US nutritionist Mark Macdonald founded the International Board of Nutrition and Fitness Coaching and developed the weight management system Zen Project 8. Macdonald shares his nutrition tips with WH.
What are some things you wish people knew about nutrition and weight loss?
“The first thing is that your success is beyond the scale. Too many times the number on the scale will determine someone’s mood. You can’t drop weight all the time. There’s other shifts that happen, too. For example, what’s your energy like, how are your sugar cravings, how are your clothes fitting, how are you looking in the mirror.”
“The second thing is their eating foundation. From the moment we take our first breath, we have to balance our blood sugars. Basically, whenever you skip a meal, your body holds fat and burns muscle. That next meal you crave carbohydrates not protein, then you store fat when you overeat. It’s not about restriction, it’s about balance. It’s about eating PFC every three – protein, fat, carbs – every three hours.”
“You can also workout smarter. You have red muscle and white muscle. Steady cardio burns in the red muscle, the high intensity cardio is on your white muscle – like interval training. If you’re only doing one type of exercise, you’re not maximising that time you’re spending. If you only have three or five hours a week – diversify your exercise better.”
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“Also, the number one weight loss enemy would have to be lack of sleep. You have to break the snooze button! The way your sleep cycle works is that you have light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep. Deep sleep charges your body and REM your mind. Once you hit that snooze button, every second of sleep after is useless. You never get back to that deep sleep. Get smarter with how you sleep and get better strategies to manage your stress. Sleep effects your hormones, your stress hormones, your water retention. It’s about the whole picture, not just a number on the scale and immediate restriction.”
What is the biggest mistake they make when trying to lose weight?
“I think the number one mistake with diets is that people don’t understand how to make it a way of life. People go all in and then they make a push for a moment, they take out everything that they like, they get a result, life pushes back – they start nibbling again and they regain everything again and they yo-yo.”
“Instead of focusing on all or none – start doing the one percent. I think that’s the best advice I can give someone to prevent those mistakes. Focus on one percent at a time. Whether it’s walking five minutes a day, getting another shake in during the day, sleeping three more minutes each night – it’s chipping away. That compound effect is massive.”
Is everything lost if you go out for Friday drinks?
"People think that it is either all lost or they don’t think it will matter. It does matter a little bit, you’ll hold some fluid. If you go drinking and you eat, the alcohol with dehydrate and bloat you a bit. If you have excess carbs then that’s going to make you bloat a bit. It doesn’t mean that you put on fat, it just means that you might not feel as good the next day. So you get back on. Our mission [at Zen Project 8] is simple: to teach people a way of life, but also give them a great starting mechanism. What we do know is that when people don’t detox initially, they don’t metabolise as well. We want to give their body an ‘oil change’ and then ignite that. But if they fall off, they fall off – just get back on."