#27 Sustainable Fat Loss & What Can Stop It
The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast
"When you're having protein at regular intervals throughout the day it helps you stay 'full'. This is ideal for managing food cravings or the blood sugar dysregulation that often comes with the extreme calorie deficits I see some clients trying to force themselves to maintain. That's an unsustainable approach."
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In Episode 27 of The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast, Natalie Douglas and Kate Callaghan discuss how do you lose fat sustainably and how to maintain fat loss.
- Energy deficits and how far below your “maintenance” calories you should eat
- Tracking your intake; when and why
- Protein recommendations for fat loss
- Carbohydrate recommendations for fat loss
- Troubleshooting and what we commonly see prevent fat loss
- Loving yourself through the process
- The importance of sleep
- Lots more tips and tricks
Natalie K. Douglas 0:01
Hello and welcome to The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast. My name is Natalie Bourke, Holistic Dietitian and Nutritionist from HealthByWholeFoods.com.au and with me as always, I have Kate Callaghan, the Holistic Nutritionist from TheHolisticNutritionist.com. Kate, how are you?
Kate Callaghan 0:18
I am pretty good. Thanks, Nat. I’m going to give a caveat but I have a cranky type baby with me at the moment. So you may hear him in the background. And I’m on day three of no coffee or no caffeine. I’m feeling actually pretty good but there’s a little bit of brain fog.
Natalie K. Douglas 0:34
Yeah, yeah, I get massive caffeine withdrawals, even if I have it for like two, like one coffee a day for a couple of days in a row and then I don’t, I’m like, Oh my God, my brain, which is why I’m trying not to drink it but I can drink it.
Kate Callaghan 0:46
It was like having one coffee a day.
Natalie K. Douglas
And even that is just enough to hold the girls.
Natalie K. Douglas 0:57
Yeah, interestingly, I can have it when I’m on holiday days with no problem, probably because I’m not stressed at all and like life is just grand. So every time I go on holiday is I’m like, a coffee junkie. And by that I just mean I have one a day but that’s like heaven for me because I think it’s delicious.
Kate Callaghan 1:15
It was delicious and everyone recommends decaf.
Natalie K. Douglas 1:21
I can do it but like it’s better than when people like just have a dandelion tea instead, which I totally say but with the caveat.
Kate Callaghan 1:30
But yeah, dandelion tea is not a good substitute coffee.
Natalie K. Douglas 1:35
Yeah, no, like it’s tea and like, you can say drink tea, but don’t imply that it’s going to be the same as a deep, rich, beautiful coffee because it’s it’s just not. Anyway.
Kate Callaghan 1:44
So it’s very good for you.
Natalie K. Douglas 1:47
It is, it is very good for you, which is delightful. Anyway, so what we’re actually going to be talking about today, Kate, is something that has been coming up a lot, at least on my end from few of my clients and Instagram followers and whatnot, is talking about weight loss and actually approaching it sensibly and sustainably and how do you do that. And I think one thing that I get a sense of a lot is that because you and I are very much promoters of body image like a positive body image, and not putting so much focus on what size you are and how much you weigh in and whatnot. I think there’s a little bit of a misconception out there that we think that all weight loss is bad, which I know personally, I certainly don’t think that weight loss is bad when it’s appropriate. And when it’s, I guess, taken on in a sensible and sustainable manner and for the right reasons. So I think that what we will do today Kate is just talk a bit about how do we actually approach weight loss in someone who does have some weight to lose, and what are our kind of tips and strategies around making it sensible and sustainable because I think that that’s probably something that a lot of people struggle with, and especially coming into summer, at least in Australia, it is definitely something that’s out there a lot, so you know, every second social media post is telling you to get in shape for summer and get your summer body back and earn it blah, blah, blah. And while they’re all well-intentioned, I think that a lot of the time they’re targeted. All the wrong people are listening and that can be a problem. However, if you’re someone that hey, maybe you do have a little bit of weight to lose, then there are definitely ways that you can do that without drinking juice for six days and pooing like seven times a day.
Kate Callaghan 3:48
Or just going on a 1200 calorie a day diet.
