in my opinion. ⠀

I call bullsh*t on this for one final time. And am done with it. ⠀
Charcoal is used to stop poison or drugs being absorbed by the body when an individual has had a drug overdose or acute poisoning). That does not imply it in any way will benefit individual health, ie/ remove toxins from your body. Please refer to last weeks #sundayshutdown on detoxing for info on that one 🤓⠀

It is also sometimes used as a teeth whitening agent. ⠀

There is absolutely no clinical evidence that consuming this black stuff will have any benefit on your gut health, your digestion, your skin or weight loss. Because you know, everything these days is good for weight loss 🙄⠀

When I searched the clinical literature there were zero studies on it. ZERO. ⠀

I’m all for innovation with food, in fact it’s part of my job but the claims that come associated with some of this stuff just leads people astray and gets them to believe in things that are simply unfounded.

Don’t be an idiot 👍🏻⠀

#23 The detox

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Hands up, I’ve used this term before, I’m pretty sure most of us have. However the truth is that #detoxingyour body from food simply does not work. Humans have these organs called kidneys and a liver and their main functions are to remove toxins from the body. They basically filter out all the nasty stuff that our bodies don’t need. They are our detoxing system.⠀

Yet, we still buy into claims of detox teas, shakes, meal plans, juices and diets. Detox is a fancy marketing term used to play on our emotions and make us feel guilty about eating normal food. It makes us feel that by consuming this product we will be doing the right thing by our body, it will make us healthier and may even result in weight loss. Ideally we don’t want to detox our gut as it contains millions of bacteria which actually enhance our digestion, we need those little critters in there to keep us in good shape.⠀

A lot of the time when you do a detox cleanse or diet, yes you will lose weight and you may even feel great, but I can assure you it has nothing to do with the so called detox. You’ll lose weight because you won’t be eating, and therefore aren’t consuming calories. However you won’t just lose fat you’ll also lose muscle mass which isn’t a good thing. Especially as we age when maintaining muscle mass becomes even more difficult. You will also lose any excess water that may be stored in your body. Many of these products also don’t contain the magical herbal ingredients they claim to, they actually contain laxatives. So, the scales may tell you you’ve lost 7 pounds in 7 days, but not all of that will be fat, and when you go back to eating the scales will go back up.⠀

By law, the term detox is not allowed to be used to describe a food or beverage, a very well know tea company have just had to remove a product of theirs from sale because it breaks advertising laws. .
So please don’t do a detox. If you’ve had a few days or weeks of unusual eating patterns try increasing your fruit and veg intake for a while and drink some more water, that’s a good place to start. Don’t invest your money is these expensive fad products that will do little for your health in the long term.

#22 Vitamin drips

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I spoke about these in my stories earlier this week but for those who missed it here’s a pretty short and sharp update for you.⠀

There are various companies now offering infusion drips and booster shots that claim to improve your health for all types of reasons. From making you fitter, slimmer, boosting energy, topping up vitamin levels and most recently improving your chances of fertility there is no truth behind any of this. In fact, @getadrip in London were made to remove their #fertilitydrip because there is no science supporting it. I’m waiting for the rest to follow…⠀

Let’s just think about this shall we, you pay a couple of hundred pounds of your hard earned cash for someone in a shop to put a needle in your arm which can help make you slim 🤔⠀

Guys and gals please use your critical brain to second guess this stuff. Drips should be used in hospitals, they are there for people who are sick and need help. Not a quick fix for your body.⠀

Becoming fitter, losing weight and striving for optimum health takes time, probably longer than you think. It’s not easy. You have to put the effort in and get the right support to help you. And a drip is not supporting you.⠀

Finally give your body the respect it deserves by looking after it in the long term, rather than an afternoon. It will thank-you for consistently eating more fibre and vegetables than being infused with vitamin B12 for a few hours.⠀

#20 The sweet vs the standard potato

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This one’s a goodie, what’s the deal with sweet potato being the best thing since sliced bread? And is it actually? Why have we shied away from the traditional spud?⠀

Sweet potatoes found their fame as part of the low carb movement, which negatively impacted our love of potatoes. It’s now commonplace to see sweet potato fries, mash, hash, roasties and even noodles 🙈⠀
🍠Sweet potatoes contain less calories than standard potatoes. It’s negligible really in the grand scheme of things. A favourite chain of chicken restaurants sell both chips and sweet potatoes wedges, there is a 50 calorie difference between the two. Ask yourself if it’s worth the sacrifice. 🍠They also contain less protein and yes, less carbohydrates. But certainly not none!⠀
🍠However, it’s worth noting they are called sweet potatoes for a reason, and their carbohydrate makeup is higher in sugar than their standard friends.⠀

🥔 Regular potatoes contain more resistant starch which becomes available for the gut to benefit from when you cook and then cook them. So potato salad is a winner here!
🥔 They are also a great source of vitamin C⠀
🥔 Potatoes often get a bad wrap about their GI (which is the amount they raise blood sugar after consumption). However whilst they are classed as high GI, and sweet potatoes are low GI the truth of the matter is very rarely do we consume potatoes in isolation. We consume them with other foods too, which will impact their GI, it also depends how they are cooked. So GI is kind of irrelevant. ⠀

I’d recommend always keeping the skin on whatever the spud you choose. It might be different from your “normal” but the skins contain extra fibre, also great for the gut.⠀

So you can enjoy both, and I certainly wouldn’t advise sacrificing the traditional spud for it’s sweeter variety just because you think it’s healthier for you. Or because you are trying to lose weight.

