Jan 5th, 2017
Top 5 Myths of Fat Loss
By, Mark Wine CSCS; USAW; NASM PT, PES, CES
- You Must Diet…
The new definition of the word “diet” is a dietary plan that limits the amount of food one consumes daily. However, this definition creates a platform for failure. This definition turns dieting into something that is started and stopped. In order to achieve a successful “diet” one must make modifications to their lifestyle. This includes perceiving healthier foods and beverages as regular foods, not diet foods; properly defining the word “diet”; educating oneself on the various types and groups of healthier foods; learning how to balance meals; and finally, learn how to stabilize blood sugar.
Step one; define the word “diet” correctly. A diet, by definition, is the food and beverages that are consumed on a daily basis. According to fad dieters, the definition of “a diet” is a reduction in calories and/or a limitation of select foods and beverages. Proper levels of fat loss depend on whether or not the phrase “being on a diet” can be properly defined to “my diet.”
Step two; educate yourself in order to develop a foundation of knowledge for healthy eating. Educated persons subconsciously make superior decisions on types of foods and drinks, as well as how to prepare the aforementioned. Some healthy options might be choosing whole grains versus enriched flour products; limiting sodium levels by avoiding added salt or condiments; spreading carbohydrate consumption over many meals versus a few meals; avoiding high amounts of sugar; learning to eat low glycemic foods; and various other healthy choices.
Step three, vary up your food and drink consumption. Eating the same foods over and over again is “a diet.” Instead, switch up your foods and beverages with other healthy foods and beverages. Variations is one of the simplest ways to burn fat and achieve superior nutritional benefits. However, it is imperative to have a few stable foods in your arsenal to fall back on daily; these should be classified as your “go to in times of need.” For example, choosing oatmeal for breakfast provides sustainable energy along with resistant starches; choosing low sodium lunch meat (turkey or chicken) saves money and unhealthy omega-6 fats; digesting dark mixed leafy greens adds vital nutrients and leads to enhanced health; and constantly drinking water throughout the day maintains proper bodily function and fat loss. Studies have shown that individuals who consume water regularly often have a lower body fat percentage than those who do not.
2) Eat less, not more… the most common mistake modern day dieters make is simple calorie restriction. They do this because calorie deficits result in weight loss. If you burn 2000 calories in a single day and eat less than 2000 calories in that same day, than you are in a caloric deficit. Sounds simple right? Well, not exactly.
Dieters who count calories try to remain in a constant caloric deficit. This often leads to eating two meals per day, sometimes even one. It can also lead to low quality calories (i.e. no nutritional value). Although this may result in weight loss, in the short run, it often results in lean muscle loss and an increase in body fat. The longer the body remains in extreme deficits weight loss will cease and weight gain will start.
The human body is meant to go through periods of starvation. Before modern times people used to have to work for their food; hunt, farm, fish, etc… Our bodies would go through long periods of starvation; the human body adapts to this and stores up any calories that are consumed. Every time your body is fed, regardless if it is once or twice per day, these fat stores are added to. In times of desperation the human body knows it must have sufficient energy to perform required tasks. The body calls on fat for energy (i.e. calories). Fat, regardless of where it is derived, has nine calories per gram and provides sustainable energy to be called on during times of starvation. Eating fewer meals results in increased fat storage because the body understands it needs to store these calories to be used as energy later on. In order to achieve optimal fat loss one must limit the size of their meals and eat more frequently. Frequent eating trains the body to utilize calories as they are consumed versus storing them as fat to be called on in times of starvation. This type of eating can drastically elevate ones metabolic rate by keeping the body in a constant state of fat burning.
Tip: eat 5-7 small meals per day. Space them out 2-3 hours apart. Choose low glycemic foods. Prepare your protein and fat in a healthy way; low heat; cooked in omega 3’s; and low sodium. Eat protein and fat in every meal. Increase your fresh vegetable intake. Choose nutrient dense dark leafy greens often.
