Happy New Year everyone.

I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and New Year break. As we kickstart 2015 I am going to spend this week briefly recapping a few key points so that you can maximise this time of year.

We are talking weight loss today.

Above all else, let's get it clear what we are trying to achieve. We are trying to reduce fatty tissue (bodyfat) and maintain lean tissue. This can be measured by the scales but a better indication is to measure the waistline circumference. This indicates visceral fat, the fat stored around the internal organs which is harmful to health. According to the latest NHS guidelines we want our waist to be below 37 inches for a man and below 31.5 inches for a woman.

It is important to make this distinction because Body Mass Index (BMI) targets are becoming slightly outdated for general health. Someone could be very low body fat but carrying more muscle, the extra muscle weight may actually be beneficial to their health but the BMI would suggest they need to lose weight.

Other than waist circumference another good way to track changes in body fat is to take photographs of yourself. You will see the difference in shape, tone and definition as you improve. This is also a hugely rewarding motivation as you can track your progress. When we see ourselves everyday the changes can be so subtle but if you take a picture, you have a set mark. Take another one in four weeks and check for the difference.

So now we know what we are looking at, let's start with we the basics. To lose weight we have to eat less than we burn, this is called energy balance.

To increase in weight we take in more than we burn.
To lose weight we take in less than we burn.
To maintain weight we take in the same as we burn.

This seems common sense but there are a number of common mistakes we can avoid to boost our chances of success.

To start with, lets look at the thyroid. This is the body's way of regulating energy turnover. If intake is high, turnover is high. If intake is low, turnover slows down. Take this month as an example. It's January, we've had Christmas where we are typically doing little and eating a lot, and then we hang up the new calendar hit the gym or exercise programme and start starving ourselves. The body does not like it and thyroid hormone crashes.

As the thyroid slows down you start to turnover less energy. You'll feel this too, you suddenly won't want to train - you might not feel like eating, you start to feel tired and sluggish. The body is only protecting itself, at a base level it thinks you are starving to death and if it slows down nutrient turnover then you will last longer. You would still lose weight but not as quickly and you won't feel half as good!

We prevent this scenario by firstly following three important steps.

1) Clean up (not cut!) and rebalance our food intake.

2) Look at your lifestyle to improve hormonal performance.

3) Introduce physical activity gradually.

Step 1 today. Clean up and rebalance our food intake. This does not mean cutting our calories down dramatically. What we do first is look at the types food we are currently eating and consider it against our needs.

This means we need to look at the quality of the food we are eating. We rely on food to fuel us and repair & maintain our bodies. The better the quality of the food the better it will serve us -something fresh that would rot if we left it on the side in the kitchen for a few days will carry more nutritional value than something that was put into a tin or packet many moons ago.

Try and pick foods that look like what they are. We call these foods single ingredient foods. A potato is a potato, it is not powdered and in a packet to be added to water. Single ingredient foods are as nature intended, they have their original structure and they come with a full complement of digestive enzymes. This means that when they hit the gut they will be broken down and turned into useable molecules whether that is as fuel or for maintenance. If food is not correctly broken down then we cannot get the full benefit from it.

Increase protein intake. Protein is very important for the maintenance of the body and many people typically under eat on protein. The ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) guideline for weight loss is 1.6g/kg. This means that a 60kg person needs to be eating 96g (to work out your weight in kilograms take the weight in stone and times by 14, add the remaining pounds, and then divide by 2.2). If we do not hit this amount the body will not maintain and protect muscle tissue. If we are start to lose muscle tissue then we lose important fuel burners, burners that could be getting rid of bodyfat. If that happens, nutrient turnover will be lower. Protein comes from meat, poultry, eggs, fish, dairy and nuts.

Reduce our intake of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are one of our main sources of energy, if we reduce our intake of energy the body has to take energy from elsewhere. By becoming more active, we will encourage the body to take it from body fat stores. Reduce the quantities of rice, potatoes, pastas, and processed carbohydrates. Reduce the serving size you eat and always choose healthy, natural, single ingredient options such as brown & white rice, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, whole grain oats. Try and cut back on bread. Even wholemeal & wholegrain breads are likely to be lacking a full constituent of digestive enzymes and won't turnover properly in the gut. Eat natural foods wherever you can.

Include healthy fats. Eat more fish, meat, eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds & their oils. Fats are massively important to the maintenance of the body and are important to the synthesis of hormones. If we remove fats we can drastically effect our production of hormones and the efficiency at which our body operates. Again eat natural sources of fat, avoid modified versions with additives and preservatives.

Increase the amount of fruit & vegetables in the diet, current government guidelines say 5-A-Day, but as discussed in previous emails the optimal guidelines are 10-12 portions per day but they are aiming to stagger the increase. It was thought that if 10-12 portions were suggested people would baulk. Aim to eat more vegetables, eat a variety of colours and eat them as fresh as possible. Include veg alongside your meals, have a serving of veg alongside some meat or fish, where you might have previously had a large serving of carbs. Add some veg to eggs for an omelette for breakfast. Eat fruit but remember fruit is carbohydrate and will carry sugar which needs to be burned off. Eat smaller portions of fruit, such as berries and factor it in alongside your daily calories.

There you have a diet kickstart.

Eat real food, eat more protein, eat less sugary carbs, eat healthy fats, eat more veg. Drink plenty of water 2-3L per day and more if you are physically active.

As always if you have any questions or feedback please hit the reply button. Part 2 on Wednesday where we will discuss how you can make changes to your lifestyle to give yourself the best chances of health and hitting your fitness goals.

Have a great week and a fantastic 2015.

Best Regards
Chris Adams
Adfitness Personal Trainer