#19 Starvation mode

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I’ve been asked this countless times and after last weeks poll, it was a clear winner for this weeks topic. Is there such a thing as starvation mode? Why do I suddenly just plateau even though I am barely eating. I promise I am still in a calorie deficit. Is this starvation mode?

When you lose weight your basal metabolic rate decreases. This is the amount of energy you need to simply just stay alive. As you become lighter, it becomes lower.

Also when you become lighter your body becomes more efficient, this often happens without you knowing. You adapt to what you have been eating and your body learns how to spend less energy. Like when you travel the same way to work each day, and then someone tells you about a short cut, you adapt.

You will, unknowingly fidget less, you are more likely to walk less and use less hand gestures. You facial tone may even change if you have been dieting for a long time.

When you are eating very little, you will also be tired. When you are tired, it’s a lot more difficult to be motivated.

The very well known Minnesota study, conducted by Ancel Keys in 1944-45 during WWII investigated the effects of severe dieting. The study was small with only 36 participants (which is worth noting) and it was broken down into three phases:
▪️Control phase, where data was collected for each person involved in the study, 3 months
▪️Starvation phase, where the individuals were starved for 6 months.
▪️Recovery phase, 3 months
This study demonstrated some of the points I have mentioned above, it also demonstrated detrimental psychological effects, including diminished sex drive. What is also showed, in some subjects, was oedema, the build up of water. Which if you are using the scales a measure of body fat won’t tell you either way. The subjects had a 40% reduction energy expenditure (calories burned) of which they calculated 25% was due to weight loss and 15% was due to their bodies adapting.

So no, starvation mode is not a thing. Just think about the term ‘starvation’ and what it means. Now think about how that relates to fat loss. If you are genuinely consuming fewer calories than you are using you will continue to lose fat. However as our body weight gets lower and lower, what you thought was originally a calorie deficit, is now in fact your maintenance calories. When you weigh less you need fewer calories to live day to day.

There are of course strategies to help you overcome this and work towards your goal. For further info or support on this get in touch.

#18 Fasted or Fed

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In light of yesterday’s insta story I wanted to elaborate a little on this one.⠀

Many people (still) believe that exercising first thing in the morning, or in a fasted state means they will burn more calories and therefore lose fat faster.⠀

Sorry to break it to ya folks but this simply isn’t true and the evidence certainly doesn’t support it.⠀

Firstly, imagine you currently enjoy exercising after work and manage 4 sessions a week. But then John from customer services tells you if you exercise as soon as you wake up in the morning you’ll lose fat faster. So you try to get up earlier but because you hate mornings and it’s not your thing you only manage 2 sessions a week. That means less sessions and less progress at the detriment of your goal. Still with me?⠀

Science wise, a meta analysis conducted in 2017 by Hackett and Hagstrom found that exercising in a fasted state didn’t improve fat loss. The main contributing factor, unsurprisingly, was creating a consistent calorie deficit.⠀

Prior to this a study from 2014 by Schoenfeld et al, which was included in the above meta analysis, also found no advantage of fasted cardio vs fed for fat loss. In both groups (fasted and fed) calorie intake was quite low and both groups lost weight irrespective of when they did their exercise.⠀

So, point in question, exercise when it works for you because that will lead to a consistent calorie deficit over time resulting in fat loss. It also means you are more likely to actually do it and reap the other benefits for your overall health! Question anyone who tells you anything different.

#17 Food or exercise for fat loss?

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #17 FOOD OR EXERCISE FOR FAT LOSS: I hear it quite a lot “yeah but I’ve started exercising and I’m still not losing weight.”⠀

Truth is, for fat loss what you put in your mouth is going to have the biggest impact. For most people, it’s easier to be in control of what you eat and drink and make positive changes there. Don’t get me wrong generally being more active, walking more, not sitting down for endless hours, hitting a minimum of 10,000 steps a day before you do any exercise is also going to contribute. The food is where you need to start. ⠀

So, what does the literature tell us? ⠀

In the long term exercise is more likely to help us maintain our weight. So it’s a good habit to build. And at a time when you are motivated to make changes, that could also be the right time to start finding something you love doing, movement wise.⠀

In the short term exercise will help to improve your body composition. As a result of lifting weights consistently you will become stronger.⠀

The research also tells us that when we do complete strenuous physical exercise we are likely to consume more food because we are actually hungrier. Your body knows this. And it will want you to in essence, refuel. ⠀

Some perspective courtesy of @one.angry.chef recent book the truth about fat:⠀

Running on a treadmill for half an hour will burn circa 300-400 calories (depending on your weight and intensity) yet half an avocado on two slices of medium toast has about 450 calories. So you can see it doesn’t take much to negate that run in the first place.⠀

For health. Now that’s a different story. Exercise for health. Yes. Exercise because it reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Exercise because it allows your mind to relax. Exercise for social reasons. Exercise because it makes you feel great!

But please don’t think you can burn off all your food or because you’ve #workedout everyday this week you’ve got a licence to eat more than you physically need.
📸 from yesterday’s BBQ!