The difference between healthy eating and eating for weight loss
I am going to say something rather awful right now – you can have a very healthy diet and still not be losing body fat. In fact, I would say that up to 90% of my clients have a very healthy diet and yet still carry extra body fat. There are many reasons for this – metabolism; nutrient balance; meal timing and calorie loads just some of the reasons you may be making an acai berry smoothie each day and just not shedding the kg. So if you are both committed to healthy eating but also would not mind dropping a kg or two, here some of the other factors to consider.
What do you really eat?
It sounds so simple but once you write down exactly what goes into your mouth each day, you may find the answer as to why you are not losing body fat. You know the little extras I am talking about – the slice of cake at work; the office biscuits; a few lollies at night along with some dip and crackers before dinner – all common culprits that prevent fat loss. Write down everything that you put into your mouth for just a day or two and it will be easy to see where any extras are slipping in.
Are your nutrients balanced?
The less weight you have to lose, the more precise the balance needs to be in terms of the quantities of protein, carbohydrate and fat you are eating. A simple thing such as having too much carbohydrate in the morning or too little fat can prevent fat loss. The best way to identify your nutrient balance is to have nutrient analysis completed by a professional or download a monitoring APP such as ‘myfitnesspal’ which will calculate the amounts of macronutrients for you. Generally speaking a good balance for fat loss is ~40% energy form carbohydrate, ~30% from protein and ~30% from good fats. This regime will ensure that your variety of foods is not overly restrictive but is more sustainable than strict regimes such as Atkins (~10% carbohydrate, ~50% fat, ~30-40% protein.
Are you eating too few or too many carbs?
Completely cutting our carbohydrate rich foods such as bread, rice and pasta, can actually reduce your metabolism as your body is forced to break down muscle tissue to use as energy. A better option is to eat a balance of carbohydrates and proteins during the day and then keep them light at night. On the other end of the scale if you have cut right back on all carbs, and are reasonably active, chances are you are not eating enough. Even if you have a few kg to lose you will need a serve of carbs at both breakfast and lunch if your goal is fat loss.
What time do you eat?
The ability to burn fat depends on what different fuels the body has available to it. Within a mixed meal of carbohydrate, protein and fat, the body will always utilise the carbohydrate and proteins before it will the fat. This is merely an evolutionary adaptation for humans to store extra fat for times of famine. What this means in terms of fat loss, even if you eat a very low fat, nutritionally balanced diet, if you eat the bulk of your calories in the second half of the day you are unlikely to burn body fat simply because the body will spend its time digesting the carbohydrate and protein contents of your food and is unlikely to get to fat stores before you eat again the next day.
For this reason, a key step in fat loss is to shift your food intake forward, Aim for a carbohydrate protein breakfast, morning tea and lunch and then taper off the carbs sticking to meat and vegetables for dinner. Naturally, rewarding yourself with chocolates, biscuits or lollies late at night for all your hard work during the day is not a good idea as it is fuelling you up at night and likely to be preventing fat stores being broken down.