Martin Macdonald of MAC Nutrition seminar July 2019

Recently Luke and some of the B2R team spent the day with Martin MacDonald delving into the latest research on all things nutrition and weight management.

Martin is known for his ‘no-nonsense’ evidence based methods. You can read more about Martin and his online nutrition courses here.

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It took me a long time to write the articles found in lean living, with my best attempt at providing evidence based guidance in a field that is not my specialist training. Martin on the other hand, is a specialist in the field of nutrition and someone we reach out to and trust with his reflection of the nutrition evidence base. It was reassuring that many of the concepts we have wrote about, including much of the literature was consistent with what Martin presented. If you haven’t seen our overview of diet programming, you can check it out here . I wrote this 3.5 years ago, my opinion on some things have changed, but on the whole its still pretty solid (such is science!).

There are many parallels in the pain and nutrition literature. Both fields are confusing and full of conflicting information making the requirement for being evidence based all the more important to be able to navigate this. When we are working with humans; in pain, smoking, overeating or not exercising we are trying to change or influence behaviour and this always brings us back round to this adherence thing.

At the centre of B2R mission statement is getting people more active and finding an activity they enjoy - to battle this exercise adherence issue. Helping people find an eating strategy that they can stick with is equally challenging. Martin does a great job at presenting this literature and educating people on the simple principles that dictate long term body weight management.

Just like us, he presented the characteristics of ‘blue zones’ . Eating habits are not going to occur in isolation from your physical activity, your family, your role in your community and so on and so forth; presenting the healthiest people in the world (although this is not high level evidence) to us came as no surprise.

Image reproduced from Gold Medal Bodies (GMB) with permission.

Image reproduced from Gold Medal Bodies (GMB) with permission.

Above is a table we have used with permission in the past to outline the pros and cons of several popular diets. All of these diets work for the simple reason that they restrict your calories in one form or another. It is on this basis that I personally have been a major proponent of ‘flexible dieting’ which outlines that as long as we eat generally whole or minimally processed foods then we can get just about anything into our diet, at any time and still look after the waist line (see example below).

Ignore the stance and gaze, in 2016 before I started B2R I asked my girlfriend to pick a food that is classically labelled as ‘bad’. She chose Ben and Jerries (thanks!). I then applied flexible dieting with gradual calorie restriction for 10 weeks including Ben and Jerries every single day right up to this photo shoot where I got pretty lean. Flexible dieting works, for some people.

Ignore the stance and gaze, in 2016 before I started B2R I asked my girlfriend to pick a food that is classically labelled as ‘bad’. She chose Ben and Jerries (thanks!). I then applied flexible dieting with gradual calorie restriction for 10 weeks including Ben and Jerries every single day right up to this photo shoot where I got pretty lean. Flexible dieting works, for some people.

Martin is doing a world tour presently, and he made a real case for the bottom strategy on the table above, intermittent fasting or what he describes as ‘aggressive dieting’. There are many ways to skin a cat and this was a reminder to me that the very reason many diets are dismissed by folks in the ‘evidence based’ community; it only works because it reduces calories, is exactly why you might want to consider it; to reduce your calories. Duh.

that diet only works because it reduces calories. Well how about you try that diet out if it means you will reduce your calories
— Hit home point for me at Martin MacDonald Conference July 2019

Its true that any diet will make you lose weight, however finding a strategy one can adhere to in the long term and stick to is always going to be an individual conundrum. Martin presented a convincing case for ‘aggressive dieting’ leading to increased rates of adherence.1 The basic premise of these findings is that the single most reinforcing factor in weight loss is stepping on the scales and actually seeing the weight go down; 'oh that worked, I'll do that again'. This seemed to actually reflect a higher chance in the future of getting the weight off and keeping it off.

Maybe a more surprising idea is the prospect that being put on a more aggressive weight loss plan to lose weight quicker (4 weeks) as oppose to a more steady drawn out (8 weeks) plan could actually result in LESS HUNGER during the process.2 When I read research apparently flying in the face of (my) logic, that can only call for one thing...

But If I skip breakfast I’m hungry, if I skip elevenses I am miserable, if I skip lunch then I will explode with hunger….