Forget the sit-ups and juice cleanses - if you really need to lose weight, a slow cooker and yoga could form some of your best strategies according to Sports Nutritionist Scott Baptie…
When we tell you that Sports Nutritionist Scott Baptie is professional pals with The Angry Chef , you’ll probably get a sense that he’s decisively anti-fad, not into the clean eating business and has a keen ‘woo’ radar. He’s just published his first book, 101 Ways to Lose Weight and Never Find It Again (catchy) and it’s full of nuggets of wisdom to debunk the many myths surrounding diet, fitness and weight loss and tell you what the latest academic research and his experience in sports coaching and nutrition really say about staying healthy for the long-term. Here’s his starter for ten (or five) on how to actually lose weight well, without the ‘wellness’ smoke and mirrors. There’s 96 more where the likes of this came from in his book too...
‘Cardioaccelerate’ your workouts
You’ve probably not heard of cardioacceleration training before but it’s a fantastic way to add in a cardio component to a weights workout and rev up the calories you burn in the process.
All you have to do is include 30–60 seconds of high intensity cardio between your sets of weight lifting . Let’s say you’re doing an upper body workout and you’ve just done a set of shoulder presses. Rather than just sitting around, playing on your phone or people-watching, you bust out 30–60 seconds of cardio like burpees , mountain climbers, star jumps, running on the spot, and so on.
You get the benefits of a HIIT workout and a resistance training workout at the same time! In scientific term this is called ‘concurrent training’, and there is evidence that shows that it’s the bee’s knees.
In one study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, participants who performed cardioacceleration between sets experienced greater increases in lower body strength, lower body endurance, fat-free mass and flexibility compared with the group who didn’t do cardioacceleration.
It gets better. A similar study by the same authors, found that cardioacceleration also rapidly reduces the duration participants experience DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). DOMS is the aching feeling you get in your muscles after a hard workout or if you start a new sport or exercise that you’ve either not done before or not done in a while. Think walking upstairs after a leg workout .
Putting it into practice
Firstly, I wouldn’t do this in every workout; I would perhaps only include it on occasion to mix things up and only on an upper body day. I wouldn’t want to give up my precious rest periods between squats and deadlifts in favour of 30 seconds of burpees.
Secondly, you have to make sure that it doesn’t impact on the quality of your workout or increase your risk of injury. Sure, it can be a great way to increase calorie burn, but if it comes at the cost of you lifting less total volume in your workout because you’re gassed, then it’s not going to be worth it.
The takeaway: Cardioacceleration can be a great way to get the benefits of a HIIT workout and resistance training in one, but don’t go overboard. Incorporating it a couple of times per week alone is going to increase calorie expenditure.
Get slow cooking for a healthier body and bank balance
Slow cookers are a must-have if you want to win at meal prep. Throw your food into your slow cooker in the morning and head off to work. Walk in the door eight hours later and you’ve got a delicious pot of rich, meaty, juicy food to feed the whole family.
How can this help you lose weight? By ensuring that you can never use the ‘I don’t have time to cook healthy meals’ excuse. Plus, they’re an easy way to cook up big batches of healthy meals and freeze them in portions.
What’s more, food that’s cooked slowly at a low temperature tends to retain more vitamins, and serving the dish with the gravy it was cooked in helps increase its nutritional content.
Slow cookers can be great for veg-averse people, too. It’s very easy to throw a tonne of different vegetables into the slow cooker. Because the veg is cooked with the meat, they take on a delicious rich, meaty flavour. If the thought of boiled carrots doesn’t float your boat, throw them into your favourite stew in the slow cooker and the flavours will transform into something far more delicious.
Another benefit is that it’s a really cost-effective method of cooking. Compared to an electric oven, they use considerably less energy. Your oven uses around 4,000 watts of power for each hour it runs. Slow cookers, on the other hand, use just 300 watts.
You could argue that of course you’ve got your slow cooker on for far longer, but let’s say that you’ve got a hunk of beef brisket that would take two hours to roast in an oven but six hours in a slow cooker. Even with the longer cooking time, the slow cooker would use a total of 1,800 watts. The oven would use 8,000 watts. Since electricity is priced by usage, using a slow cooker is much greener and cheaper!
Another way that slow cookers save money is that you can get away with using cheaper, tougher cuts of meat that you wouldn’t normally use if you were in a hurry.
From a flavour point of view, when you cook meat at a low temperature for several hours, the collagen and connective tissues have a chance to soften, which tenderises the meat. Slow cooking brings out the best in their flavour and it can transform cheap cuts of meat into delicious, juicy chunks of meat that quite literally melt in your mouth.
