As a nutritional advisor, I have read, heard and tried many different ways to help me lose body fat. I am a former competitive natural bodybuilder. This required me to become very lean, getting my body fat down in the region of 3%.
There is a lot of information available on the theory of fat loss. There is some very good information and some very out dated and bad information. It has taken me a while to write this article, as I wanted to really research this area and give you the best information from the best trainers, coaches, nutritionists and doctors in the industry.
As you can see, I am talking about fat loss, not weight loss. Weight has always been the norm to see results when exercising and dieting. I would rather you do circumference measurements and look at clothes size, as these are better indicators of fat loss.
This way of eating is not just a way of losing bodyfat, it is a way to becoming healthier at the same time. It can help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular health problems, cancers and diabetes, along with many other degenerative diseases. This is not a quick fix diet; it requires a change in mentality that you are going to eat like this for life. I want you to lose excess body fat and keep it off and in the process become healthier.
The healthy for life eating programme
Eat five to six times a day
The nutrition plan is based on eating 5-6 times a day. Nutritionists have implemented this for a while now. Mike Roussell has this as one of his 6 Pillars of Nutrition. By eating 5-6 smaller meals a day, you will fuel the body with only what it requires over the next few hours, supplying your body with a constant supply of high quality nutrients. By having multiple meals throughout the day, you are able to control insulin and blood sugar levels, which is really important for fat loss and overall health. By doing this, you are able to keep your body sensitive to insulin, which can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Cut down on sugary foods
When trying to lose bodyfat, you really want to try and cut out sugary and processed foods. Processed foods, such as cereals, crisps, biscuits etc tend to be high in sugars, unhealthy fats and also have large amounts of salt in them.
By cutting these foods out, not only will they help in the process of fat loss, you will also become healthier. Foods like these push up your blood sugar levels and can make you become insulin resistant over time, which can then develop into type 2 diabetes. By cutting these types of foods out, you will have to eat more fruit and vegetables.
Eat more fruit and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables should make up the cornerstone of our diet. Fruits and vegetables are packed with higher amounts of nutrients, such as antioxidants, vitamins and minerals (1). Fruits and vegetables are greater in volume, which have a fulfilling effect, yet they are relatively low in calories. We have stretch receptors in our stomach, which sends signals to the brain and tells us we are full up. Match this to other foods, such as a pizza; you would have to eat a massive amount of fruit and vegetables in one sitting to match the same calorie intake as that of the pizza, and yet it is quite easy to eat a large pizza to ones self. So you can actually eat a higher volume of food and still lose body fat.
Fruit and vegetables are also lower on the glycemic index and they have less impact on your blood sugar levels compared to foods such as starches, grains, potatoes and rice’s. How much should we aim for? Aim for 9-13 portions a day. Too much? Make smoothies and soups, these are great ways to get your fruit and vegetable quota for the day.
Drink plenty of water
Water can really help in the process of losing body fat. Water helps transport toxins out of the bodies cells and supply the body with fresh nutrients, minerals etc (1). Drinking water can have a fulfilling effect on the body. When people feel hungry, they can mistake it for being thirsty. Drinking water can alleviate this.
People tend to reach though for a sugary drink, high in calories when they are thirsty. This is such an easy, but bad way of consuming calories and can have a massive effect on increasing total fat mass. Really try and prevent drinking calories. If you have beverages such as tea and coffee, refrain from adding in sugar, milk and cream. This can boost total calories and negate the benefits these drinks can have.
Fill up on protein based foods
The next most important food to be eating is lean protein throughout the day. You can get this from foods like chicken, lean beef and fish. Try and replace carbohydrates with protein-based foods.
By increasing your protein intake, you will lower your insulin response, which in turn helps you keep body fat off (2). Protein is harder to breakdown in the body than both carbohydrates and fats (2). This means that our body has to work harder, which requires more energy, and we get this energy from stored body fat (4).
Leave starchy carbohydrates to the morning
Really try and keep starchy carbohydrates, such as oats and rice to breakfast or earlier in the day. In the morning the body’s liver and muscle sugar levels are lower and the body is better at handling starchy carbohydrates as it has improved insulin sensitivity earlier in the day. As the day goes on, reduce the amount of starchy foods and eat more protein based foods, fruits, vegetables and food that have healthy fats in them.
Fat can be healthy and beneficial too
Like carbohydrates, there are also different types of fats, unhealthy, such as trans fatty acids, which can be found in processed foods and healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds and fish. Healthy fats are a great benefit to the body (1). Try and steer clear of fats that are solid at room temperature e.g. butter and lard. Margarine is not a good alternative to these either as it is full of trans fatty acids to help it stay solid at room temperature.
Omega 3, which can be found in oily fish, linseeds and walnuts, has been clinically proven to help reduce the risk of developing heart disease and also improves brain function. A Monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil has been shown to help the body breakdown stored body fat. Fat is a very important aspect of a healthy lifestyle and helping reduce body fat.
The information above is no magic pill that will help lose body fat in an instance. By following the guidelines above not only will you lose body fat, you will also feel healthier and have a lot more energy. This is no special diet, this is just healthy eating and the benefits you can get from following an eating pattern of 5-6 meals a day full of fruits, vegetables, lean cuts of meat, fish and avoiding starchy carbohydrates later in the day will leave you looking better and feeling better.
1. Beachle, T.R., and Earle, R.W. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, 3rd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. 2008
2. High Protein Intake Enhances Protein Synthesis During Low-Carbohydrate Diets: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 90: 5175-5181. 2005
3. MacWilliam, L. Nutrisearch Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements. 4th ed. Northern Dimensions. 2007
4. Moderate Protein Diet Helps Sustain Weight Loss: Journal of Nutrition. 139: 514-521. 2009