The old adage, one size does not fit all has never been truer. We now know that there are so many things that affect our body composition and it wouldn’t be wise to follow the same advice for example, at work, for my mum or my friend or the person off the road – you’ve really got to throw out that one size fits all and focus on personalization.

What’s going to work for you? For your particular body type, your personal situation, your injury status, your food, and your lifestyle. We also know the oversimplification of eat less and move more doesn’t work for us. Yes, it’s very good, broad strokes advice – move less, eat more, and there is a certain element of truth in terms of the calorie balance, but what we know now about calories is that a calorie is not a calorie.

For example, a calorie of fat differs from protein, differs from carbohydrate and the effect on our bodies of those macro nutrients can vary wildly from one of us to another. I, for example, am highly sensitive to carbohydrate, I know this because I’ve done a DNA test. I also know that I’ve got medium sensitivity to saturated fat – which means a diet rich in saturated fat or carbohydrate is going to lead to very unstable energy levels, unstable blood sugars and probably weight management issues. But for you that might be the opposite – you might have very low sensitivity of carbohydrate, low sensitivity to saturated fat so a ketogenic diet or a high carb diet would suit you depending on your activity levels.

But other things that affect our body composition can include the obesogenicity of the environment – which means how much is your personal environment, the area which you operate most of the time, really set up for activity and action or weight gain. Some aspects of the obesogenicity of the environment can include public transport, labour saving devices, the fact that we can swipe and have our shopping bought right into the kitchen – we don’t even have to walk up and down the aisles anymore! We now have Uber’s – cars driving around in circles waiting for one of us to swipe. That’s the obesogenicity of the environment.

Other things to consider are social factors; the sizes of things have gone up massively in the last 20-30 years. A soda gets bigger and bigger, we’ve grab packs and value bars – a chocolate bar you had 10 years ago, is going to look quite different from a chocolate bar you might buy today. It’s much bigger and is more calorific. We’re also into fast food – we don’t really care about provenance as much. All of that is going to really affect body composition.;

My takeaway message is to ignore calorie counting, but most of all, don’t go for the one size fits all approach. Make whatever you’re doing really personal to you to get better results, more sustainable results, and reduce some of that frustration you might have around energy, around blood sugar, and ultimately weight.

Leanne Spencer

This article first appeared in the May 2019 issue of SE22 magazine.