Here’s a high protein slow cooker recipe to get you started, and in case you’re wondering my slow cooker of choice is Morphy Richards 6.5L , £30.
Slow-Cooker Peanut Chicken
1kg chicken breast, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
120g peanut butter
1 tbsp cornflour
400g can of chopped tomatoes
1 red chilli, deseeded
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp soy sauce
Throw all of the ingredients into the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for five hours. It's literally that easy.
Become a yogi for better weight loss results
Increased flexibility , increased muscle strength, improved energy and vitality, protection from injury, improved athletic performance, and weight loss.
Yoga seems to be the ultimate activity if you want to improve your all-round health and wellbeing along with your waistline.
One study of 80 obese males found that after 14 weeks of yoga, participants experienced a reduction in weight, body mass index and skin fold thickness.
So how exactly does yoga help you lose weight? Researchers at the NIH Clinical Centre found five main reasons for how it can help you on your quest to drop excess pounds:
1. Yoga can result in an increase in mindful eating , changes in food choices, and decreased emotional and/or stress related eating. The culture of yoga can aid weight loss in that yoga teachers and more advanced yoga practitioners often serve as role models for healthy behaviours and there is a strong sense of support among the yoga community.
2. The physiological changes from yoga include increased muscle tone, increased strength and changes in metabolism that can enhance weight loss.
3. Yoga can promote a shift in mindset away from weight loss and towards health, spirituality, increased mindfulness and focus, improved mood and emotional stability, reduced stress, and increased self-esteem and self-acceptance.
4. A yoga regime is often more enjoyable to adhere to in comparison to traditional ‘restriction diets’ which can make it more enjoyable.
5. Yoga is even more accessible than ever. You don’t even need to go to a class. There are a multitude of free yoga classes online and plenty of mobile apps that you can download to help you go from being stiff to relatively flexible in next to no time.
Skip sit-ups and perfect your planks instead
If you’re trying to burn fat, sit-ups are probably one of the most useless exercises you could do, yet you see so many people doing them in the gym in a quest for a flatter, tighter stomach.
Why sit-ups don’t work
You can’t burn fat from a specific body part by exercising it. This is called the ‘spot reduction myth’. Doing tricep exercises won’t get rid of fat from the arms, working on the glutes won’t burn fat from the bum and sit-ups, crunches or any abdominal exercise for that matter, won’t burn fat from the belly.
Unfortunately, you can’t decide where you’re going to lose body fat from. If you’re in a calorie deficit and you’re exercising efficiently your body will gradually shed its fat from most places where it’s stored. Some of us will see it go from the face more quickly; others will notice their waist coming in; others still will find it goes from their bum first. We’re all different and how our body fat is distributed, and where we lose it from first, varies significantly.
Although sit-ups don’t have much, if any, effect on your abdominal fat, they do have some merit in that they will help to strengthen your core and improve muscular endurance. However, there are better core exercises that you could be doing instead.
Leg raises and ab rollouts are both very challenging. If you struggle to do a rollout with an abs wheel, you can start off by doing it on an exercise ball. It’s a good idea to include some isometric exercises too. Isometric exercises are done in ‘static positions’, rather than being dynamic (when you do a lot of movement). Isometric abdominal exercises include the plank , side planks and bird dogs .
Quit the ‘no pain no gain’ mentality
The no-pain, no-gain approach that worked for Rocky Balboa coupled with the copious memes you will have seen about the ‘feeling after leg day’ might make you think that exercise is a waste of time unless you struggle to walk by the end. Having DOMS – that sore feeling after a tough workout – is a futile high that many chase each and every time they head to the gym or go for a run. Here’s why...
DOMS is caused by connective tissue and muscle damage. This causes inflammation, hence the discomfort. It is most likely experienced after a new training stimulus (a change to exercises or volume), not simply after a ‘hardcore workout’. If you’re using exercise alongside diet to burn fat, then your primary goals are to burn as many calories in the workout as possible while maintaining muscle mass. Your goal is not to brutalise your body so that it takes days for you to recover, increase your risk of injury or force yourself through a type of workout that you hate.
Although high-intensity workouts have a lot of benefits, they also have relatively poor adherence (i.e, making them a habit) and, as you should know by now, adherence is key. If high-intensity workouts aren’t for you, don’t do them!
A workout should be appropriate for your goals and abilities. Despite what you’ll see on Instagram, it doesn’t need to be ‘hardcore,’ and adherence is the number one factor. Do what you enjoy!
101 Ways to Lose Weight and Never Find It Again by Scott Baptie (Quadrille £15) Photography: Jack Lawson
Find out more about Scott at foodfotfitness.co.uk and follow him on Instagram and Twitter