Part 3 of your complete Fat Loss Nutrition Guide is here!
Having covered energy balance (Calories) and Protein, we are taking things a step further and looking at Fats & Carbohydrates.
Firstly, a quick recap from parts 1 & 2:
- Calories DO matter. When it comes to dropping fat, the first port of call is to address our energy balance.
- Once we’ve got to grips with our Energy In Vs Energy Out we then need to look at our macronutrients.
- Protein is the most important macronutrient, it is essential for growth and repair, healthy skin, hair and muscle tissue.
- In relation to body composition, Protein will help look after our muscle tissue when we are in a calorie deficit. It’s also fairly satiating (it fills us up), meaning we can improve our adherence.
- Adherence is more important then the ‘optimal’ plan. Ultimately, we need to be able to stick to a calorie deficit for long enough to ensure we reach our goal. (note this approach doesn’t NEED to be sustainable, although we must consider how we will maintain any progress made to ensure we don’t end up back at square one)
So lets get into it!
I used an example in Part 2 for someone who has maintenance Calorie requirements of 2500Kcal, meaning for fat loss this person would require around 2125kcal – 2250kcal. (If you are unsure how we work all this out check out Part 1)
This person is 70kg, and using our 2g/kg approach for working out Protein requirements we arrive at, 140g Protein (140 x 4 = 560Kcal).
This means we have 1940Kcal to allocate between our Fats and Carbohydrate.
SO as always, boring bits first, what are they and what do they do?
Much like Protein, Fat is essential.
Our body NEEDS fat to function. Fats will positively effect:
- Immune System
- Nervous System
- Blood Pressure
- Insulin Sensitivity (see Carb Myth blog)
- Healthy Testosterone Levels (hormonal function)
- Improved Fat Oxidation
- Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated Fats are also linked to improved heart health.
- It’s Also Source Of Energy
Over the years Fat has received a bad reputation for the increased levels of Obesity and Obesity related health issues. This is however not the case. (See the Fat Myth blog)
Where possible we should look to get our fats from Polyunsaturated, Monounsaturated sources and some Saturated Fats too. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) have to come from our diets, the main ones you will of heard of would be Omega 3 and Omega 6.
The fat we should look to limit is Trans Fat. These are man made and have shown links to health issues that said a little bit in our diets is totally fine.
Although essential and very important Fat is also 9Kcal per gram. (you can now understand why the low fat diets had success, you just remove a tonne of Calories from your diet)
If we consume a too many then we can easily go over our Calorie allowance.
This has become fairly common place. Fat is now trendy.
For example, Coffee shops are jumping on the ‘Poached Eggs and Avocado Smash On Toast’ bandwagon, butter being added to magic overpriced coffee and Joe Wicks doing his hair with Coconut oil are all doing very little to help people understand exactly how to drop fat and keep it off.
As with everything people take things to extremes… we’ve gone from chronically low fat (not good from a health perspective) to super high fat (not good when there is no consideration for energy balance). We will get onto how much we NEED a bit later on.
Some examples of ‘good’ fat sources:
Nuts – e.g. Cashew Nuts (40g Serving)
Oily Fish – e.g. Salmon (100g Serving)
Oils – e.g. Coconut Oil (15g Serving)
Avocado – 1 Medium
Dark Chocolate – e.g. Lindt 85% (40g Serving)
Yet another area of basic nutrition that people are stressing over these days without fully understanding what role carbohydrates play and how best to utilise them.
Carbohydrate isn’t essential like Proteins and Fats. This means if we CAN live without them, our body has the ability to convert Fats and Protein into glucose for energy. In response to low blood glucose levels, Glucagon is released. This then stimulates the liver to break down stored Glycogen for use and also triggers the body to break down amino acids (Protein / Muscle) and stored fat and convert these to glucose too. This process is called Gluconeogenesis (Fancy I know).
“Right, its not essential, lets sack it off then”, hold on one minute!
