Why you need to question everything you have ever been told by The Body Coach

That face you pull when someone says eat more, move less, lose weight.
I want to preface this blog by saying I have nothing against Joe Wicks. As with the rest of the world I think he is a nice enough guy and some of his recipes are delicious, I have made some too. Where that ends for me with Joe and his whole The Body Coach movement is when it comes to his nutrition and training advice.

It’s a sad fact (probably since caveman times if they had personal training then) that it isn’t the ones who know best and get the best results who rise to the top. It’s the ones who can shout the loudest about their services and sell them better than anyone else. You see a lot of fantastic personal trainers and strength and conditioning coaches pack it in because they can’t grasp the business, marketing and sales elements. Sadly, the opposite is true also.

Joe Wicks is a
marketing extraordinaire. He’s a lovable chap with delicious hair and ladies love him (and a lot of guys too for that matter). This is a big deal, there is research to show we are more likely to buy from someone we like and find attractive than someone we do not. You don’t need to look into the pillars of influence or understand social psychology to get your head around that, it’s as simple as Sex Sells. Joe’s advice comes straight out of ‘Bro’ folklore and the results he gets are in spite of his methods, not because of them.

People often talk of the ‘insane’ results he gets. But does he? I believe 2500 people per week sign up on to his program but you only see 15 or so transformations on social media. That’s less than 1%. What happens to the other 99%?

So we want to try and readdress the balance and re-educate people. Everything we do at Platform is ground in science and then we take that and do two things with it, apply it to the individual and make it fun. This is why it is so disheartening to see someone with the reach and influence of Joe Wicks spouting damaging harmful information about health and exercise. So lets not waste anymore time, lets delve right in to where he goes wrong.

1) Eating big meals to fuel your metabolism

So this one gets banded about A LOT. And not just by joe wicks you normally here it in one of two forms. Either eat big meals to ‘rev’ up your metabolism or eat little and often to get your metabolism firing.

There is a couple of ways we could take this one but I’m going to start of by setting out the most important point when it comes to weight loss. The ONLY driver of weight-loss, and I mean ONLY, is Calories. Consuming less calories per day than you need to lose weight, which is called a calorie deficit.

This is the only driver for weight loss. It doesn’t matter if you only eat
ice cream, if you eat late at night or if you have 1 meal a day vs 6 meals a day. As long as you are in a calorie deficit you can do what you want.

So leading on from the above, trying to time your meals to speed up your metabolism so than you can drive weight-loss is futile. You may speed up your metabolism but eat a calorie surplus and it doesn’t matter, you are still going to gain weight.

2) HIIT as some kind of miracle work out

Joe throws HIIT training into the mix like its some kind of magic bullet. It’s not. No training is (well maybe weightlifting, but its less of a magic bullet and more an extremely powerful tool to help with pretty much any exercise goal).

For those who don’t know HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. The idea is that you go through short busts of exercise usually up near 100% of max, with short rest periods and do this for a short period of time. So it might be 30 seconds as hard as you can, 30 second break with 20 different exercises. 20 minutes work and your done.

Looking back over the first 2 points of Joe’s message and you can see why it is so popular, eat big meals and only train from home for 20 minutes a day, 3-5x per week, and he’ll make you drop back into the clothes you have been struggling to get back in to since you had kids… it’s a powerful message but as we are finding out it’s not entirely true.

So back to where we were, the problem with HIIT. Again we can take this a couple of ways.

The first way is that for his typical demographic, young mums and dads who generally don’t do much real intense exercise, HIIT training is a one-way ticket to the physio. When we perform jumping action’s we can have upwards of 16x bodyweight of force go through our body on impact with the ground depending on your landing strategy. Put this into one leg such as in the jump variation he gets people to do and it is setting people up for injury.

Just put that into perspective. A potential of 16x bodyweight through one leg. Lets say his average client weight 70kg. 70kg x 16 = 1120 kg of force through one leg. Ouch.

Jumping is a fantastic exercise and as such we use it within our fitness classes in Platform and also with the athlete’s we train. Plyometrics (the type of activity jumping falls into) are a powerful tool to use if you are looking to improve how much force and power you can produce. Of course, because of the amount of muscle mass we use to perform these actions you also get a large demand on the cardiovascular system. Use this in the right environment, under supervision with the right jumping and landing mechanics and the results can be awesome.

But to ask a young mum whose only experience of exercise is running/ swimming/ cycling to jump up and down on one leg (who has no idea of the landing mechanics required to stay safe) for 30 seconds while following a video demonstrating the movement should be a criminal act.

The most upsetting thing is that the vast majority of his customers just need help. They have fallen into a rut and need proper some guidance to help them feel worthwhile again, to find their confidence and get their life back on track. Throwing massive plates of 1000 calorie ‘build-up’ bagels at them and asking them to perform single leg tucks is not the answer. It saddens me to think that so many of the people who reach out to Joe for help will end up either injuring themselves and falling off track, losing motivation and ending up £200 down for no benefit or will get through the plan injury free, be £200 less off and be back to square one.  

The second is the caloric loss for HIIT and the fact you may be better doing steady state. That’s right. After all that you may be better doing a 30 minute jog than a 20 minute HIIT. But of course a 30 minute jog doesn’t sell very well does it?

