Diet Mistakes People Make
I assume since your reading this article you may be carrying a little excess fat you would like to say goodbye to. You’re not alone - there are many people who wish they were smaller and leaner. In theory losing weight is simple, we need to create a calorific deficit which means burn off more calories than we take in, however losing weight and losing fat are two very different things and can easily get mixed up.
The majority of people are impatient and want to lose weight fast. Since they have little or no knowledge of diet, nutrition and how metabolism works, they think that by starving themselves, or eating as little as possible will make them lose fat quickly and give them the body they desire.
While this attitude will result in a quick weight drop, most of the weight lost will be water, muscle and a small portion of fat. I’ll explain this in a little more detail.
When we eat food in the form of carbohydrates, our bodies will either do one of three things in this particular order :-
- Burn off the carbohydrates immediately for energy
- Replenish glycogen stores in the liver and muscle tissue
- Convert the carbohydrate into fat and store for later use
*This is a very simplistic view.
If we restrict carbohydrate intake, our body begins to use its own supply of stored carbohydrate (glycogen) and convert it into glucose for energy, therefore our glycogen stores begin to decrease. For every 1g of glycogen burned off, 3g of water is lost. I won’t say how much glycogen is stored in our liver and muscles since this is individual and varies, however I will say that this can result in a steep drop in weight rather quickly.
Next point to consider is the breakdown of muscle tissue. There are 9 essential amino acids which our body can’t synthesize so they must be sourced through diet. In order for muscle maintenance and tissue turnover to take place, amino acids must be present otherwise muscle breakdown will occur. Since carbohydrate stores are low the body converts amino acids into glucose via gluconeogenesis which takes place in the liver. This will also result in loss of lean body mass.
Here is where the vicious cycle begins. Since muscle burns more calories and to some extent controls the speed of your metabolism, as your muscle mass decreases, your calorie needs also decrease and your metabolism slows down. After just a few days of heavily restricted calorie intake, our body goes into starvation mode in order to survive which means it holds on to its fuel supplies (fat) for dear life.
Losing fat safely and maintaining muscle
Diet is the most important factor in losing excess unwanted fat. In order for our body to let go of stubborn fat stores it must be given the right nutrients at the right time.
Following these simple steps will help you to build yourself a healthier diet and lose fat.
- Try to eat between 6 – 8 small meals per day. This will speed up our metabolism
- Limit carbohydrate intake to fibre and wholegrain sources except for simple carbohydrates around workout times
- Eat protein with each meal. Since protein takes more calories to break down this will result in an increased metabolic rate and prevent the breakdown of lean body mass
- Try to get a varied intake of proteins to avoid lack of certain amino acids
- Try to get a healthy source of fat in each meal except for around training times
- Eat a source of fruit or vegetable with each meal
- Avoid calorie containing drinks
Here is an example of a cutting diet designed to target fat while minimizing loss of lean body mass.
This diet was designed for a 200lb individual. Bear in mind that all people are different and there are large differences in metabolic rate for each individual.
10g of L-Glutamine and 5g Branch Chain Amino Acids
* This meal may be skipped if your more of an endomorphic body type
45 mins of gentle cardio (walking uphill, jogging slow, cycling)
40g Whey Protein in water,
40g Oats in water
1 Cup green tea
1 Small Grapefruit
100g Tuna in Olive Oil with a small salad (tomatoes, leuttice, cucumber)
Handful of Almonds
15ml Flaxseed Oil
100g Mackerel or Salmon
100g Fibrous Vegetables
1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter
1 Large Chicken Breast
2 Slices Wholemeal bread
05:00pm: Training (weights)
40g Whey in water
75g wholemeal pasta or brown rice
150g chicken breast or 150g lean beef
Loads of vegetables
Some fish oils (O3 epa,dha)
1 Cup green tea
200g cottage cheese
* Note – this diet is a rough guideline and should be tweaked according to results.