I can be very critical of diets and diet advice in the press. Most of it is bullsh*t and/or duplicated re-written or replicated cr*p. However, when it comes to huge organisations, such as the NHS, who are trusted by millions, you would expect their diet advice to be absolutely spot on. The NHS Guide to Weight Loss starts off badly by calling it weight loss, not fat loss. To lose weight, you need to lose body fat, whilst aiming to preserve and increase lean muscle tone. Therefore, to convey the appropriate initial message, the page should be all about fat loss.
The first page on the NHS ‘Weight’ Loss kicks off with the heading “Start Losing Weight”, with sections titled “Commit to Change”, “Do Today”, “Do This Week”, etc. and sounds more like management talk, rather than actual hands on fat loss advice. Reading the article, you will see it goes on to talk about your Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a highly inaccurate measure of body composition, which basically divides your weight by your height. I have a body fat percentage of around 8% and my abs are clearly visible, etc., but their calculator puts me in the “Overweight Category”, half way towards “Obese”, which is clearly wrong. The advice goes on and on and whilst the presentation is excellent, the content is very poor and just upsets me, so I’m not going to cover any more of it.
My Advice to the NHS Weight Loss Team
Innovation is a buzz word in the Public Sector and you guys at the NHS should be more innovative and consider which group of people know how to control the appearance of their body better than anyone, yes, bodybuilders. Don’t be scared away by the Pro Bodybuilders, there are drug free bodybuilders out there who are all about good health you know! Research their training and diet principles and apply it to a fat loss diet and exercise programme that will work for overweight people much easier and quicker than the advice you are promoting currently.
The site is overloaded with information, without getting across the main messages, relevant to food choices in the supermarket. There is a distinction to be made between getting fit and losing fat and between eating a healthy diet and eating a diet to increase fat loss. Along with appropriate exercise, these are the main tips that should be provided in my honest opinion.
For fat loss…
- Low fat food is great for reducing calorie intake, but if it is high in sugar, then that is very bad. If you look at the labels on the back of most low fat foods in the super markets, you will find they contain shockingly high amounts of sugars. The only way to get avoid these sugars is to cut out ready meals, tinned foods, etc. and cook your own meals from the basic ingredients. A bodybuilding style diet addresses these issues and there are thousands of websites out there offering bodybuilding meal recipes and instructions, with most meals being pretty tasty.
- Gym instructors, TV shows and magazines all promote cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging, cycling, etc. for losing weight. But, it is better to lose mainly fat and build muscle tone for a better looking physique and quicker results. It is therefore a better choice to lift weights and do cardio for the combined effects of increasing muscle tone and burning off more calories, for optimum fat loss, leading to optimum weight loss. This has been proven in numerous studies, which again can be found online.
The message I am trying to convey is that you should know what you are doing AND why you are doing it.
Cardio –> Burns calories whilst you are exercising and raises metabolism slightly
High Intensity Resistance Exercise –> Burns calories whilst you are exercising and raises metabolism significantly (and increases strength and muscle tone)
Low Calorie Diet –> Ensures a calorie deficit, so you have to use your long term energy stores, i.e. body fat, for exercise
Low Sugar Diet –> Avoids insulin spikes associated with hunger pangs and bingeing
For more information on fat loss, read our 11 Tips For Sustained Fat Loss. Supplements are not the answer for weight loss, but they can complement an exercise and diet program and are an addition, not a replacement for good exercise and nutrition.