Assuming a goal of weight-loss, What would be the very first and most effective step one should take to ensure the best chance of success?

A gym membership?.. or a diet? 

Its neither actually. Nor is it a step that requires any physical effort at all. In my opinion the most important factor in determining a sustainable change towards a better body composition and improved health is understanding the body and the processes that occur within it, especially when we eat.

Knowledge is power!
Calories do matter, however it is imperative to understand that what our bodies do with these calories is all dictated by our hormones. Think of Hormones as the CEO's and the calories are just the minion workers with nothing more than a herd mentality work ethic when left alone.

Enter; Phil Learney and his Podcast. Phil is a guy I greatly admire in the Health and Fitness Industry. He consistently puts out great information and most importantly he breaks everything down into a really easy to understand manor.

Episode 9 of his podcast is an absolute must to listen to for EVERYONE on PLANET EARTH. 

It still amazes me to this day how little we are educated about food and how our bodies respond to the different types. This stuff should be covered in Biology in our schools.
Funny that we learn about algebra, geography and foreign languages yet when it comes to how we fuel the intricate machinery of the flesh and bones we live in every day of our lives, we are remarkably ignorant. 

Increase you chances of survival in this game of life by listening to this weeks Episode.
I recommend anyone with an interest in Strength Training, Nutrition and Optimal Health to follow Phil Learney on his social media, and definitely listen through all 23 (and counting) Podcasts he's put out.

Key points to get you started:

  • Leptin hormone: Known as the "satiety hormone", it is made by fat cells and regulates the amount of fat stored in the body. It does this by adjusting both the sensation of hunger, and adjusting energy expenditures. Hunger is inhibited (satiety) when the amount of fat stored reaches a certain level.
    *Not something you want functioning incorrectly if fat loss is the goal!
  • Insulin hormone: Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells in the pancreas. It regulates the metabolism (breakdown and use) of carbohydrates and fats by promoting the absorption of glucose from the blood into muscle cells OR into fat tissue if the muscle cells are either full of glucose already, or have become unresponsive to insulin.
    *Keep all the muscle cells in your body sensitive to the smallest amounts of insulin throughout your life to prevent burning out your pancreas.
  • Alcoholics trying to give up booze aren't told to reward themselves with a 'cheat-drink' once a week, so why in the diet industry is a cheat-meal so frequently condoned or even prescribed for substantially over weight people at the beginning of a diet? 
  • Healthy sustainable changes take time, there is no quick fix. Phil explains 2 main reasons for this:
  1. The hormonal system specifically the hormones related to appetite and glucose management are out of whack, re-regulation within the body takes time.
  2. Quite often the poor food choices of many many years have damaged a persons digestive system and compromised absorption of nutrients. This to, takes time to correct itself and often avoidance of certain foods will need to be adopted indefinitely to allow the gut to heal.

Summary: If you are looking to lose body fat, don't just sit back and blindly follow various diet guidelines, one after the other without attempting to understand the why. Take an interest in your body and why it does what it does under various conditions. I can assure you success will be much more likely if you put some brain power into it. 
As Einstein once said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

If you missed last weeks Health-Homework, check it out here "How the Paleo Diet works" and download the podcast to listen to on your commute to work!

Happy listening!