I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Are you ready? You may want to sit down for this one. Here it goes: losing weight is difficult. And what's more is it gets even harder as the years add up. Shocking, isn't it? I know, I know. If the room is spinning, take several big breaths and count to 10. I'll wait.
I'm sure the weight loss struggle is not a shock to anybody reading these words. I know this because it's my job to teach people how to win that battle. Every day, I see frustrated faces who have reached their wit's end. They've tried every fad diet; they've worked out; they've even tried that "kale thing." Sure, they may have lost a pound or five, but the weight always seems to hang around like a drunk relative refusing to take the hint when it's time to exit the party.
I am tasked with finding what the problems are and offering solutions that seem reasonable. It's important for me to be prepared, and it's important for me to know what I'm talking about. For those who know me, they realize I'm a bit obsessive about my job. I enjoy learning and consuming as much material as I can cram into my mental real estate. I know I'm blessed to make a living from my passion, so I want to be the best at what I do and never lose that privilege.
It's with this in mind that I want to tell you another secret. It's one that a few years ago I'd have scoffed at, but I've seen the science and the results firsthand. It's a secret that might not floor you like the previous one, but it may make you utter a "hmm" under your breath. Here it goes: as we age, our body's ability to utilize and process carbohydrates decreases more and more. This is due to a number of reasons, like producing less of certain key enzymes to reduced levels of physical and mental activity.
Our bodies will, however, still use carbs for a few important factors, like proper T3 production - which is a critical factor in a healthy metabolism - as well as allowing tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier for serotonin production - a critical factor in happiness and control cravings - among other things. Carbs also come in the form of beneficial soluble and insoluble fibers. Both aid in digestion and play important dietary roles. But the bottom line here is while you don't want to complete eliminate them as we age, we simply need fewer carbs. Let's move on.
The other two macronutrients, protein and fat, are still required by the body. We have to have both for proper hormone production, cell structure and health, enzyme production and cofactors and much more. While our overall calorie requirements are currently believed to drop as we age, we still need adequate protein and fats. For those curious to learn more, I've recently written an article in The Wilson Post called "Strong and ... fat?" that covers the importance of dietary proteins and fats.
I wanted to cement these facts into this discussion so we have a baseline set as we move forward. Because I'm going to tell you some things that fly in the face of what most fitness experts will tell you. I'm going to share a few tips that will help you not only lose the weight, but also keep it off. In addition, you'll notice an increase in your mental clarity, sustained energy and sense of well-being. You'll also notice a decrease in the energy rollercoaster, in hunger pangs and in carb-oholism.
I've mentioned before that I have clients document their food intake so I can see what, when and why they're eating. After a week of tracking, we look at the results and go about making changes to improve their health. This is where it gets tricky because it's my job to meet them where they are. For example, if a client is eating fast food for every meal and drinking their bodyweight in Coca-Colas, we'll try to lower those amounts and introduce a few healthier options.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if a client is eating all healthy foods, but they're simply getting four or five servings of fruit, leading to too much daily sugar, we'll work on reducing those amounts and possibly substituting more veggies or healthy fats. I say all of this for you to keep in mind where YOU are currently at when reading the following.
Making gradual, sustainable changes is the key to succeeding in the game of getting healthy and happy. Too drastic of a shift in any direction can often cause you to whiplash back to worse than before.
Now, I'm a big believer in giving people a solution. Too often I read articles or watch videos that describe a problem, and I'm thinking, "YES! Exactly!" But then I'm left hanging with no answers in sight. I want to provide usable information in everything I create so you're not left wondering what to do next. Let's talk about exactly that.
Since our body's ability to process and utilize carbs decreases as we age, it is important to fit what we eat around that thought. And since we need to still get our protein and fat, it is also important to eat foods containing the nutrients as well. What does this look like then, in laymen's terms?
Fewer carbs would mean fewer liquid sugars in the form of Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, Sunkist, Sprite, 7-Up, sweet tea and even fruit juices. Orange juice may sound healthier than a Coca-Cola, but at the end of the day, they're both still liquid sugar. They digest quickly, shoot your blood sugar and insulin through the roof and will cause an intense crash because of it.
If you've knocked that first step out, then fewer carbs would move to reducing candy, sugary snacks and even excessive amounts of fruits. If you've got a handle on the sweet tooth, lowering carbs also includes lowering starches like potatoes, pastas, corn and rice.
By this point, I expect a mob of pitchforks and torches coming up my driveway. I'm not telling anybody to never eat any of the above ever again. I'm saying it's important to have moderation in all of them.
The more discipline you can have with the carbs, the more freedom you can have with the protein and fats. Also, the more discipline you can have with the carbs, the more your insulin levels will love you, the better overall health your cardiovascular system will be in and the more weight you'll lose.
If you want to learn more about the do's and don'ts of going low-carb, be sure to check out www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com and click on the blog post entitled "Keto concerns." There are also new blog posts every week and a ton of resources to use on the site, plus membership is and always will be 100 percent FREE. I'd love to have you join the community!
As always, thank you for reading. Do your best to begin lowering any excessive carbs. Focus on veggies, proteins and fats. These will help you live your healthiest and happiest life possible. We could all certainly use a little more of that!
Andy Frisch, NASM CPT, CES, PES, WFS, IFT, NESTA FNC, is a successful personal trainer and nutrition coach who enjoys working with clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. He currently train clients at Sports Village Fitness in Lebanon, works with clients online at www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com and has a budding YouTube channel.