Unless I’m dealing with performance athletes my concern for the amount of fats and carbs within someone’s diet is fairly minimal.
My main concern nutritionally will always be around two numbers.
I glanced across at a bookshelf today when out and about and I saw a number of the best selling diet books. Majority of which:
Low carb and Low fat
Every one of them with a unique tag line as to why it was low ‘something’
The only thing a diet fundamentally needs to be is less calories and you lose weight (the stored kind).
Thing is, whatever we say these diets remain popular so there must be something right?
Firstly, any commercial diet will ultimately strive to create a calorie deficit. Without it, it fails.
Now this could be the ommitance of a food that the demographic it’s targeting typically overeats, could be a macronutrient or indeed a food or food group. It could be a novel way to reduce the amount of food they eat.
Ban sugar, people lose weight as they reduce calories
Ban carbs, same thing happens.
Ban bread, same thing happens
Ban fats, same thing happens.
Stop people eating breakfast.
Stop people eating after 6pm
Get people to fast.
You see the pattern and commonality.
They all reduce calories. You’re just being cleverly ‘sold’ the same solution in a different guise. People buy into it and think the reason they lost weight is one of the above.
You lowered calories comparative to the amount you expend.
Realistically most of these solutions don’t fit with everyday life and unless someone’s prepared never to eat something again they’re all short term things. They therefore then fail.
Why do I lose weight on low carb diets?
Low carb diets are largely popular because they cause almost an immediate drop in scale weight (that’s not fat). Let me explain. Carbohydrates get stored in muscle as their primary fuel source. Alongside that they shuttle a bunch of fluid in there too. Drop carbs, the primary fuel supply drops and fluid does, lowering body weight.
Take a car, if it has a 100 litre fuel tank, the weight of petrol is 0.74kg per litre. Don’t fuel the car up and it’s 74kg lighter. Get it?
What do you do when the cars low in fuel. You drive it slowly so you don’t run out. Body kinda works the same. It slows you down to preserve fuel. You economise.
You’re lighter on a scale but you burn less. It’s false economy.
Take that and the bad press ‘carbs’ and ‘sugars’ have, people who drop them pronounce their incredible short term weight loss and you can see where the unconfounded popularity came from.
It’s creates a following and people have been ‘duped’ to believe they’re getting lean from the low carbs and banning of sugar. When in fact you’re eating less and your fuel tanks are empty.
Fat, well that’s simple. They’re more dense in calories so when people drop them they eat less. It’s not the lack of fats but the reduction in calories that causes this. Add to that, that body fat and dietary fat are never really differentiated. People think ‘eat fat, get fat’ therefore assume the opposite occurs when you remove them.
Now this post will be futile for many of you.
Your ‘beliefs’ will remain stronger than being informed and science. Unfortunately in most cases facts falls short of ‘beliefs’ in human beings.
For those of you who are prepared to question what you’ve been led to believe (remember that when I say that, what you’ve done wasn’t wrong but the reason why you got the outcome you did was sold to you).
Focus on calories and protein intake.
For most people a protein intake around 1.2-1.8g/kg will suffice (assuming you train). Calories is a matter of seeing what causes weight loss and what doesn’t. A basic calculator will give you a good start point or a broken down log of your current diet an even better one. Consistent intake, consistent training and a good log of everything will typically tell you all you need to know.
If you’re losing steady weight you’ve got your intake right…
Part II I will explain why you shouldn’t be trying to lose weight too fast.