Here’s why:

Depending on how fit you are you may not be able tolerate high intensity activities for very long. You have 3 main energy systems in your body and unless you spend periods of time with your heart regularly above 75% or so of its maximum then one of your energy systems is going to be pretty underdeveloped – your anaerobic energy system.

Many of you have probably experienced this before. You are just getting back into the gym after a lay off, you go too hard and you are wiped out within 5 minutes. I mean completely done, you wont be training again for a few days. This is because your anaerobic energy system is so underdeveloped and inefficient you just could not tolerate what was going on.

Let’s say you were a little wiser so you didn’t go 100% on your first couple of times back so you reigned it in a little and cruised through the HIIT session. In them two scenarios (5 minutes of failure or 20 minutes of easy street) how many calories do you think you will have burned? Not a lot is the answer. You wouldn’t truly know without gas analysis but the likely answer is around 150-250 calories at a push. But if you went for a steady jog, got yourself to the limit that you could hold for 20-30 minutes and stayed at that then you are more likely to hit that 250 calorie mark meaning if your exercising to burn calories (which you shouldn’t be, your deficit should come from your diet) then you may be better off doing a steady run to lose weight.

If you are in great shape and have been training well for years then HIIT might be a viable alternative, but it isn’t the golden rule for fat loss and should be well down the pecking order if you are just starting out.

3) Eating fat makes you burn fat and turns you into a fat burning machine

This might be the case but again there are two things at play here.

The first thing is that it is VERY easy to over consume calories with high fat foods. 1g of carbohydrate or protein equates to 4 calories but 1g of fat equates to 9 calories. So if your meal
contains 74g of fat as some of the recipies do in the lean in 15 books then you will be consuming 666 calories of fat before you have even begun to factor in any carbohydrate and protein in the meal. The average 70kg woman will be looking around 1600 calories a day to create a deficit. That meal alone is going to take out about half of her daily intake to achieve fat loss. 1 meal per day for fat loss anyone? Sure it will work but it wont be fun or sustainable.

The second thing to point out is that yes your body will burn more fat if you consume more fat but there is a difference between burning fat and losing body fat. You will simply burn more fat by burning the fat you have consumed, unless your in a calorie deficit you aren’t going to reduce body fat.

One final point on the whole fat topic is the coconut oil on everything. Joe claims its full of MCTs which are great for us but each serving is only about 10% MCTs… the rest is saturated fat.

4) Eating ‘healthy homecooked’ food will make you lose fat

Ask most people what they need to do to lose weight and they will say eat healthy. Joe has cottoned on to this too with his cookbooks and ethos around his programs. His meals in themselves could be great meals for your health, it's going to be packed with an array of amino acids (proteins) and loads of vitamins and minerals.

But that doesn't mean it's going to help you lose weight.

Weight loss is driven by calorie intake… as we have mentioned. Simple in theory (but less simple in practice). Put simply: Eat less calories than you need. So people try and do that by swapping pizza and curry for the chicken and bagel recipies in Joe’s cookbook. Problem is that chicken and bagels contains calories too, same as pizza and curry.
And a lot of people tend to eat more food when they think its healthy. So they pile their plate with 'healthy food' but at the same time pile it with calories too. It's true, lot's of people will lose weight by swapping to 'healthier' foods - purely by the fact that 'healthier foods' are generally lower in calories than 'unhealthy foods'. But you could keep eating your pizza and curry AND lose weight whereby swapping to chicken and build up bagels you might keep on gaining.

So what now then?!

You may be more confused now than you were before. You have probably been lead to believe for so long that Joe Wicks has a one stop shop to make you melt fat and feel better and now here we are saying that’s not the case.

We don’t want you to leave more confused than when you arrived on our page so we have put together an action plan for you that will get you on track. Sustainably and properly.

1) Work out what you're eating.

Like it or not calories are what matter. You need to know how many you are eating and how many you need per day to create a deficit. One easy equation you can use to get you started is your bodyweight in kg x 23.5. This will be a start off number for you to work out how many calories you need per day to lose weight. If you weigh 70kg then it will be 70 x 23.5 = 1645 calories per day to lose weight.

2) Consume enough protein.

This is important. Muscle is good for our health. Consuming enough protein while in a calorie deficit will help to protect ourselves from muscle loss regardless of any exercise.

Aim for your bodyweight in kg x 2 for protein.

If you weight 70kg then 70kg x 2 = 140g protein per day.

3) Move more, preferably do some weightlifting.

Like we have mentioned, muscle is good to our health. It helps regulate our metabolism and an
increase in strength is linked to an increase in health. We would always recommend you try some weightlifting, if you don’t know where to begin then reach out to a coach. We run strength and condition sessions 7 days a week that will help improve your physical and mental health, help you to lose fat and get you stronger.

Once you have got that box ticked then move more.

Aim for 10,000 steps per day on days you don’t exercise. It’s such a powerful yet underused method of improving your health that you should definitely look to implement to improve your own health and fitness.

Follow the three steps above and you are well on track to finding a better you. Or the old you you are trying to find again. You don’t need to send The Bodycoach £200 to get you there. Just follow the simple principles of a calorie deficit and weightlifting 3x per week and you are well on your way.

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Thanks for reading.