3) Cardio is the best way to burn fat… myth. Cardio burns calories from the moment you start until the moment you’re finished. Lifting weights, on the other hand, increases caloric expenditure throughout the day. This results in reduced body fat and increased lean muscle. Individuals with higher levels of lean muscle have a higher resting metabolic rate, lower body fat percentages and higher daily caloric expenditure.
Lifting heavier weights with shorter rest times leads to nearly double the caloric expenditure than that of a typical cardio session. The best exercises to utilize are multi-joint complex movements; examples are deadlifts, squats, cleans, etc… These exercises drastically increase lean muscle levels while elevating caloric expenditure post-exercise. This extended elevation in caloric expenditure is known as post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). EPOC results in high amounts of calories burned for up to 72 hours.
Tip for you cardio-holics… perform High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to achieve higher levels of fat loss and lean muscle growth. HIIT means constant variation between sprints, resistance, pace, recovery and maximum exertion.
4) Zero Carbs for me… Nearly all persons who start zero carb diets “fall off” the diet and watch their bodyweight pile back on. Zero carb diets can be very dangerous. There are numerous long term side effects. One of the first side effects to show up is loose stool, diarrhea.
The human body is made up of two masses, lean mass and fat mass (water, bones, and others too). In order to achieve greater lean mass (muscle), while lowering fat mass, one must consume an adequate amount of carbohydrates or cycle between a low, moderate and high carb diet. The primary role of carbohydrates is to serve as an energy source for activities less than 3 minutes in duration; they are the primary source of energy for max exertion exercises. Carbohydrates serve as an ergogenic aid by increasing muscle glycogen, which allows for greater work output and lean muscle retention. If an individual’s carbohydrate levels are too low then work output will be lower and the body will pull energy from other sources.
Amino Acids are the fundamental building blocks of muscle and are one of the main energy sources called upon during low or zero carb diets. If you have an inadequate amount of amino acids in the body, especially the branched chain amino acid Leucine, then muscle loss and fat gain will result. Individuals on a low carb diet must consume an adequate amount of amino acids in the body to counter this effect.
Ketogenic diets, low carb diets, require less than 50 grams of carbs per day. The primary goals are to burn fat and lose weight. This diet can be successful for some and not for others. First, it generally works for persons with higher levels of body fat. Leaner individuals generally require higher carbohydrate intake. Second, the carb levels must be cycled. For example; an individual might eat sub 50 for three days but will then need to recover with a moderate to high carb count the fourth day and fifth day.
Lastly, select carbohydrates that are whole foods and low glycemic. These carbs will limit blood sugar fluctuation while keeping your body in fat burning mode. Low glycemic carbohydrates include sweet potatoes, whole grains, cherries, apples and legumes.
5) Fat Free… healthy fats (monounsaturated) derived from sources like olive oil or fish can help you lose weight while burning fat. Healthy fats have numerous hormonal and fat loss benefits. Monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to improved skin, fat loss, low LDL cholesterol levels, higher HDL cholesterol levels, optimal production of testosterone, hair health and numerous other health benefits. Whole foods that are not processed are the most nutritious sources and can provide various healthful benefits. To ingest healthy monounsaturated fats choose olive oil, avocados, etc…
Omega-3 fats, particularly from cold water marine source, are the best fat to maintain blood sugar and burn body fat. Western diets are high in omega-6 fats, which can lead to fat gain. To counter omega-6 consume 1 gram of omega-3 fat daily for every percent of body fat. For example; if you are 20% body fat you must consume 20 grams of omega-3 fats daily. To ingest omega-3 fatty acids choose foods like fish, salmon, wheat germ, walnuts, etc…
Saturated fats are not all bad and should be eaten. Limit your saturated fat intake to 20 grams daily (it varies based on individual characteristics). Choosing saturated fats from lean red meat, dairy, eggs, coconut, and various other sources can be advantageous. When cooking saturated fats you want to cook them over low heat so they are not rapidly oxidized and hardened.
- The Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (3rd edition).
By, National Strength and Conditioning Association
Editors: Thomas R. Baechle and Roger W. Earle
©2008, 2000, 1994