Eating to Lose Fat
By Alyssa Graham
We all know that when it comes to losing weight, we can think in terms of calories in versus calories out. When we expend more calories in a day than we put into our bodies, that results in a calorie deficit. Reduction of caloric intake combined with high-energy expenditures (CrossFit!) will, in a perfect world, result in weight loss. So what about fat loss, specifically?
Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to losing body fat:
- A pound of fat equals roughly 3,500 calories
- A pound of muscle equals roughly 600 calories
- People with a higher percentage of body fat will lose more fat and retain more muscle when they have a significant calorie deficit
- People with a lower percentage of body fat will lose more muscle and retain more fat with a significant calorie deficit
For example, a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day for one week could result in one of two outcomes:
- A loss of one pound of fat (3,500/3,500 cal = 1) OR
- A loss of nearly six pounds of muscle (3,500/600 cal = 5.8) …yikes!
For obvious reasons, a loss of muscle mass is not desirable…less hitting crazy-awesome heavy lifts (YAY!), and more frustration and frowny-faces after failing a third attempt at a PR (aw, man!). This is why it’s important to monitor your calorie deficit based on your existing body fat percentage and activity level. Those with a higher percent of body fat can probably get away with a larger deficit in the early stages of beginning a new diet or starting a new fitness regimen. However, as one’s body begins to adjust and that body fat number continues to decrease, the body becomes leaner, and that deficit will need to be reevaluated to maintain a desired amount of lean muscle tissue.
This explains why it’s very difficult to shed those few extra pounds to get that “RIPPED!” look we all want so badly.
Here are a few helpful tips for eating for successful fat loss and better health:
- Stop with the sugar. For real, guys. Foods that contain high amounts of sugar force your body to release more insulin, which promotes a quick storage of sugar in the muscles and the liver. It also inhibits the regulatory hormone glucagon, which is responsible for telling the body to burn stored fat. People that are significantly overweight are “sugar burners,” meaning their bodies mainly burn stored glucagon. Each subsequent meal restores that glucagon, especially if they consume a high glycemic meal, and the cycle continues, resulting in the fat stores never having the chance to be burned. This inordinate insulin response also causes blood sugar levels to fall quickly, leaving you feeling more hungry, quicker. The body suddenly recognizes that it needs fuel, but since the glucagon is still in short supply, the body doesn’t even begin to tap into the fat stores. The result? Hunger. And consuming a surplus of calories on a consistent basis results in weight gain over time.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners. A study published by the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health found that consuming splenda (sucralose) negatively impacted gut flora and significantly reduced the amount of good bacteria in the GI tract, and alters pH.
- Give up the gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat and wheat products– bread, pasta, bagels, etc. It promotes inflammation in the body, irritates the digestive system, and can cause auto-immune disorders.
- Avoid legumes and grains. Grains are also pro-inflammatory and contain phytates and lectins. Phytates bind to good minerals in the body and cause deficiencies. Lectins are a type of protein that are known to cause GI distress and negatively impact the immune system.
- Eat the highest quality protein you can afford. Grass-fed is preferred over grain-fed or conventionally raised.
- Eats lots of veggies. Seriously. Lots. To lose fat, limit starchy plants, such as sweet potatoes, yams, and plantains.
- Avoid highly processed foods. Think cookies, crackers, anything that comes in a box and is (unfortunately) delicious. These foods contain high levels of refined sugars, are high glycemic foods, and create that inordinate insulin response in the body.
- Don’t be afraid of fruit. 🙂 Fruit does contain the simple sugar fructose, however, fructose has a slower rate of digestion and absorption than refined sugars, and thus result in a lower glycemic response. Plus, you don’t want to miss out on all those nutrients!
- Do the majority of your grocery shopping around the perimeter of the store. That’s where you’ll find the veggies, fruit, meat–if you’re into that ;), REAL FOOD. The inner aisles are stocked with bags and boxes of food imposters.
- Eat as much whole foods as you can. We want to consume the overwhelming majority of our food in it’s most natural form. Again, if it comes in a bag or a box, stamped with seals of approvals and health claims (This box of cereal has 37g of sugar, but it’s still considered to be “heart healthy?” WOW! Let’s buy two!), it is not REAL FOOD, and therefore, we should not eat it.
That being said, try and keep these 10 tips in mind next time you’re at the store getting groceries for the week. Cutting too much healthy fat out of your diet can actually result in plateaued performance and a number of health risks. As with any nutritional or dietary goal, it’s all about finding a healthy balance and listening to how your body is responding and adapting to changes. If you focus on fueling your body with healthy, nutritional foods that are low in sugar, minimally processed, and high in all the important nutrients your body needs, you will not only perform better, but you will FEEL better as well!
Don’t want to tackle this on your own? Would you like help getting your nutrition nailed down? We can help! Start by scheduling your Free Consultation below.
Interested in getting started or learning more? Click the link below to Schedule a Free 20min ” No sweat Intro” we’ll sit down talk about your goals, you’ll learn more about what we have to offer here at CFIO, and how we can help!