Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Fat burning isn’t Fat loss

Tuesday Tip: Fat burning isn’t Fat loss 🔥

Many of you will be familiar with fitness trackers that tell you how much of your work out was in ‘fat burning’ mode etc. You’ll also see workouts and supplements marketed as ‘fat burning’. What’s important to remember is fat burning and fat loss are not the same thing.

Fat is a great energy store for the body – a a lean adult man can store around 130,000 cals in fat (enough to survive for 65 days) but of course too much fat is bad for your health. In order to lose fat those fat stores need to be mobilised and used as energy (or burnt). The fat is broken down and released as fatty acids into the blood stream, where it’s transported to the tissues requiring energy and it is oxidised to create ATP to fuel the tissue.

In simple terms fat cells have two receptors – alpha and beta which influence fat loss. Alpha receptors tell the cell to store fat, beta ones tell it to break it down and release it. Essentially the goal is to stimulate the beta receptors to break fat down and inhibit the alpha receptors so they’re less likely to store fat. Exercise (at certain levels) can stimulate the beta receptors through the release of adrenaline and related hormones. Hence the ‘fat burning’ zone during workouts. The alpha receptors are inhibited by diet, exercise and possibly some supplements.

So that’s great – you can do your workout, burn fat… but that won’t necessarily mean you also lose body fat. Because you STILL need to be in a negative energy balance (calorie deficit) to then actually lose body fat because otherwise the food you’re eating will just be stored as fat, replacing what’s been burnt. Using fat as a fuel and losing body fat aren’t the same thing. If you burn fat through exercise or some expensive supplement but are still eating more than your burn you won’t lose body fat. If you eat less than you burn you will definitely lose fat – irrespective of being in a ‘fat burning’ zone/workout or not because you’ll need the fuel.

So don’t focus on that ‘fat burning’ zone or workout – instead exercise for enjoyment and health, and focus on the food side of things for fat loss.

Happy Tuesday 🤗


Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Calorie calculators …

Tuesday Tip: Calorie calculators … 🧮

I often hear people tell me that they’ve been in a calorie deficit but haven’t lost weight… and then go on to blame something else (bread/ carbs / metabolism / hormones ) etc to explain why their body is ‘hanging on to fat’ despite a deficit. Now assuming they have actually been eating the amount of calories they think they have (and that’s a whole different topic!) and tracking accurately then what’s going on?

Well the simple answer is – they’re not at a calorie deficit. A true calorie deficit will aways lead to fat loss (over time). Usually people have created their calorie goal using an online calculator. The thing is whilst these calculators are useful tools they’re just an estimate and a starting point. You won’t automatically be in a calorie deficit just by typing your details into a calorie calculator.

Being in a calorie deficit doesn’t mean eating an arbitrary number of calories that an online calculator gave you. It means being in negative energy balance. In order to know if you’re actually at that level then you need to test the number of calories you get from these calculators for a good 3-4 weeks – consistently (so that means no big weekend splurges etc – average calories per day need to be at the amount or under the amount you’ve been set). If after 3-4 weeks you’re not losing fat and you really have stuck to it accurately then you know that for you that number is too high. So you tweak it down and test again. If you start to see progress then you know you’re now at a deficit!

That’s why with my clients I will always wait for at least 4 weeks of consistent tracking before we even contemplate changing the calorie goal.

Sadly there’s no magic formula and no quick solution – but also there’s no need to over complicate it. If you’re progressing you’re at the right calorie level, if you’re not… you need to reduce it! Simple!

Happy Tuesday 🤗

Tuesday Tip

Tuesday tip: Why am I burning fewer calories?

Tuesday tip: Why am I burning fewer calories? 🏃🏼‍♀️

If you wear an activity monitor / heart rate monitor / smart watch you may have noticed that over time you burn fewer calories when exercising.

These monitors measure calories burned based on your heart rate during exercise.

There are wrist and chest strap versions. The chest strap ones measure electrical impulses from heart (like an EKG). The wrist based ones use an optical sensor to measure heart rate based on blood flow. When your heart rate increases blood flow increases so the sensor uses this change to estimate heart rate. Due to this any exercise that impacts blood flow to the wrist will reduce the accuracy of the heart rate measure e.g raising arms above the head, burpees, planks etc. So there are already inaccuracies in the measure anyway.

Regardless of which method you use over time you will find you burn fewer calories than you used to. The body is designed to adapt and hardwired to be as conservative as possible with energy output (it’s an evolutionary adaptation to survive). If you stimulate it with physical stress (exercise) it’s gets better at handling that stress. The heart itself is a muscle and it strengthens. As it strengthens it can cope with more physical stress at a lower heart rate.