Natalie K. Douglas 3:53
Yes, correct. Yes, yes. So I think what we will, I thought what we would start with would be a bit of a discussion around what we see as a sensible approach in terms of calorie deficits and whatnot. So you just alluded to the fact that a lot of people when they think weight loss, or at least a lot of women when they think weight loss, tend to skip straight to a 1200 calorie diet. And I think that that can be a big problem. Because while you do want to create an energy deficit, I generally wouldn’t put someone on a greater than maybe 20% deficit, I think that that is a sensible amount to put someone into, at without kind of putting their body into this huge shock. So what I mean by 20% deficit, so say, if you work out that you need X amount of calories, what you would do, would you would aim to consume about 80% of that. And now I know we’re talking calories, and generally we’re not encouraging calorie counting. But for some people, at least, personally, if, if they’re unsure what food looks like in terms of how much energy does it contain, or what macronutrients are in it, sometimes I will get people to monitor their intake for a week or so just to have an idea about what the amount of food they should be eating looks like, and then stop with the measuring and whatnot. So it can be a helpful strategy. Kate, do you have any kind of recommendations or do you give any guidelines around energy intake or energy deficits when you’re talking to weight loss clients?
Kate Callaghan 5:41
I tend to focus, to start with, I would focus on quality rather than quantity.
Natalie K. Douglas
A lot of the people that come to me are appalling that color of stricter diet, and just eating junky foods. So I’m all up to getting a nutrient-dense diet and swapping out different foods and focus more on getting healthy to lose weight rather than losing weight to get healthy and reducing that inflammation in the body of those real Whole Foods. But yeah, then I, I would look at moreover 20% calorie deficit as you suggested which on a 2000 calorie diet that might be 1600 calories a day. So I still wouldn’t go to 1200 calories by any means and, you know, sometimes I might look into a little bit of fasting for some people if there’s not a lot of stress around. And as you said, Nat, I think it is a good idea to. If you’re not seeing results with changes in same quality of food, and then maybe decreasing the amount of quantity by reducing portion sizes, or whatever you are looking at, or adding in some fasting and reducing that feeding window then I would look at tracking calories and also nutrients. So I like to use an app called Cronometer and so that gives you a breakdown of your calories, your protein, carbs, fats, but also, you know, most of your vitamins and minerals. So you can see if you’re deficient in any of those.
Natalie K. Douglas 7:10
Yeah, yeah, that’s awesome. And I, like I’d completely agree with that. And I think what I tend to find Kate is that people who have a lot of weight to lose, generally don’t need to, I guess pay as much attention to quantities. In the beginning, as someone who or who doesn’t have as much to lose, I find if you just change the quality of the foods that someone’s eating, and get them eating, you know, real food, in just general sensible amounts, according to their hunger, weight loss can happen quite rapidly. But there are other subset of people who have maybe been under-eating or over-exercising or have tried lots of diets, and then maybe or maybe have some other things going on and they’re just struggling to, to kind of find the amount of food that’s appropriate for them. And I think in in that situation, there’s definitely some benefit to having a little bit of tracking there. And of course, we wouldn’t encourage it for anyone who has an active eating disorder, or any of those kind of tendencies because it’s not to be used as something that you become neurotic about and that is a source of anxiety. It’s more there as a tool, or a strategy in order to help guide decisions around what’s working, what’s not working, and and where can we make improvements until you get to a place where you are seeing results and that can be really helpful. The other thing that I often get people to do is, I usually get people to go on maybe a slightly higher protein diet to help with satiety. So that can be particularly helpful when you are in a bit of a calorie deficit because we know that protein is the most satiating macronutrients. So when you’re having protein at regular intervals throughout the day, it actually helps you to stay full, which can help you with just managing any like cravings or blood sugar dysregulation, things like that, and help you stick to, you know, your kind of guidelines that you’ve set for yourself, or that you’ve been given a bit better. For a lot of people, I find that come to see me in terms of weight loss, they are usually exercising quite a bit as well. So for those people, so if you’re exercising, you know, three-plus days a week, I usually for most people would get them to have a bit like set their protein amount at about 2.2 grams per kilogram per day or like that, so you can convert it to pounds, I can’t do that in my head, but I think it’s 1.1 grams per pound of body weight, or one gram per pound of body weight, anyway, someone else can do that conversion. So that helps like it’s a therapeutic intervention in terms of a higher protein diet to help with with weight loss. And there’s definitely been research that’s been done on much higher amounts than that. So you know, going up to about, you know, 2.4 to 