For a long time, people thought that dietary fat intake was what caused body fat stores; ‘eating too much fat is making me fat’. However, this is actually not true. You’ll find out very quickly that cutting back on dietary fat will make little difference to your weight or body fat percentage. When you begin to manipulate carbohydrates is when you will begin to notice the changes and thus the low-carb, low-fat diet was born. The fact is, your carbohydrates (dietary sugars and starches) are fattening, not fattening. Most low-carb diets eliminate fat almost completely, making it easier to manipulate for performance needs. However, taking in all the dietary fat for too long is not smart and the body will begin to manifest deficiencies that are noticeable with certain symptoms. These are joint pain, dry skin, and dandruff to name a few, but more serious problems can develop if all fat is removed from the diet for more than 6 months. This is why it’s smart to keep the small percentage of fat in your low-fat/low-carb diet to essential fat sources like avocados, certain seeds, and nuts. Supplements like fish and flax seed oil capsules are also a must to keep your diet healthy.
It should be noted that just as being overweight and having too much body fat is considered unhealthy, the process of losing weight (whether slow or fast) should be a healthy process. Diets that cause extremely rapid weight loss can often be very unhealthy (and sometimes dangerous) and should only be followed under certain conditions and under professional supervision. Losing weight at the expense of your health makes no sense. After an initial weight loss of 7 to 12 pounds in the first 3 weeks, losing 2 pounds per week is a healthy and very reasonable goal for all dieters. To do this, you must configure your program with some very important parameters. The first and most detrimental is the amount of dietary protein you should be consuming. This is calculated with a measurement of body fat percentage to determine lean body mass. There are many ways to measure your body fat percentage. Whether done by the trainer at your gym, a nutritionist, your doctor, or your spouse, this should be done so you can determine what your daily protein intake is required for your diet. This is the backbone of each and every weight loss diet and where you should start.
The amount of protein you eat daily will be a constant that will never change and all other components will revolve around this. To solve this, eat 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass and add 10. If weightlifting is also part of your nutrition program, then eat 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass plus 15-20 grams . For example, if your lean body mass is 150 pounds, you should eat between 160 and 170 grams of protein per day and this should not change regardless of your activity level or other dietary components. When establishing the amount of carbohydrates to eat in your diet, it is best to cycle your carbohydrates. While the entire program is considered a ‘low carb diet’, every day is somewhat low carb, however there will be some days with more carbs than others. When choosing the amount of carbohydrates to eat, determine this from your current body weight and not from your lean body mass measurement. For average/high carb days, multiply your current body weight by 0.9 and this will give you the number of grams of carbs you should be consuming for the day. For low carb days, multiply your body weight by .5. For example at 225 lbs. man will eat ~200 grams of carbs on an average day and ~100 grams on a low carb day.
The cycle of low and high carbohydrate days is extremely important for the continuation of weight loss. Do not do more than 2 or 3 days in a row on a low-carb diet. Doing so can throw off your metabolism and dramatically slow your weight loss. If you eat too few calories for too long, your body will think it’s starving and start holding on to everything it has, causing weight loss to stall. Schedule low carb days a week based on your training schedule or work schedule for best results. For example, if you lift weights on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, these are better days for higher carbohydrate intake so your muscles have glycogen to lift. For a schedule like this, pick Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays for low-carb days and focus on hard fat-burning cardio sessions. Keep in mind that low-carb days often make you feel sluggish and mentally slow, so they may not be timed better for the day of your big show.
In addition to alternating low and high carb days throughout the week, another very effective strategy is to stagger calories throughout the day. Weight loss will be faster and more efficient if you load your calories first by eating starches in the early part of the day and then switching to fibrous carbohydrates later. If you eat 5 meals a day, eat starchy carbohydrates for the first three and only fibrous carbohydrates for the last two. It is better to make the first three meals of the day the most caloric, then the last two should be smaller. This will fuel your day and since most of your activities end towards the evening, so should your caloric intake. Space your meals as evenly as possible throughout the day and try to have your last meal at least 4 hours or more before bedtime. Your weight loss will be better and faster if you starve yourself at night and familiarize yourself as soon as you wake up. If you’re not hungry at night, you’re eating too late and you’ll have trouble losing a lot of weight.
Carbohydrate options should be limited to clean natural starches and fibrous green vegetables. Some starchy vegetables, such as squash, can also be eaten, however they should be consumed no later than lunchtime. Pasta is processed and is not the best option. Oatmeal, brown rice, and sweet potatoes are great. If losing body fat is your goal, fruit is not a good choice for dieters. Fruit is a simple sugar and is burned before any fatty acids; this means that if you eat it, the body will choose it as an energy source before choosing body fat. However, the fruit is very refreshing, fat-free, natural, packed with vitamins, and does wonders for curbing your sweet tooth. If you choose to eat fruit, don’t eat it after lunchtime. This will give your body time to burn it off for the day. The best fruits to use are berries as they are very low in carbohydrates and low in calories and have wonderful antioxidant properties. Avoid any kind of dried fruit as they are nothing but candy when it comes to a fat loss diet.
Finally, give yourself a realistic time frame to lose weight. Choose a diet program for no more than 12 weeks at a time, with the goal of losing at least 2 pounds per week. If you have more than 30 pounds to lose, break it up into more than one program. Plan to have a cheat meal each week where you go off the diet and satisfy your cravings with a nice dinner somewhere. Let this be a reward for your hard work during the week. This is very important as it allows your mind a break from the routine of constant dieting and gives you something to look forward to. One high-calorie meal a week will also let your body know it’s not starving, so you’ll continue to lose weight while continuing to eat lower in calories. Cardio is also a must and should be done relentlessly if your goal is to lose body fat. Weightlifting is also very important for maintaining lean body mass and body shaping, however the cardio + diet is what will keep the scales moving in the right direction.