So whilst you may view it as a bad thing that you’re burning fewer calories in your spin class / Hiit workout etc it’s actually a fantastic measure of progress and fitness. It takes you less effort over time to perform a task that used to require much more physical effort. This should be celebrated!

It’s also a great reminder not to get too obsessed with those calorie burns. Aside from the fact that they’re not very accurate anyway, they will decrease over time and that’s a good thing! Yes you’ll burn fewer calories, but as I’ve often said you shouldn’t be eating back those calories anyway, they’re just a great measure of activity levels and progress! So if you’re exercising regularly and noticing this pattern don’t be sad – be proud! You’re getting stronger!

Happy Tuesday 🤗


Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Beat the Autumn Blues

Tuesday Tip: Beat the Autumn Blues 🍂

So Autumn is well and truly here; cooler, darker evenings and mornings. For me, and many of my clients and class members this is a tough transition. It’s hard to find motivation to continue regular exercise, and we crave warming, comfort foods.

Low energy, low mood and low motivation makes us want to hibernate rather than work out. So how can you keep that summer mojo going? Focus on shorter workouts if you’re struggling to find motivation for long sessions. Aim for 30-45 mins of high intensity exercise 3 x week: a class, a home hiit workout, or a cycle or run. On other days do something less intense that you enjoy: walk, jog, swim, or do pilates/yoga.

Find a gym buddy; it’s harder to skip that workout when you’re doing it with someone else. Join a colleague for a lunchtime run, or meet up with a friend at the gym or at a class. The social side of fitness plays a massive role in keeping you on track.

Try to sneak exercise in whenever you can: park further away, take the stairs, walk over to speak to colleagues in the office rather than phoning or try a walking meeting with colleagues. If you’re watching the kids play sport then walk the sideline instead of standing still.

Exercise isn’t just for losing weight, it’s great for stress relief and at this time of year when things can be a bit manic it’s a great release. The endorphins will lift your mood and help energise you. Make the most of those bright autumnal days and go for a walk outside.

Focus on warming, filling foods like soups and casseroles. I also like to stew up a load of fruit (apples, pears, plums, berries – whatever!) and use it as a snack or pud. Warm it up, sprinkle some oats or a little cereal on it and a dollop of Greek yoghurt – a great comforting dish!

Oh and just because it’s not baking hot you still need to be drinking plenty of water. It’s even more important to ensure you’re properly hydrated at this time of year as it’s when most of us forget – so get sipping while you workout!

Don’t let the changing seasons get you down – embrace it – enjoy it and have some fun this Autumn 🍁

Happy Tuesday 🤗


Tuesday Tip

Tuesday Tip: Menopause and fat loss

Tuesday Tip: Menopause and fat loss ❤️

Menopause and peri menopause are unavoidable for all women and bring lots of new challenges when it comes to weight loss and maintenance. There’s a lot of fear and misinformation surround menopause and fat loss, and many women believe it’s impossible to achieve their goals post menopause. It couldn’t be further form the truth – and loads of my clients are proof of this.

So yes menopause/peri menopause causes a number of challenging symptoms and changes in the body. Aside from a whole range of general symptoms, when it comes to fat loss specific issues include:

⁃ lack of sleep (as a result of hormone changes and hot flushes etc )

⁃ Irritability/mood changes

⁃ Change in areas of fat deposition (increased belly fat)

⁃ A reduced bmr/ calorie requirement

⁃ Reduced muscle mass

Now whilst all of these are very real issues that do impact fat loss, none make it impossible and none change the basic premise and approach to losing fat – which is creating a calorie deficit. Lack of sleep will affect appetite, as will emotional changes, these both mean you may find it harder to control your calories and be more likely to overeat /drink. A reduced bmr and age related reduction in muscle mass also impact the number of calories you need. Changes in fat deposition mean more likelihood of fat gain around the mid section.

However none of these change the basic laws of thermodynamics – if you create a calorie deficit you will still lose fat (you just have to make sure you’re targeting the right calorie goal!).

But there are some things that will help enable you to create and stick to this deficit

⁃ prioritising sleep – try meditation apps, fans, cooling sprays etc

⁃ Resistance / weight train – this will help preserve /build muscle mass, protect bone density, increase calorie expenditure

⁃ Enjoy any food you want of course but ensure you’re including high fibre and high protein foods to help keep you full and satiated.

⁃ Be aware of hunger and try to learn whether it’s true hunger or emotional hunger. Real hunger tends to build slowly, and is ‘cured’ with any food. Emotional hunger tends to come on suddenly, drives you to your ‘comfort’ foods and isn’t satisfied.

⁃ Most importantly talk to your gp or a menopause specialist and don’t be afraid to use HRT to help manage symptoms.

Happy Tuesday 🤗