Sean Van Staden
Columnist
3 minute read
1 Mar 2014
8:00 am

Nutritional game key to weight loss victory

Sean Van Staden

As a family, you decide to buy a new board game.

Sean van Staden

The box looks interesting so you thought it would be a good idea to play it with the family. You carefully open the box and begin to set up and play the game without reading the rules or instructions. You soon realise that the game has become a bigger challenge than you initially thought. Plain and simple, you suck at it.

Nutrition can be seen as that game that you want to play but for the last 20 years you have been winging it, without instructions. What would happen if you were given the rules and instructions to proper nutrition, how to follow a healthy lifestyle with ease? Do you think you would play the nutrition game better? Do you think your weight would be near-perfect and have sufficient nutrients for a game winning performance?

John Berardi, an assistant professor at the University of Texas surely thinks so. He believes that there are three distinct levels that people fall into. Level 1: people who are completely new at eating well; Level 2: people who demonstrate some understanding of good nutrition yet need guidance, planning and direction; and, Level 3: people who generally eat the right foods in the right amounts at the right times.

Each level requires different instructions in order to play the game well. First and foremost Berardi states that, “exercise alone doesn’t work, especially if you are looking at body composition e.g. like fat loss”.

You heard it right. Exercising alone without changing your diet will yield little or no results. Two research papers and approximately 3 000 personal case studies support his statement. The first research paper was done by the University of Texas, where two sedentary groups of people were studied. The first group of 50 were asked to be sedentary for 12 weeks. The second group of 50 was tasked to work with a trainer to perform three strength and two interval training sessions per week – a total of 60 hours of exercise over the 12-week period.

Both groups kept their diet as usual. The data surprisingly yielded little or no changes between the two groups, even though the one group had 60 hours more physical exercise. The “total” amount of fat loss in the exercise group was only 700 grams.

Not too far away at Oklahoma State University, similar research was conducted. This time the control group consisted of 10 and their task was to remain sedentary for 10 weeks. The second group consisting of 14 people were asked to train to perform two strength and three steady state cardio training sessions per week, a total of 50 hours over the 10 weeks

Both groups were asked to keep their diet the same. The research found that the results were the same at Texas University. The exercise group only managed to lose a “total” of 700 grams of fat with an additional 50 hours of exercise.

What these two research papers tell you as a consumer, is that if you hired a personal trainer for 10 to 12 weeks to help you shed some fat and spent the average rate of a trainer at your local gym, it would have cost you between R15 000 and R20 000 over the 10 to 12 weeks. More disconcerting is that you would not have lost more than a kilogram in fat if your trainer did not factor in a game-changing nutritional program.

If you are reading this and are wondering why after so much time, money and exercise you are not losing any fat, research from two top universities has provided an explanation. Now, before you go out and kick or fire your personal trainer, why don’t you take matters into your own hands and worry about your own nutrition.

Your instructions on the nutritional game is to change one aspect about your diet per week. I am not asking for an entire overhaul, I am asking you to change one thing like drinking 10 glasses of water a day or reducing your cola and sugar intake by half. Or how about cutting out bread in your diet.

By changing one small area every week for 12 weeks, you will have the big change you have been looking for all your life.