Thanks for joining us for part 2 of our brief Intro to Fat Loss series. As with the last one, I’m not going to be telling you exactly WHAT to eat. I’ll be explaining the science behind carbs, fat, and protein, and how to use that science to maximize your fat loss. Also like the last one, my solutions aren’t the ONLY way to lose fat. They’re just tried and true methods that I’ve used successfully, and I know you can too.
So how DO you eat to lose weight? You’ve probably heard this dismissive advice before – “Just eat less and work out more!” This is one of those pieces of advice that is completely correct, but also hugely impractical. How does this advice help you when you’ve already eaten your allotted calories for the day, and it’s only 3pm and you’re starving? You need the tools to know how to avoid getting to that point in the first place.
Let’s start with carbs. Eating carbs produces insulin in your body. That’s very necessary. The carbs have to be broken down into fuel for the body, which insulin does a very good job at. The dark side of this insulin response is that it triggers hunger. Even worse, if you’re eating at a caloric surplus, insulin triggers fat storage as well. Now, this is all a very basic version of the science. Carbs also provide glycogen to rebuild muscle, and they’re one of the more readily available sources of energy for our body. BUT, if you’re eating anything over the perfect amount of carbs, those calories are going to become fat.
The second thing to consider is that DIETARY FAT IS NOT, IN AND OF ITSELF, BAD FOR YOU! Everyone who lived through the 80’s and 90’s remembers the demonization of dietary fat. They said it caused heart disease, made you gain weight, gave you acne, etc. The list of the supposed harmful effects of fat seemed endless. Fortunately, science has caught up with reality. We learned that it wasn’t the meat and cheese from the burger that was killing us. It was the overall gluttonous and sedentary lifestyle generally correlated with burger eating. Heart disease turns out not to be caused by dietary cholesterol and fat, but by cholesterol in the blood and inflammation of the blood vessels. You have one guess as to what causes that. That’s right – excessive carbs.
It turns out that fat and protein are our friends on this fat burning quest. When you eat those, there’s no insulin response, because your fuel isn’t coming from sugar. Thus, there’s no pang of hunger coming too soon after you finish your meal. This is something you can test easily at home. Tomorrow for your breakfast, eat a carb heavy meal. Maybe it’s just toast and jam, or a bowl of rice krispies, or a serving of homefries. Then record the time when you first feel hungry. The next day, try eating eggs and bacon, or sausage, or an omelet for breakfast, Again, record when you first feel hungry. You should be able to go much longer without eating. Something to keep in mind here. Fat especially is more calorically dense than carbs. So 10g of fat will be more calories than 10 g of carbs. Don’t let that alarm you too much. You’ll find that as long as you’re not stuffing yourself at every meal, your body will naturally adjust to the calorie difference, and you’ll eat less as a result.
Eating fewer carbs and more fat/protein is the vey basic formula, but there are still times when hunger strikes. It’s good to have a few other little tricks up your sleeve to keep that willpower from waning. This is my usual routine for when the hunger pangs strike in the evening. First, try drinking a glass or two of water. Sometimes that’s enough to satisfy me. If not, I’ll eat about a spoonful of something fatty. Maybe peanut butter, or cheese, or a small piece of ham. If that doesn’t work, I’ll drink a glass of water mixed with sugar free soluble fiber. At that point I’m usually so full that I couldn’t think about eating anything else.
One last point I want to make is an often-overlooked one. If you’re serious about losing fat, you should make a decision right here and now to STOP DRINKING CALORIES!!! Sugary drinks, even alcoholic drinks, can singlehandedly sabatoge any diet. It’s way to easy to drink 200 calories a day without even realizing it. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but 200 cals a day over the course of a month adds up to over 2 lbs. EVERY MONTH! And don’t forget, every one of those sugary drinks also spikes your insulin, so you’ll be eating more afterwards as well. Try to stick to water, coffee, and tea if you can. Diet sodas if you HAVE TO. (Recent studies suggest that even fake sugar can cause an insulin spike in some, so be careful here.)
So in summary – avoid excess carbs, eat fat and protein to stay full for longer, don’t drink any calories, and get some sugar-free fiber to help keep you full and regular. If you follow these steps to a T for an entire month and don’t lose weight, you’re not following these steps to a T. It’s that simple.