Caffeine for fat loss; the great debate ?

The great caffeine debate. Well i’m not sure there is even a debate but there is certainly loads of contradictory information flying around with respect to caffeine consumption and weight loss. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant found in coffee (around 40-160mg per cup), tea (10-60mg per cup), cola (43-65mg per cup) and chocolate (up to 50mg per average bar) which acts to alter mood, alertness, concentration and general cognitive function. Coffee is probably the most widely used psychoactive substance in the world with many people habitually consuming several cups a day in the belief that it will give them a mental or physical boost!

Caffeine also has a possible role to play in weight management and especially fat loss. Studies have indicated that caffeine encourages increased fat metabolism by releasing more fatty acids into the bloodstream resulting in a sparing of glycogen which means you will be able to exercise for longer. In fact consumption of caffeine prior to exercise may also have a masking effect, tricking the central nervous system into ignoring initial signals of fatigue, which means that you can exercise for longer. Brilliant !

So how much exactly ?

Well estimations are that consuming around 5-6 cups of coffee per day will result in you burning 100kcal extra a day, equivalent to 10 and a half pounds (5kg) per year.

Is that safe ?

There is a conception that caffeine acts as a diuretic causing dehydration, this however does not seem to be entirely true with everyone. Caffeine like any other drink (including water) if consumed in large quantities will act as a diuretic.

However consuming moderate amounts (4-5 cups of instant coffee per day, up to 300mg) seems safe.

Some people however may be hyper sensitive to the effects of caffeine and some will not, it is important to remember everyone reacts differently. It may be that caffeine has no effect at all on you or conversely it may have a huge effect.

There are some caveats though when considering upping the consumption of caffeine. Pregnant women may be at more risk to giving birth to an underweight baby or miscarriage with excessive consumption and caffeine may result in caffeine-induced hypertension in those hyper-sensitive types. If in doubt always consult your GP.

Understanding Food Labels; Part 2, Protein

As one of the macronutrients protein is regarded as the building block essential for growth and repair. All protein is made up of Amino Acids of which there are 21. Unfortunately your body can only produce 12 of these, the rest known as Essential Amino Acids must come from the diet.  Some food sources known as complete proteins contain all 9 of these Essential Amino Acids whereas others may only contain a few. These are referred to as incomplete Amino Acids.  By adding incomplete protein foods together such as beans on toast or cheese and pasta the result is a meal containing all the essential amino acids!

Complete Proteins; milk and dairy, poultry, fish, meat, tofu and soy milk

Incomplete Proteins; rice, grains, nuts, beans, pasta, lentils, fruit and vegetables

So how much do you need? Well if you are pretty active around 1.4 – 1.8g / kg body weight should be ample. That means if you weigh 100kg (220lbs) then you will need 140 – 180g (5-7 ounces) per day, considering a 100g of tuna (3 ounces) will give you 27g (1 ounce) of protein and a tin of beans will give you around 17g it soon adds up. If you are training then protein is essential, without it in your diet you may as well kiss the possibility of you getting any stronger goodbye !!

Digressing a little experts recommend eating a meal rich in protein and carbohydrate soon after a workout, suggesting that there is a  ‘Window of opportunity’ whereby protein synthesis is greater in the period immediately after exercise. A protein shake, chicken or tuna sandwich, pasta with vegetables and lean meat or beans on toast will all help your post exercise recovery.

Understanding Food Labels: Part 1, Energy

Understanding food labels can at the best of times be confusing, with ambiguous terms and information often baffling the potential consumer. For the next few weeks we are going to cut to the core of food labels and break down some of the terminology commonly used by manufacturers giving you the necessary information to make correct choices for your health in the aisles.

When making comparisons between foods it is usually a good idea to start with the values per 100g or 100ml, this way you can easily compare and contrast the nutritional content of different products.

To start off with we’re going to get to grips with energy. This is one of the key ingredients to a food label and as such should be easily accessible.The figure displayed is the amount of energy in your food, expressed either as calories (kcal) or joules (kJ).  One kJ is equal to 4.18 Kcal. A calorie (kcal) is actually a scientific measurement of heat and is the amount of energy required to heat 1g of water by 1 degree celcius!

Energy is required for all bodily functions and is essential to maintain a healthy body. Consume more than you expend and your body will store excess energy as fat, consume less than you expend and your body will lose weight, either body fat or lean tissue mass (muscle). Beware though as a rapid weight loss (in excess of 2lb / week) may result in a depletion of lean muscle mass and a sparing of fat tissue. A safe and sustainable weight loss is between 1 and 2 lbs per week. When you consider that every pound is a whopping 3500kcal then you will appreciate that even losing 1lb in a week is a great achievement and something you should be proud of!!