2.6 grams per kilogram per day. But I generally find that around that 2.2 to 2.4 grams a day when there’s exercise involved as well and weight loss is a goal that can be helpful in that regard. And then of course, making sure that you’re having adequate fiber, which can help with just feeling full and getting lots of micronutrients seen as well and helping with keeping things moving because we definitely don’t want stuff to become backed up, pun intended. And also, the other thing I would like to mention just on the topic of macronutrients would be often what I see people going to first off to that is a really low carbohydrate diet. And Kate and I have spoken about carbohydrates and low carb diets in the past. And while they definitely can be a tool around weight loss, particularly if you’re someone that needs to lose a lot of weight, and you’ve got like that insulin resistance metabolic syndrome type picture, I don’t generally think they’re a good idea if you’re someone who is training, you know, doing high-intensity training is under a lot of stress. If you’re, have any kind of issues with fertility or anything like that, which you probably shouldn’t be trying to lose weight if you have hypothalamic amenorrhea was what I was kind of pointing out there. But so what I generally get my female clients to do is if you don’t fit that metabolic syndrome, kind of insulin-resistant picture, but you’re still looking for a bit of weight loss. Generally, I would say, the ballpark figure depending on you know, your, your, your weight, and, and also your activity. I generally find between about 75 grams to 200 grams, which is I know is a big kind of range but that’s generally what I find to be helpful, grams of carbohydrate per day to be effective. And, Kate, do you have any strategies around using carbohydrates with weight loss? Like is there any kind of timing that you use or any types that you particularly focus on or avoid?
Kate Callaghan 12:36
I generally like to time them as we spoke about last week, a week before, two weeks, whenever that was, our last podcast.
Natalie K. Douglas
That time. Yep.
That time when we spoked about the non-insulin mediated glucose transport of carbohydrates, where when you have carbohydrates, after you do some intense exercise with that, behind intensity interval training or weights that makes yourself more sensitive to glucose, and you don’t actually need the hormone insulin to get that glucose into your cells. So for weight loss, I do encourage most of the carbohydrates after a workout, and or night time, which is controversial with everything you read.
Natalie K. Douglas
Oh, stop it.
Dump it, everything you read. Don’t have carbs after 2 PM because you’re not going to burn them up while you’re sleeping. I almost swore then.
Natalie K. Douglas
But the reason why I say carbs at night, I’m sure we’ve spoken about this before, but I’ll say it again, is to help with the production of melatonin so it makes the the amino acid tryptophan more available to the brain which converts to melatonin, which is your sleep hormone, which encourages a restful night’s sleep. And, you know, if you’re not sleeping well, that can forward all weight-loss efforts, no matter how on point your diet and exercise is if you’re not sleeping well, then you can kiss your weight loss goals, goodbye.
Natalie K. Douglas 14:07
You heard it here first, guys. It’s true and I would totally agree with that. I’ve seen time and time again, people who come to me and they’ve got, they’ve got weight loss goals, and they’ve actually been following what I would, you know, call an appropriate diet and exercise routine for their specific goals and for them as an individual. But when I asked them about sleep, they’ve got terrible sleep, they’re not prioritizing it. They’re looking at their phones before they go to bed. They’re waking up lots throughout the night and then just feeling really exhausted and frustrated by the fact that they’re not getting results. And I know how frustrating that can be. And I think that it is really important to view weight loss not just as a energy and energy that kind of situation, but really of, how do I actually support my body to function optimally, because your body is not going to be willing to let go of energy reserves when it feels like it’s under threat and like a threat could be not enough sleep. A threat could be if you’re overtraining, a threat could be if you’re, you’re under a lot of stress, and you’re not managing that. So I think that two absolute key things to do when you have a weight loss goal is to actually make sure that sleep is a priority for you. And in fact, I would say is probably the number one priority for you. And also managing stress, so implementing some form of stress management daily, not just exercise but something like deep belly breathing or yoga, meditation, listening to music, going for an ocean swim or getting out in nature, whatever really makes you feel restored that you can commit to on a daily basis, not just once a week, but a daily basis is really going to help with you achieving those, those weight loss goals quickly and also in the best health that you can. So I think, definitely a great point that you made there, Kate that, you know, one way that we can actually improve our sleep is to put a little bit of carbohydrates at dinner to help with that melatonin production. The next thing I was going to ask about Kate is, is there any particular like any other kind of things that you see people commonly do wrong that prevent them from achieving their weight loss goals, maybe besides just not getting enough sleep?
