If you have been trying to shed the pounds it is likely that you have been through many of the commercial options available, you may be doing well with them “according to the scales” or it does not produce the results you want it to.
Fad diets are great, as far as being part of a group with the same ambitions are concerned and getting a nice shiny certificate at the end of the week stating that you have lost x number of pounds. This feels rewarding in the short term but these “quick fixes” are, at best, unhealthy and do not take physical activity into account, which affects many other contributing factors our body requires to be healthy and prevent conditions. They mislead you into to thinking that “this is the one that will work for me” but I urge you not to be fooled by this because every single person is different, and their energy/caloric output is peculiar to them therefore why should your diet be the same as everyone else’s?
Sure, one of these diets will help you lose weight, as far as the scales are concerned, but what kind of weight are you losing? Usually water weight but if the calorie intake is significantly lower than that which your body needs, this encourages your body to then start eating into your muscle stores which is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
Research suggests that 90% of people who diet with exercise will keep the weight off for a year or more rather than piling back on the pounds.
For more on this, have a look at this article on training for fat loss
There are also many common misconceptions when it comes to dieting.
No Carbohydrates = Lose weight
This is true in the sense that you will lose “scale weight” or total body weight because carbohydrates (primarily) are converted into glucose and is then converted into glycogen which is the stored form of fuel within the muscle tissue which also carry fluid, it is this that you will be losing rather than body “Fat” which is what you want to be achieving.
Therefore, low carbohydrate diets show to influence large amounts of weight loss, just not necessarily the right kind (Fat) of weight.
The fact of the matter is that the body needs Carbohydrates to convert them into energy to use at rest for our daily functions, notwithstanding exercise i.e. breathing, blood flow, internal organ functions and general moving around to name but a few, all of which are of necessity. Macronutrients are our source of fuel! Why cut one of them out?
As for the common myth of avoiding carbs in the evening, read this article for more on that.
So how do I lose weight healthily?
The answer to this is to create a calorie deficit! You know how to calculate your BMR and further to that you’re TDEE. When you have done this, create a deficit of calories.
If we, for generic purposes, say that 1 pound of Fat equals to 3500 calories then creating 500 calorie (per day) deficit over the course of the week would elicit 3500 calories which in turn equates to 1 pound of Fat.
For Example: – If John was going to be consistently moderately active with a TDEE of 2728 calories per day he could put himself in a deficit of 500 calories (per day) equalling 2228 calories (Per day) or 15596 calories (per week) and would lose 1 pound of “Fat” per week.
With this deficit John will now be in a state of catabolism (break down) and would therefore lose one pound (Fat) per week, and he would still manage to eat foods that he enjoyed while losing weight.
This level of deficit is considered, healthy weight loss and sustainable.
Points to note
- 3500 calories don’t necessarily equal to 1 pound of fat, due to the variables of everyone’s body and its peculiarity i.e. oxygen consumption. Solid figures such as these are good for a base line but are not exact because, again, everyone functions differently, at different levels and their body makes involuntary adjustments as to how it responds to diets, training etc. For the purposes of this, these figures will establish a base line to work from.
- If the deficit is too great e.g. John dropping to 1000 calories, then it is potentially detrimental because the body starts to breakdown predominantly “Proteins” rather than “Fat” which is where muscle mass is procured and not what you want.
Total bodyweight loss will be slower with a smaller deficit however you will breakdown a higher “Fat” percentage than if your deficit was too big. Hormones largely have a part to play in this, see below (Hormonal Effects).
The choice is yours as to whether you want to take the fast route which ultimately you will “Fail” at because it is not ‘sustainable’ or the slow healthy route which is sustainable and ensures success.
For more on the low calories to lose weight myth, click here.
And if you’d like to know more on the idea of how to lose weight fast, go here.
Typically, people who want to gain “lean muscle mass” (Body builders) will want to put weight on through intake of a large number of calories (predominantly proteins). That said, when your intake involves a large amount of proteins a large amount of Fats will go hand in hand with this. Ensuring a healthy balanced relationship between Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins when you’re on a weight gaining diet is key!
To gain weight, energy input needs to be higher therefore a calorie surplus (more) needs to be implemented, however, yet again it is the right kind of weight that we want to gain (lean muscle) rather than fat.
To gain lean muscle mass the muscle tissue needs to be torn down to a level where the same number of calories, in the excess, is required to fully rebuild the muscle, as much as your body will allow. The way in which this is primarily done is through heavy resistance (weight training) being place on the muscle or groups of muscles to break them down. The excess calories, in this case the focus being proteins, would elicit protein synthesis to build the muscle back bigger and stronger.
For Example: – If John was going to be consistently moderately active with a TDEE of 2728 calories per day he could put himself in a surplus of 350 calories (per day) equalling 3078 calories (Per day) or 21,546 calories (per week, protein dominant) and, through the correct type of training would gain “Muscle”. Hormones also have a major role to play in gaining lean muscle (see below)
This again, for the purposes of this is establishing a baseline to work from because as we have learned everyone is different.
With this surplus John will now be in a state of Anabolism (Growth) and would therefore “gain”.