So the low carb zealots will say that Carbs are the devil! However, they can and should form part of your fat loss nutrition and here is why:
- Carbohydrate is our bodies primary source of fuel. With the presence of carbohydrate you will able to train a lot more effectively. You will feel stronger, be able to achieve more reps and keep intensity high. When you are in a Calorie deficit, energy levels may not be top draw, making sure your training doesn’t suffer is critical and will help you enjoy the process a little more.
- Carbohydrates are protein sparing, meaning they help the body hold onto the muscle it has, ensuring we don’t need to break it down to use it for fuel.
- Many great tasting foods have carbohydrates in them, learning how to include foods you enjoy will help you adhere to the process long enough to see you to your goal and maintain a healthy social life. Making the chances of you keeping the weight off higher. (can you really not have pizza, bread, potato, noodles, rice, chocolate, beer etc ever again?)
What about Insulin, I’ve heard someone who sounds clever talk about it? Check out the carb myth blog of more on this.
Again, Carbohydrates (like fat and protein) have a caloric value.
They are 4Kcal/g, so yet again when people go low carb, they remove a tonne of Calories.
Sources of Carbohydrate:
Fruit – e.g. Banana (1 average banana)
Starchy Vegetables – e.g. Sweet Potato (Medium 200g Potato)
Fibrous Vegetables – e.g. Broccoli (100g Serving)
35kcal (can see why getting plenty of these in is a good idea)
*Fibre is also important (for another blog… just eat plenty of veggies)
Grains – e.g. Oats (50g Serving)
So how much do we NEED?
A good way to look at this, is as a percentage of our daily intake.
From a health perspective 20%-40% is where you would ideally fall.
So, to make things easier aim for 30% as a start point.
Using our example above, 30% of the 2250Kcal required is 675Kcal.
We know that fat is 9kcal/gram so 675 divided by 9 = 75.
So 75 grams of Fat.
Other methods may say 1g/kg, thats 70 grams
0.5g/lb, thats 77 grams.
The difference is minimal and not worth stressing about. (you may wish to have higher or a little lower depending on your food preferences anyway)
Just pick one a stick with it… remember Calories are the most important thing.
This bit is now fairly easy as we’ve a certain amount of Calories left over.
We just need to divide them by 4 (Carbs are 4Kcal/gram remember)
So we have our 2250Kcal
We have Protein set a 2g/kg so 70 x 2 = 140 (560kcal)
We have fat set at 30% of total Calories so 675kcal divided by 9 = 75g
This leaves 1015kcal, meaning 254g of Carbohydrates.
So if you prefer to choose higher fat, you have less Calories for carbohydrate its that simple.
Now you have some figures to use in an App like My Fitness Pal.
Click the image to go the My Fitness Pal website.
A few side notes:
- Energy balance isn’t an exact prediction of fat loss / gain. Although it is still our biggest tool when used consistently over time. (you can use this to your advantage, but thats for another blog)
- Energy balance should be considered over a week, so if you go over one day don’t panic, bring it back down the next day or two.
- Be patient, weight creeps on as over time our net intake of energy exceeds our requirements. Expect the same in reverse (1lb-2lb a week is great progress, this won’t always be linear either and understand that bodyweight fluctuates daily. be sure to use other methods alongside bodyweight such as inches, clothes sizes, pictures, body fat readings, the mirror etc)
- Tracking your food isn’t essential for fat loss, although a short period of time doing so can really help you when guesstimating your food intake and for maintaining your progress.
- Dont aim for perfection, the 80-20 rule is pretty apt. If 80% of your food is coming from whole, single ingredient foods such as animal proteins, essential fats, and lots of veggies then we can include foods that we really enjoy that may not be considered ‘healthy’. If this means you are more likely to stick to the numbers then its certainly the way to go.
- Although a great tool, apps like My Fitness Pal aren’t without their flaws, they will have inaccuracies that as you learn and progress you will be able to spot. (We will look into how to use these tools properly in the next blog of this series. For now, play with app, get your numbers worked out make some changes.)
Hopefully you are now building up a basic understanding how this fat loss game works.
I can’t stress enough, how valuable this information is.
Yes, it can be frustrating and feel complicated but its worth learning if you finally want to ditch the yo yo, on it off it approach.
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