How to balance diet and physical training

Sometimes the desire to lose weight becomes an obsession. Here is some practical advice on how to balance diet and physical training to achieve longer-lasting results.

Often people who want to achieve their ideal weight go on restrictive and drastic diets to get immediate results in terms of weight loss.

Going on a low calorie diet is not the most effective way to lose weight: indeed the weight loss is not genuine, in the sense that the diet makes you lose liquids and muscle tissue, but not fat mass.

The risks of low calorie diets

Diets giving only excessively low calories can contribute to the onset of a series of complaints, for example a decrease in the volume of blood; blood becomes more viscous due to dehydration; problems with thermoregulation, and a reduction of the reserves of glycogen in the liver and muscles causes loss of strength and energy.

In the example of a low-carbohydrate diet, a drastic reduction of carbohydrates may be dangerous in that you may lack the glucose that your body needs. Since your body must find it somewhere, it will activate metabolic mechanisms to take the necessary glucose from the proteins in your muscles.

The right physical activity

With regard to physical activity, we have already talked about the importance of combining aerobic activity and strength exercises.
It is when the focus is only on aerobic exercise that there may be a risk of doing many hours of activity without seeing any results.

Under stress your body may bring defence mechanisms into play, which lead to reduced metabolism, increased fluid retention and tiredness.

These "symptoms" are most usually produced by cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, which is released when your body is under stress and/or tired.
When there are too few nutrients in your bloodstream, the stress hormone acts by breaking down muscle proteins, and this reduces your muscle mass.
Moreover, cortisol increases the deposit of fat especially around the abdomen, as a consequence of the excessive increase of glucose in your blood.

You need to find the right combination of physical exercise and stress to submit your body to, in order to benefit most from physical activity, without triggering the adverse effects linked to the stress hormone.

Working out on an empty stomach: yes or no?

Another widespread habit amongst those who want to slim is working out on an empty stomach. On one hand there may be an advantage in terms of higher consumption of energy, but on the other hand it is risky in that this may trigger an excessive increase in your body's catabolic reactions, that is, the reactions that cause the breakdown of the energy substrates that generate energy.

The recommended duration of aerobic activity on an empty stomach is about 40 minutes; beyond that limit you may risk using protein as a supply of energy, so using your muscle mass instead of body fat for energy.

Working out on an empty stomach also requires particular care as it may increase the risk of a hypoglycemic crisis, characterised by cold sweats, feeling faint, paleness, dizziness, trembling and even actual fainting.
If you experience these symptoms, it may be helpful to immediately eat food containing lots of sugars, such as chocolate, honey or sugary drinks or better still, eat a carbohydrate-rich meal.

Remember: it is important not to be in too much of a hurry to achieve the results you are aiming for. You need patience, determination, motivation and perseverance to achieve your goals while at the same time safeguarding your health.