Kate Callaghan 16:36
I think sometimes you need to look deeper into things such as like your thyroid function.
Natalie K. Douglas
That can be a hidden cause of stubborn weight gain or inability to lose weight. So I would always get a full thyroid panel if it’s looking like you’re doing everything right, and nothing’s happening or I might look at basal body temperature tracking, which is a good way to see how your thyroid’s functioning. I often see people don’t have very realistic goals around weight loss. And that’s probably because we have shows like The Biggest Loser where people will lose, you know, 10 kilos in a week. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but you know, they might lose five kilos in a week, which is a lot, or even two kilos is still a lot. And so I might get clients who are losing, you know, half a kilo a week, and then really disheartened, they’re like, no, no, it’s not working, I need to do something more extreme, but half a kilo weight is all we would want to see on a healthy sustainable weight loss program.
Natalie K. Douglas 17:42
Yeah, absolutely. And sometimes it’s less than that if you don’t have that much to lose. So I’d agree with that, like realistic expectations are really important. And the other thing I think is really important is actually tracking your progress, you know, in a more reliable way. So obviously, we speak about weight, because it’s something that a lot of people are used to hearing and used to tracking but for my clients and Kate I’m sure for your clients, what we’d actually encourage focusing more on is how your clothes fit, how you look in the mirror. And also other options that I often get people to use if, if they want more of a tangible measurement would be photos in the same kind of life lighting and time of day and, and whatnot. And also, taking tape measurements if you, if you prefer, if you need that kind of number, reassurance, or you just want that number tracking. Because weight, scale weight can fluctuate significantly within a day. And even more significantly, with across the month because of the influence of hormones and inflammation and water retention and all that kind of stuff. And we really don’t want to be outsourcing our happiness and our feeling of accomplishment to such an unreliable figure. So, I definitely wouldn’t be using scale weight as your only or really using it at all in terms of tracking your body composition changes, it’s much better to use those other tools that are a bit more accurate and show body composition change as opposed to you know how much, what are weight you’re carrying that day or how your hormones are fluctuating. Because as much as we tell ourselves that that number doesn’t matter for a lot of us just because what we’ve kind of been conditioned to believe when we step on that scale, and we see it go up despite our best efforts. And even despite the fact that we might feel like our clothes are fitting differently, it can really start to create a lot of negative emotional feelings. And you really don’t want that because it’s not going to be helpful for your goal. And it’s also not helpful overall because while it’s great to have a weight loss goal, it’s really important to actually love yourself through that process at whatever your weight is.
Kate Callaghan 19:58
Yeah, I agree, I often recommend taking photos.
Natalie K. Douglas
I understand those weight loss or the before and after photos, I don’t understand why people have to put on their ugliest underwear and then post on Facebook.
Natalie K. Douglas 20:07
I know right and like frown at the first, like in the first one. And then like suddenly, they’re just like this extremely happy person with perfect teeth and makeup. I’m like damn like.
Kate Callaghan 20:18
Just get some underwear.
