I have flirted with the concept of zoning before and I’m not going to lie, its not easy. Schools of thought about diets have varied dramatically over the years and as science has progressed we have been given contradictory advice on what is healthy for us to eat. Should I restrict my calories? Restrict my fat? Eat lots of red meat? Cut out red meat? Are grains good for me? Is veganism the right choice? There is so much information available that it is not surprising that we can all feel a little overwhelmed and confused. As I have talked about before, my personal choice, and the one that fits in best with my personal stomach issues, is the paleo diet. So what happens when you find that you feel great, you are happy and healthy but you are just not losing weight on the paleo diet? Old school science taught us that a calorie is a calorie and they were all created equal. Now, of course, we know that is not true. There are 112 calories in an individual Weight Watchers Carrot Cake, whilst there are 156 calories in just 1 ounce of cashew nuts. So does that mean that I should opt for the lower calorie snack? Personally, no I don’t think so, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone else to do so either.
Here is the ingredients list for the Weight Watchers Carrot Cake: Sugar,Wheat Flour ,Carrot (9%) ,Pasteurised Whole Egg ,Water ,Vegetable Oil ,Pineapple ,Humectant: Vegetable Glycerine ,Pasteurised Egg White ,Citrus Fibre ,Raising Agents: Diphosphates, Potassium Bicarbonate ,Coconut ,Glucose Syrup ,Skimmed Milk Powder ,Caramelised Sugar Syrup ,Ground Cinnamon ,Tapioca Starch ,Preservative: Potassium Sorbate ,Gelling Agent: Pectin ,Dextrose ,Fructose ,Ground Nutmeg ,Emulsifier: Sucrose Esters of Fatty Acids
Cashews may contain more calories but they also contain these nutrients: Copper, Phosphorous, Manganese, Magnesium and Zinc and they do not contain a plethora of additives, preservatives and chemicals.
Whilst in the short term if you follow a calorie restricting diet such as Weight Watchers or Slimming World you will undoubtedly lose weight, in the long term, it is not sustainable AND if you buy the products that they make you are also giving your body a smorgasbord of chemical crap, entirely devoid of any real nutritional value. If you decide to do exercise whilst you are dieting, (which I hope you will) these foods will not provide your body with enough energy to sustain even moderate levels of movement.
However, one aspect of the paleo diet that cannot be ignored is the fact that if you eat excessive amounts of calories (albeit of healthy, nutritious, wholesome foods) you will not be able to consistently lose weight. At this point in my life, having lost and gained weight to varying degrees over the last twenty years, I would still like to be leaner. That’s not because I think I’m fat. Gone are the days when I look in the mirror and hate what I see, where I talk about myself in terms of being less than others because I weigh more. What I do want, though, is to be a more efficient athlete. I am carrying excess weight and that makes certain aspects of my training more difficult. I find it hard to run, I am unable to complete an unassisted pull up, I struggle with box jumps. All of these things would be improved if I lost weight.
So what is the answer? One diet that is very popular with athletes is The Zone. The Zone separates food into blocks, the amount of blocks you are advised to eat is dependent upon your size and gender. According to the chart below I am a small female and should need 10 blocks. When I had a brief soiree with The Zone Diet I found that with my training that was simply not sufficient food and I had to up it to 11, which was sustainable. So 11 blocks of food per day, I’m not going to lie, that is not a lot of food and it does take some getting used to.
Many athletes bulk cook zone meals on a Sunday so that during the week they don’t have to worry about their preparing and cooking food. This is particularly helpful if you are trying to juggle work, training and possibly a family all at the same time. This kind of practical approach means that your food goes from being something that is regulated by your emotions, to something that is very much a tool to fuel your body. If you are training for a sport or are trying to mend a broken relationship with food, this could be a good solution for you. I am going to give it a whirl and see what effect it has on me. I will let you know how I get on!
Weight: 67.3 kilos/ 10 stone 6 pounds (- 3 pounds)
Body fat percentage: 34.9% (+ .4%)
BMI: 27.6 (- 1.5)
Dress size: 12/14 (same)
Bust Size: 34 DD (same)
Waist measurement: 82.55 centimeters/ 32 inches (-.5)
Height: 154.94 centimeters/ 5 foot 1 inch (same!)
The way I look at it is this: over the last 5 weeks, which have been incredibly emotional for me, I could have binged on all sorts of foods and gained a lot of weight. That is what I would have done in the past but this time I took control, to some degree, about the kind of foods that I was eating. Now to get serious about actually losing some weight because lets face it, who doesn’t want to look good in a bikini!
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