Miss Bikini Fitness 2017 title holder Naomi McGowan has some serious experience with dieting, training for fat loss and physique transformation. Here, personal trainer and fitness instructor Naomi answers your questions about fat burning, low carb programmes and training before breakfast.
What is the most challenging aspect of dieting and losing body fat?
Patience. We want results immediately, but long lasting, genuine results don’t happen overnight. Eating better and being more active takes time, and if you persevere, you will achieve what you thought was impossible.
Does going low carb work for those aiming to lose body fat?
Cutting carbs to lose body fat has become widely misunderstood. Carbs are an important part of our diet, they are our main source of energy. If you want to lose weight, initially the only thing you need to do to create a calorie deficit is to increase your activity levels and slowly reduce the amount you consume. This includes a balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates. Low carb diets do have their place, particularly in individuals who are already lean, for example fitness competitors. For the majority, the carbs are in.
Does training before breakfast help burn fat?
I personally get good results from training in a fasted state, it helps mobilize fat loss. However, for most people it’s not necessary to train fasted. As long as you get your workouts in and remain in a deficit throughout the day, you will get results.
If you are going to do fasted training, I would recommend 20, 30 or 40 minutes of cardio. Leave weight training until you have eaten to ensure you have the energy to achieve optimal results from your workout. Fasted cardio is deemed catabolic – you may lose some muscle, but you can minimise this effect by refuelling with protein after your fasted session.
What do you think about intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting can be effective for many individuals, but so is eating 3 or 5 meals throughout the day, so it depends… What is the most sustainable method for you?
If you are fasting until lunch, then you consume all your calories between lunch and bedtime, rather than spread out throughout the entire day, it allows you to have bigger meals without compromising your calorie deficit. Personally, I like to eat regularly so intermittent fasting is not for me, but I know people who have benefitted from it.
What challenges do you often come across when helping clients get fit and lose weight?
There is a lot of conflicting advice out there and some of it has been over complicated. Ultimately, the simple advice is to exercise more and eat a little less. In my experience, people don’t think enough about what they are doing so I would encourage you to be mindful about what you eat. Ask yourself: Is there a healthier option? Do I really need this? If you really want something, then enjoy it as a treat. Instead of eating quickly, without any thought, accept that you have a choice. Decide what you want to achieve and make it happen. Being more mindful of ourselves and the food we eat helps us to make healthier choices.
Finally, a quick step-by-step summary of your basic guidelines?
To get you started on your journey, first of all, drink lots of water, eat plenty of vegetables and have protein with each meal (chicken, beef, fish or pulses). Have a handful of carbs such as rice or potato, and a small handful of fats like almonds, avocado and so on. And of course, increase your activity levels.
If you would like some help with weight loss, toning up, improving general fitness and wellbeing, or with changing your body composition, please get in touch, I would love to help you!
Naomi Charles-Thompson (nee McGowan) is a personal trainer specialising in weight loss and physique changes.
Tel: 07946 359 777
Founder and editor of FitNet.
Previously gymnastics coach, massage therapist and personal trainer with 20 years of experience. Former gymnast and dancer.