So how much energy should you be eating? Well for every gram of carbohydrate and protein you eat you will get 4kcal. As for alcohol it’s a little higher at 7kcal for every gram (or ml), sorry!! And as for fat, well that’s even higher at 9kcal for every gram. As a general rule of thumb men should eat about 2500kcal and women around 2000kcal per day. As you can see a high fat diet will be kcal dense and as such you will be much more susceptible to consume more kcal than you require. Obviously the figures above can vary depending on your daily energy expenditure, so to find out more accurately your energy requirements calculate your BMR here.

Next week we will discuss carbohydrates. In the meantime “Happy shopping”.

 

Enjoy your Food

melon.jpgAh yes Enjoy your food, every last mouthful. Ask yourself when was the last time you did this ? I mean really enjoyed and savoured your food, or is food just an activity that has to be done? Most of us are guilty of wolfing our food down whilst watching television or whilst on the run. Little wonder we miss the signs our body gives us to say we’re full. Next time you eat, eat consciously. What I mean is take your time and enjoy the tastes and flavours. It may be an idea to put your knife and folk down in between mouthfuls to prolong the experience. You will be amazed at, firstly how long you take and secondly the urge to LEAVE FOOD ON YOUR PLATE when your body says I ‘ve had enough now!!

Listen to your Body!

Listen to my body? Sure give it a go, you’ll be amazed at how good your body is at sending you signals to say when you’re hungry or full. Unfortunately we tend to override these signals, thinking we know better. This results in a desensitisation to our own appetite mechanisms which  mean we never know when to stop eating!!

Only eat when you are hungry

OK I make no appologies for the simplicity of this one. Forget your FAD diets, with no eating after dark unless its cardboard, or whatever. This is simple but effective. The idea here is you only eat erm…. when your body tells you, i.e. when you are hungry. Here’s the second crazy part, stop eating when you are full! This way you will eat regularly throughout the day the amount that you actually require at the time. Eat small portions, say 300-500kcal several times in the day. Try Low GI foods (fruit, vegetables, graines, pulses, rices and pastas) rather than high GI sugary foods (sweets, cakes, sugary drinks). This will have two benefits. Firstly it will keep you fuller for longer and help ensure blood sugar levels remain constant throughout the day which in turn will help keep the hormone insulin at lower levels. The presence of high blood sugar levels is coupled with Insulin which ultimately inhibits fat metabolism, not great it you want to shed a few pounds.Secondly small portions have a manageable calorific content whereas binge eating at the end of the day may result in excess calorie intake and storage. Funily enough research shows time and time again the benefits of eating breakfast. Those who have a healthy breakfast are much less likely to gain weight than those who skip breakfast all together.  

Calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate

In the last newsletter we touched on ‘Moving More’ and energy balance. Well to lose weight you need to be thinking in terms of creating a negative balance, i.e expending more than you consume. Well that’s easy I hear you say, let’s just not eat anything!! Well unfortunately it is simple though not that simple. First you need to calculate your BMR. Your Basal Metabolic rate (BMR) is the rate at which your body burns calories for basic bodily functions such as breathing, circulation and maintaining constant temperature.  

Women: BMR = 655+(9.6 x weight in kilos)+(1.8 x height in cm)-(4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66+(13.7 x weight in kilos)+(5 x height in cm) -(6.8 x age in years)

This equation will be very accurate in all but the very muscular (will underestimate calorie needs) and the very fat (will over-estimate calorie needs).
If you are inactive or sedentary multiply BMR by 1.2
Fairly active (exercise 1 – 2 x week) multiply BMR by 1.3
Moderately Active (2 – 3 x week) multiply BMR by 1.4
Active (hard more than 3 x week) multiply BMR by 1.5
Very Active (hard daily) multiply BMR by 1.7
The figure you have now is your estimated daily energy requirement. If you want to lose weight it is essential you know what your current eating habits are and what your daily energy intake. If weight loss is your goal then look at creating a deficit of around 500kcal a day. Remember every 1lb of fat is equivalent to 3500kcal, so over a week that’s 500kcal a day. You can now start to break this down further by doing say half an hour jog (based on 8km/hr for a 60kg person) which will burn 250kcal and not eating that chocolate bar (250kcal). A safe, sustainable weight loss is up to 2 lbs or 1kg per week.

Will Lifting Weights only make me bigger?

girl-boxing.jpgAh, a popular misconseption amongst many gym goer wishing to lose weight. Unless you are engaging in a specific strength routine several times a week which is tailored for low repetitions and big weights then you won’t be buffing up like Arnie.

At Fitstar Coaching we subscribe to the importance of both cardivascular and resistance training as part of any fitness and health routine. In fact encouraging some muscle growth will actually help you lose weight paradoxically. For every half a kg of muscle mass your body will burn upto 50kcal extra per day. So if you do the Maths then you will discover that an extra 5 kg of muscle mass will burn a whopping 500kcal a day, equivalent to a Big Mac if you are that way inclined…which I hope you are not!!