The skinny on fat loss

This section is appropriately titled fat loss, since this is at the whole point of any diet/exercise regimen geared to a smaller waist size. I emphasize ‘fat loss’ over ‘weight loss’ since weight loss can be as a result of water loss during exercise/ taking a wiz couple times a day and then weighing yourself with an empty bladder (or some other such activity that has nothing to do with fat loss and good health). Whether for cosmetic or health reasons the process is the same. We’ve all heard that as we age it becomes more and more difficult to lose weight (fat) especially after 30 due to a declining metabolism. Basically, Calories consumed > Calories burnt = fat gain (1)  and to lose fat, Calories consumed < Calories burnt = fat loss (2) . Yet this is not so simple to achieve as some people claim. You can try:

 

  1. Diet and counting calories. So we are trying to achieve (2). In so doing we follow the latest celebrity diet however ridiculous, place stringent restrictions on what we can and can’t eat and have no energy whatsoever. No one ever maintains these diets in the long run, it definitely is no fun (Eat/drink some crap and get thinner diet) and 5 minutes later you’re as hungry as a carnivore in the veggie aisle.

 

  1. Exercise for hours. Well this might work. Really? You could go to the gym or somewhere else (Biking, running outside…) to get your sweat on. But you have to potentially do hours of activity to burn of a few hundred calories. All that effort and you’re so hungry afterwards that you eat twice what you burnt off in calories. Screwed!

 

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Exercise and Diet. Well it seems logical, especially if you do a combo of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and eat the right kind of calories. To stave off hunger and lose fat, eat a high protein, low carb and low fat diet. The logic is  HIIT activity doesn’t have to be lengthy (talking about minutes of intense burst of activity followed by rest…) to get rid of those calories. Plus you continue to burn some calories long after the activity is over (hours or even days later), but albeit, not as much as you might think. Same with bodybuilding/weight lifting. Building muscle also increases metabolism since it takes more calories to repair and maintain muscle than it does to maintain fat (We’ll find out exactly how much in a later post).  Now combined with the right diet…aforementioned low carbs, low fat and high protein (and calorie counting), everything should be fine.
The body burns carbs first then fat. Therefore low carbs means, you use body fat first and proteins last as fuel. Sure, for lots of people this works. Okay, but calorie counting is tiresome and I still feel hungry. Well, do you necessarily have to have a low fat diet to keep the fat off? Couldn’t I eat more fats and proteins to stave off the hunger (especially fats…mmmm)? You just might be able to. We need to get into how we store fats. What is the underlying cause of fat storage?……

 

INSULIN…

Maybe. I know it’s in bold, but there is some controversy about this. Some people think that insulin is at the heart of it all. At least according to Gary Taubes of Good Calories, Bad Calories fame amongst others. But for now Taubes seems to be the most vocal. The assertion is that fats in our diets do not make us fatter. It is the carbohydrates that we eat. Carbs trigger a strong insulin response which causes them to be broken down and stored as fats. Fats themselves and proteins do not trigger such a response (or at least to a much lesser extent). The suggestion seems to be, stop worrying about calorie counting, fat intake from food and strenuous exercise. Instead control your carb intake if you want to lose fat. In general avoid foods that will cause an insulin spike.

Now, off course, take it with a grain of salt. Don’t expect to eat 10,000 calories worth of fat and still be healthy (especially trans and saturated fats…more on this later). But it seems that lowering simple carbs (never said to eliminate) in addition to some moderate exercise, to burn already stored fat, would make the most sense. Plus, physical activity has other benefits other than burning fat (another post).  All of this information has been simplified and more detailed information about Gary Taubes and his thoughts can be found here and this Readers Digest interview. In addition, this information is still being debated and some counter points can be found on the weightology website. It seems logical that we would want to also consume foods that regulate insulin production( but for other reasons). We will look at this more thoroughly at a later date.

 

Confused yet? This is the problem. So much contradictory evidence or at least arguments. But so far, the healthiest eating habit seems to be low simple carbs and sugars, moderate fat intake (fats actually make you feel satiated) and calorie restriction. All of this coupled with exercise will lead to overall fitness and health. So, don’t throw out the fats just yet. Look around the website to gain some insight into all of this madness and find out how to really be healthy. You’ll find info on weight loss, diets, exercises and learn about the myths in health and fitness.

 

In the mean time tell us about your weight loss experiences. Remember one size does not fit all and something you post might be of help to someone else.

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