Natalie K. Douglas 20:25
Yeah, I know. Just wear the same stuff. Anyway, never mind. And then just suddenly get a 10 as well it’s like hmm. I see these strategies, anyway, a couple of other things that I would add to those kind of red flags or things that might be preventing weight loss. So I think the thyroid one was awesome that’s a really good one to be aware of. And as Kate said, make sure you actually getting the complete thyroid panel done. So we’ve done, I don’t know, I think we did a podcast on it. And we’ve also written a blog post on it as well. So I’ll link to both those that’s two in the show notes so you can have a read. But the other things I would say is having too much alcohol is going to be an issue. And also or particularly if you don’t have very much weight to lose, although even if you do have a lot of weight to lose, it can also be a big barrier to weight loss. And the other thing would be too much coffee. So I’m not saying you can’t have coffee at all, except for you Kate. But if you’re having a lot of coffee throughout the day, you’re constantly kind of creating a spike in insulin and, and dysregulated blood sugar and causing a spike in cortisol. And if that kind of stress response is continually happening throughout the day, it’s going to be much more difficult for you to achieve those weight loss goals. So if you’re someone who tolerates caffeine well, and you don’t have any issues with it, it doesn’t affect your sleep or your energy levels or it doesn’t give you like the jitters or anxiety, then for most people, you know, one coffee a day before midday is fine. But if you’re someone who’s quite affected by caffeine, or you’re going through a particularly stressful time, then I would encourage you to actually eliminate caffeine for a period of time and just see how that improves things for you as well. And, Kate, the last question that I was going to ask you was, do you have any advice around creating an environment that is conducive to weight loss?
Kate Callaghan 22:34
Natalie K. Douglas 22:35
So, I’ll start with one that I was actually thinking of, and then you can add, so my probably one, number one tip would be, try to avoid having too many rural treats or paleo treats, they’re often really energy-dense. And while they’re delicious, and they’re made from whole food, if you’re kind of having a few of those every day, it will start to add up and often although they have you know, natural, you know, quote-unquote, natural sources of sugar, like you know, dates or honey or things like that, it will start to add up and when you’re trying to put yourself in a slight energy deficit, sometimes that can be something that adds up without you being quite aware of it.
Kate Callaghan 23:22
Yeah, I agree. Also being prepared with your meals, cook your dinner and make extra for that the next day for lunch. So you don’t, you’re not left wondering what to eat the next day and you just go and get some burger or something. You’ve got a healthy meal prepared. I would also say just don’t buy foods that you know, you can’t just have one-off.
Natalie K. Douglas
So for me. Peanut butter? So for me, if I buy a big block of chocolate, I, I know I could eat it quite a significant amount of it. Like I’ll probably be stopped with just two squares. So I will get a little dark chocolate treat every now and then. I can’t have a lot because my children don’t tolerate it through my breast milk that will.
Natalie K. Douglas
Beautiful, delightful beings. Is what she was saying.
Yes, beautiful, delightful babies. Just don’t bite and have it in smaller sizes, small servings every now and then.
Natalie K. Douglas
But on the note, if you can restrict yourself to just not restrict but limit yourself, I guess to just one or two squares of dark chocolate a day. I think that’s also a healthy option to have in there.
Natalie K. Douglas 24:38
Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I agree. And like, I think that to be part of it is planning and also making sure that your environment is supporting those goals in what Kate was saying, and not keeping all of those really, really tempting foods in the house if you feel like you struggle with self-control around them. So definitely, that’s a really good tip. Kate, I think that that’s probably most of our things that we wanted to address on the subject of weight loss and just giving people a bit of an idea about how we approach it sensibly and how we actually track it. Was there anything else that you wanted to add to that discussion?
Kate Callaghan 25:19
I would say, tell someone your goals, so don’t just keep it to yourself, write it down, and write your goals somewhere where you can see it clearly. But also tell someone, tell your partner, tell your friend, tell your moms, just tell your dog, no, don’t tell your dog because they’re not going to be keeping you accountable.
Natalie K. Douglas
You’ll never know.
Somewhere where you can be held, or, tell someone so you can be held accountable if you’re really serious about it. It’s hard to stay on track unless you are accountable to someone outside of yourself. And also, if you don’t have a strong why, so also sit down and take some time to find out your personal why, as to why you want to lose weight. I mean, if it’s just for your friend’s wedding, that’s going gonna be next weekend. Well, that’s pretty unrealistic. You know, if it’s going to be a friend’s wedding, that’s, that’s when it’s going to come and go. But if it’s something like, I want to lose weight, so I can run around with my kids when I’m 45 and that’s something that’s going to be inherently more motivating for you. And that’s going to keep you on track for the long term.
