Nutritionist & Exercise Scientist Declan Doyle from Health@Work shares his advice on how you can fit your health and wellbeing goals into a busy lifestyle.
We are all guilty of getting caught up with work, focusing on meeting deadlines and preparing for that big presentation that’s coming up. Or maybe it’s everyday life like looking after the kids, doing the weekly shop, running errands and still trying to find the time to enjoy ourselves.
When this happens, we often forget about our health and mindlessly consume more energy than we actually need, resulting in weight gain.
Having worked with people in multiple professions over the years, there are a few commonalities that I will drill into people particularly those in demanding job roles.
Create a calorie deficiency
The first hurdle for fat loss to occur is creating a calorie deficit. Well-conducted studies have proven this time and time again. Pick an approach that induces that principle and don’t fall for some fancy sales talk, like putting coconut oil in your coffee.
This means, if you need to swap the beer for gin on the weekends because that brings your weekly average calories intake down into a deficit, then that’s what you should focus on. Too many people go in all guns blazing, eating clean and training mean without really auditing their eating habits.
To get your average calories, follow the process below:
Step 1: Multiply your weight in Kgs by 22 for your basic calorie needs, eg; 80kg x 22 = 1760 calories
Step 2: Times the figure above by your current activity status (1.1 – 1.4 – 1.7), if you are not on your feet all day use the lower figure. Eg; 1760 x 1.1 = 1936 calories
Step 3: Set yourself in a calorie deficit by subtracting 500 from the above figure, eg; 1936 – 500 = 1436 calories.
Step 4: Eat/drink this amount over a week and review your weight on Sunday morning after you’ve used the toilet. Tracking your calories using an app like myfitnesspal makes it easier to see what is really going in. The research is clear that people consistently misreport what they are eating.
Step 5: Adapt as you go. For example, if someone does this for a week and weight stays the same then that is really good feedback as it means you know the amount you can eat and stay the same weight. You can then either slightly tweak calorie intake again or look for ways to add some steps to your day.
Make protein your friend.
When you put yourself in a calorie deficit, you’re going to notice certain changes physiologically and psychologically. Hunger goes up, energy levels dwindle and cravings go up.
One of the best ways to limit the effect of these responses is to aim for a sufficient protein intake. 1g per pound of bodyweight is a good guideline or 1-2 palm-size servings per meal.
Movement before exercise.
When you have work and family commitments, relying on your motivation to drive to the gym and back again after a long day at the office isn’t the best idea. Embedding movement into your day is much easier and increases your chances of staying adherent.
Guess what the number one variable is that underpins the success of a diet is? ADHERENCE.
Look for any opportunity to move in your day like:
- Parking your car a few streets away from work
- Walk to meetings within a certain distance
- Cycle to work
- Take the stairs at every opportunity
- Set up a workplace walking group
- Get a standing desk
…and so on.
Use flexible dieting when needed.
I’ve seen many professionals go from buffet to buffet on consecutive days. When your environment is telling you “EAT ME”, it’s hard to say no. These external cues often lead to overeating even when we are full.
There’s nothing wrong with overindulging, but compensation will have to be applied elsewhere to balance out these moments. You can do this by putting calories in the bank by simply skipping a few meals ( no this doesn’t slow down your metabolism) before, after or on the day.
Fat loss is not a linear process, don’t expect the pounds to drop off week in, week out. They’ll be fluctuations for many reasons. Monitoring more than just weight (sleep pattern, eating habits, waist circumferences) will give you a better picture of the progress your making.
The successful dieters are not the quick fixers who go from diet to diet all year round and lose the same ten pounds ten times over. When you fall off the wagon (and you will), jump back on drilling in the basics day in day out.
Sleep, water, most wholesome foods, movement and rest are the key factors to successful weight loss.
Of course, you already know this but the issue for most is that they don’t allow themselves enough time to embed these into their life.
- Keep it simple by creating a calorie deficiency
- Aim for a protein source at every meal to combat the hunger cycle
- Look to make movement part of your day before jumping on the exercise bandwagon
- Put calories in the bank for the moments when you know the temptation to eat more will be high
- Be patient with your weight loss and don’t give up