Hi friends! I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the recaps of what I learned at the nutrition conference last week! If you missed my first recap, find that here. It was a really fascinating meeting, and I’m so thankful that my job allowed me to go and learn so much! Here’s my final recap of what I learned. 🙂
On Resistance Training and Macros
This was my favorite session of the whole meeting! In this presentation, a doctor and a registered dietician from George Washington University (right in DC!) gave an overview of their weight loss center that focuses on a combination of strength/resistance training and nutrition plans that focus on macros.
First, the duo talked about their recommended exercise program, which focuses solely on weight training. They explained that during a cardio session, you will burn more calories while you are exercising, but then your body recovers and pretty much goes back to normal as soon as you’re done. When you do strength training or resistance training (basically, anything with weights) your body might burn fewer calories at first, but will continue burning them throughout the rest of the day.
Strength training will also raise your metabolic rate more than cardio will, so you’ll be able to lose more weight over time and eat more than you would if you were just doing cardio.
They also stressed the importance of pushing yourself to lift heavy weights – while being safe of course – and to always try to improve and lift more than you did last time. It takes a lot of energy for your body to repair your muscles after strength training, and that’s what burns those calories! I loved this discussion and thought it made a lot of sense.
Next they talked about nutrition, and how adjusting your macros to meet your specific needs can help shed excess fat. In their program, they analyze each participant with a fancy machine that shows exactly how much fat is in their body, and then they prescribe target macros depending on your body’s particular makeup.
For example, they explained that most participants are supposed to aim for somewhere around 20% daily calories from fat, 45% daily calories from protein, 35% daily calories from carbs. Each participant gets custom targets based on their individual needs. They then work with you to determine how many grams of each food type you should be eating each day to meet these targets, and encourage you to carefully track your meals.
The biggest thing they stressed is that most people don’t consume enough protein. They said that eating more protein each day can reduce your percentage of body fat even if you don’t change anything else in your fitness routine or diet. Wow!
I thought everything they said was so interesting, and am definitely going to be picking up heavier weights and eating more protein from now on.
On Portion Size
We’ve all heard the advice to use smaller plates to eat less, right? But does that advice actually work? One of the presentations at the meeting was about portion sizes and whether using smaller plates really does make a difference in the number of calories you consume. The researcher giving the presentation has examined lots of existing data and completed a few studies herself, and she found that sadly, that advice doesn’t make much of a difference.
First, she explained that people are likely going to eat almost all of the food that is put on their plate. So, if someone is given a big plate with a lot of food vs. a smaller plate with less food then yes, that should make a difference in how much someone eats. However, if you are at a buffet or in a setting where you are serving yourself, choosing a smaller plate doesn’t make much of a difference in the number of calories you consume. Womp womp.
She conducted one study with men and women at a buffet, where one group was given small plates and the other group was given big plates. What she found was that people with the small plates went back to the buffet over and over again, and wound up filling their plates multiple times and eating just as much as the group that had big plates (BTW – the men also consumed way more than the women!).
She also conducted another study where she analyzed what was going on the plates, and she found that with smaller plates, vegetables were the first thing to go. I guess they’d rather use that valuable real estate for the mac ‘n’ cheese and other goodies! (I mean…really who can blame them? 😉 haha)
In her opinion, the most effective way to manage portion sizes and eat less is to focus on filling at least half your plate with vegetables (not something calorie-dense like sweet potatoes) and then use the other half of your plate for the rest of the food. Sadly, she doesn’t think the size of the plate matters much.
Good to know!
Anyway, those are the most interesting sessions from the meeting in my opinion! There were a few others that I enjoyed hearing about – including how effective apps and fitness trackers are for losing weight – but I didn’t think they were interesting enough to write a whole blurb on them here. I’m happy to talk about them in a different post though; just let me know if you want to hear about it!
Question of the day: Cardio or strength training?