Natalie K. Douglas 26:17
Yeah. And I’d say another thing to be aware of, is, try not to let other people’s projections of their insecurities have a negative effect on your goal. So what I mean by that is the friend that when you say, Oh, I’m on a diet, and when they’re like, Oh, I’ll just eat whatever I want, I can’t, I like, I don’t do that, that’s too too hard, or there’s no point, you only live once. Don’t let those little comments get to you. I think it’s it’s easy, like food, diet, body image, all that kind of stuff is a very emotional topic for a lot of people. And a lot of people, if you tell them that you have a weight loss goal and you’re on a plan, and you’re doing really well with it, they can often get quite defensive and that can come out in a negative way that makes you feel like Oh, am I uptight for, you know, having some kind of consciousness about what I’m putting in my body and having this goal. But the truth is that what people are saying is, like in response to you is very rarely a an accurate description of what’s actually what they actually think of you, it’s much more a reflection of what’s going on for them internally. So you don’t need to attack them and say, Oh, this is, this is just about you. Like I don’t advise doing that. Just listen and just recognize that it’s okay if people don’t approve or don’t support it, or have those kind of opinions. But don’t let it get to you. Because as Kate said, you write down your why, you know why you’re doing and why it’s important to you. And you stick with that. And it’s okay to have, you know, weight loss goals and to to, you know, follow a plan or to do something that’s more attention to detail, than you know what other people are doing, it’s totally okay. And, as a last note, I am going to give a little bit of a shameless plug, I do actually at the moment have quite a few spots, about 10 spots left before the end of the year for meal planning packages. So I have three options available. So you can purchase 4-week, 8-week, or 12-week meal planning packages. And basically, they are targeted more towards people who have a weight loss goal, who feel a bit overwhelmed when it comes to how much should they eat, and what should they eat and how do I actually make this fit in with my, my training and my goals and still have optimal health and not send myself into a place where my body becomes super stressed and can’t maintain that weight loss. So if that’s something that you’re interested in, please feel free to reach out or have a look on my website. Because sometimes, as Kate said, it can be really helpful having someone to hold you accountable to your goal. And with those packages, I do have online support for the whole duration of your, of your packages. But if you’re someone who’s pretty confident with you know, doing your meal plan by yourself and having those goals, then go for it, just use the strategies that we’ve discussed today. And if you hit a plateau and you’re finding that you’re struggling, then you can reach out to, to a practitioner that can maybe help put you in the right direction. So.
Natalie K. Douglas
I think that is all for today. Kate, is there anything going on for you at the moment that you needed to make people aware of?
Kate Callaghan 29:48
I’m still on maternity leave until the end of next month. But my book, Holistic Nutrition is still available and I’ve got quite a few weight-loss strategies in there in terms of food and lifestyle and exercise strategies.
Natalie K. Douglas 30:01
Awesome. Awesome. Alright, well, we will wrap up there. As always, if you guys have questions or comments or feedback or anything like that, feel free to get in contact with one of us. Otherwise, we will hear from you all in a couple of weeks time. Kate, thanks for joining us and I’ll speak to you soon.
Kate Callaghan 30:21
Natalie K. Douglas
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Natalie K. Douglas | Thyroid Healer
Natalie K. Douglas shows women with Thyroid problems how to heal themselves in less than 30 minutes a day. Guaranteed.
Over the past decade, she's helped treat over 10,000 Australian women, trained more than 5,000 health practitioners.
Her clients say she’s the right girl to see if you’ve tried the conventional approach and nothing has worked.
Kate Callaghan | The Holistic Nutritionist
Kate Callaghan is a Holistic Nutritionist, Personal Trainer and Lifestyle Coach who specializes in women's hormone healing.
She recognizes that there is no “one size fits all” diet or “magic bullet” which is going to cure all illnesses.
She focuses on having a thorough understanding of your personal goals, needs, likes/dislikes, support networks and lifestyle in order to create a food and lifestyle approach that suits YOU.