Not too long ago fat was seen as the enemy of fat loss.
People who wanted to lose body fat were advised to reduce their dietary fat intake if they wanted to see results. Dieters paid premium prices for foods that were labelled as, low-fat or fat-free. “Oil free this” and “fat-free that” were the default foods of the average dieter.
In the land of dieting, fat was the most hated macronutrient!
But things have changed in recent years. We no longer see fat as the enemy of fat loss because the goalpost has moved, and another macronutrient is taking the backlash. As a matter of fact, dieters are now being told to eat as much fat as they want – thanks to Ketogenic diet and low carbs diet.
Congratulations fat! The supreme court of dieting has declared you not guilty. The proclamation: “It’s not fat that makes us fat!”
You’re now the new B.A.E, fat! Let’s make a (bulletproof coffee) toast to your victory!
So many questions begging for answers
Why is it now okay to eat fat? Did the chemical structures of fat and carbohydrates change? Are carbs dangerous or we are just looking for another food to blame?
My objective is to tell you the whole truth about carbohydrates and their role in fat gain/fat loss.
Let’s dive in if you’re ready for the truth and nothing but the truth.
Carbs are not the enemy
As you will see in the texts that follow, I’m not an anti-ketogenic diet, neither am I a pro-high carb diet. But I’m against the demonisation of a food group because carbohydrates are not the enemy.
The real enemy is how and when we eat carbs. For instance, some of us can eat seven days worth of carbs in one day. Instead of seeing carbs as the enemy, we need to understand how our bodies react to the ingestion of carbohydrates and begin to feed in a way that will help us burn fat, and stay healthy. Because at the end of the day, that is what we want.
Your body on carbohydrates
Whether the carbohydrate is from yam, fruit, vegetable, or a bottle of coke, the final breakdown of all carbohydrates is glucose! But all carbohydrates don’t digest at the same rate, and they don’t interact with your body the same way.
Your body will not respond to a glass of orange juice the same way it will react to the whole orange fruit. Why? Fruit juices (homemade or bought) are made up of concentrated glucose (sugar), water, vitamins and mineral.
When you drink a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice, the digestive system doesn’t have to do much work to digest the macronutrient (fruit sugar in this case), the sugar will flood your bloodstream in about 15-20 minutes and raise your blood glucose level. That’s not necessarily bad because the human body in its wisdom knows how to take care of the excess glucose that is flowing through the bloodstream.
If quick energy is needed to power some activities, insulin will remove the excess glucose and escort it to the working muscles. But if you’re inactive after drinking the juice, and blood glucose level rises above what is normal, insulin will clear the excess glucose and store it in the muscles and liver as glycogen for later use (glycogen is the storage form of glucose).
Why limiting carbs intake result in quick weight loss
There is a limit to the amount of glycogen that can be stored in the liver and muscles. Therefore, if you continue with this pattern of eating more carbohydrates than your body can use for daily energy, there will be no space left in the liver and muscle to store the excess and your body will have to convert the surplus to fat and store it in fat cells (adipose tissue).
The bad news is that there is no limit to the amount of fat the body can store. Your body can create new fat cells when the need arises.
As mentioned earlier, the body will convert excess glucose to glycogen and store it the liver and muscle for later use. But this is where things get tricky: for every gramme of glycogen stored, the body adds 3 grammes of water. What that means is, when you eat excess carbs your body is going to retain a lot of water.
To release the water, you must use up the glycogen storage.
Let’s talk about water weight
Ever heard of losing water weight? That is the first thing that happens when you reduce your carbs intake; your body will lose water weight in the first 2-3 days of carbs reduction. That is why people see drastic weight loss in the first few days of carbs reduction or elimination.
Now the scale doesn’t know the difference between water weight and fat weight, all it sees is weight loss. But you want to lose more than water. You want to lose fat!
Four tips for fat loss
1. Reduce your carbs intake
Your body can only tap deep into its fat storage when there is no enough glucose to fuel your activity. If you continue to consume excess carbs, like many of us do, you will deny your body the opportunity to burn fat for energy.
You don’t have to eliminate starchy carbs and fruits from your diet as some people advocate, but you do need to pay attention to the how much carbs you consume on a daily basis.
2. Don’t remove to replace
One mistake I see a lot of people make is this: they remove one food only to replace it with another food. People reduce their starchy carbs intake and begin to eat nuts and fruits as if those have no calories. Fat loss happens when your food intake is less than your energy expenditure. It’s that simple!
Don’t remove to replace. It’s not just about what you eat, how much you eat matters too.
3. Embrace exercise
Many people go the “only dieting” route because they hate exercise. They can do anything to lose weight as long as exercise isn’t a requirement. The truth is, you don’t need exercise to lose weight – there are one thousand and one things you can do to lose weight. Exercise is just one of them. But if you want to lose weight without having a flabby skin, you must embrace fitness.
Exercise will not only prevent your skin from getting flabby, but it will also increase your metabolism.
Best exercises for fat loss
High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
High-intensity interval training alternates short bouts of high-intensity exercise periods (referred to as the work phase), with low-intensity exercise periods (referred to as the rest or recovery phase).
HIIT gives you a bulk for your time because your body continues to burn calorie (fat) hours after exercise has stopped.
Some women don’t want to lift weights because they think lifting weights will make them look bulky like men.
No, weight training doesn’t make a woman look bulky. Women usually don’t produce a high level of testosterone – a steroid hormone that is responsible for such increase in muscle mass in men.
Strength training increases muscle mass and decreases fat mass. The more muscle a person has, the more calories she can burn at rest. Why? At rest, a pound of fat uses between 2-3 calories per day, but a pound of muscle uses 7-10 calories per day.
Add strength training to your fitness routine. It’s the best way to lose fat without getting flabby.
4. Be constant. Be consistent
If fat loss is your goal, you can’t be playing on and off with your nutrition. At the end of the day, the diet plan that’ll work for you is the one you can sustain over a long time.
Your consistency is what will make the difference.