Lose Fat Facts
Let's get the fat loss strategy straight. First of all, it's not about losing weight. It's about right-sizing your body. And part of that involves losing fat.
Some basic ideas, first:
Dieting. Why doesn't dieting work? Because it assumes there is something wrong with food (which is not true) and it takes a deprivation approach. When you eat correctly, you are taking a food enjoyment approach.
Low carb. This idea became very popular during the Atkins craze. It ignores large bodies of knowledge, and does not work. Counting carbs is equally absurd. Yes, people do "lose weight" on a low carb diet. But they fail to optimize their body composition. A person on a proper diet will eat actually have less body fat than a person on a low carb diet.
High protein. In general, you need a protein about the size of your palm for each meal. Maybe more, maybe less, depending on your muscularity and the intensity of your physical training. The typical gym rat probably does not need more. Excess protein must be stored as fat.
Low fat. Fat is not bad. In fact, you need fat to burn fat. And, you need fat for many critical functions in the body. Demonize fat, and you are going to be fatter, look worse, smell worse, and have lower intelligence. Unless you are running for a seat in Congress, don't go this route.
Low glycemic. People will swear off carrots, because they are highly glycemic. But the total calorie load is low. Very low.
For example, you have 60 carbs and they're highly glycemic. Real world impact is about zero. Meanwhile, eating 2200 calories at one sitting--even if it's all low carb or low-glycemic foods--means you are going to be fat. A person wanting a truly ripped physique needs to worry about the glycemic index. Most people do not.
If you get your carbs from whole fruits and vegetables, nature has already taken care of the glycemic problem for you. The exception is foods that have been bred for sweetness--such as sweet corn, pineapple, and bananas.
The real challenge
Your real challenge is to simply eat less. But that's not really a challenge. It's as easy as making it a rule that you have just one serving on a six-inch plate, rather than double helpings on 10-inch plates. Americans eat too much, typically by a factor of four!
Cut your meals to 25% of current size, and eat six of them a day. The fat will disappear as if by magic. Even if you eat the "wrong" foods.
Most people can't stick with this, because their stomachs are stretched from decades of overeating and they get hungry. The key here is to tough it out until your stomach can resize itself. Drinking tea, water, and coffee helps. Another trick is to have one "free day" a week. So, you know you're hungry but you know that on Saturday you're going to pig out. This allows you to tough it out for six days. Your net calorie intake for the week is way down, plus you've had some stomach shrinkage. Eventually, you won't need that "free day."
The actual foods will not make a huge difference for a woman until she is under 25% body fat.
Note that we are still talking about too fat, here--many men think they look great at 170lbs, but they are fooling themselves. With an average build, 170lbs is too fat. Way too fat. You would need to be very, very muscular (or have very large bones) to be lean at that height and weight.
Now, at 25% bodyfat, people will have a tough time "right sizing" based on portion control alone. A person eating nothing but junk to this point will simply have less muscularity, a lower metabolism, and a lower level of overall health.
As far as fat loss, the food selection is helpful but not critical when your caloric intake is way above where it should be. And you correct that caloric intake via portion control.
Many skinny people seem to live on chips and Coke. They have low fat levels because of low total calories. But they also have sallow complexions and low muscularity because of a poor diet. However, they are proof that you can eat whatever you want and not be fat--provided you don't eat much.
Most of us have no clue how much we actually eat, so we think we aren't eating much. The truth is very different, and that's why people are fat. Not because they are getting too many carbs, not enough protein, or too much fat. They are simply eating too much.
Easy vs. good vs. normal
Sometimes, people talk about "easy food" vs. "good food" or "normal food" vs. "health food." Let's put these ideas to rest right now.
"Easy food" vs. "good food" all starts with what you put into your shopping cart. If you make a simple rule to buy mostly in the produce section, buy beans (if dry, any beans are fine; if canned, plain beans only--and not kidney beans) regularly, and don't by any "prepared meals, sauces, mixes, etc., you have solved 80% of the food selection problem. After that, you can improve your buying--but most people would see miraculous results at this 80% point.
It's no harder to put quality food in your mouth your plate than it is to put junkfood there. In fact, in my home it's impossible to eat junkfood because there isn't any. Remember, it all starts at the grocery store.
What is "normal food?" Somewhere along the line, many people have gotten the idea that it's abnormal not to poison your mind and body with highly processed, nutrient-devoid, toxin-laden crap not fit for human consumption. And statistically, that is correct--normal, by definition, means it's what most people do. Therefore, it's not normal to eat with any degree of intelligence. But the negative connotation that comes with thinking of intelligent eating behavior as abnormal isn't appropriate.
Think of "normal" as what's normal for you. Forget about "what everyone else does." In fact, there are large numbers of people who eat intelligently and have the body to prove it. Think of "normal food" as food that is in an untoxified state. For example, most people eat far more hydrogenated oil that unhydrogenated. That doesn't mean oil that has been made toxic is better because it's "normal."
The bottom line in fat loss and right-sizing your body is this: take in fewer calories than you burn. There are two fundamental ways to accomplish this:
How can you make sure you succeed? Some experts advise keeping a food diary, in which you write down what you eat. But an even better approach is to write down an eating plan. Then, eat only what you planned to eat. This way, you can't possibly over eat. Just plan six small meals a day, prepare them ahead of time, and eat them at the pre-decided time. If you get hungry, just realize you won't starve--tough it out. Your next meal isn't far off.
Whom to believe
This information isn't some hack's opinion, and it's not the product of some nutrition-ignorant doctor with an ugly body. It's drawn from sources that are walking proof. These include professional body builders, nutritional researchers, elite trainers, and many other experts. Generally, if you read something on this site, it's been proven for several decades or longer.
If you "hang" with any elite athletes, you'll hear them saying essentially the same things. Those who don't know at least most of this stuff can't rise past the physical barriers to elite status. They are removing the same negatives that stand in the way of "right-sizing" your body. The principles are all the same, because our bodies function fundamentally all the same way.
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