I wrote last week that I was starting on a diet. I’m a week into it and, as promised, I’ve collected here a batch of update articles and posts that are principally about suitable diets for fat loss.
- Let’s start this week with an in-depth technical review of what fat loss is. Ryan Andrews did a detailed article for Precision Nutrition a few months ago exploring the subject of fat loss incuding some information about things like how your hormones interact with fat loss.
- Dr Bryan Walsh caused a stir a few months back by releasing a new weight loss program called “Fat is not Your Fault”. The instinct for a lot of healthy and active people is that this will just be the excuses used by obese people but it seems that Dr Walsh is genuinely trying to help people who want to be helped by identifying that there may be reasons other than the basic problems of poor diet and insufficient exercise. The difference is that rather than just identifying the possible causes of the fat and shrugging your shoulders, Dr Walsh appears to also be trying to provide ways to address these causes. Not convinced? Try reading an article that he wrote for Alwyn Cosgrove and an interview he also did for Alwyn.
- Refeeding is something I used during my last weight loss cycle with a lot of success. I tended to have a few hours at the end of a Saturday every other week when I would eat an enormous amount of food that was still Paleo. Despite the spike in my calories, I found that my weight loss continued at the same rate as it had been during my very successful January weight loss session. One of the biggest benefits for me was the mental recovery I had from a few hours of eating all the foods I was avoiding the rest of the time (eg. avocados, prawns, beef, carrots, bananas, the list is endless). A few months ago Mark Sisson did a detailed article about carb refeeds and how they interact with weight loss. He notes that “Carb loading or carb refeeds can be used, quite effectively, by those interested in dropping the last couple body fat percentage points.” I couldn’t agree more. It’s definitely something worth checking out if you are on a really tough diet.
- Anyone who has followed my previous weight loss diets will be aware that I cut the calories incredibly low when I’m on a weight loss diet. However, my big concern when doing a tough weight loss programme is whether my hard-gained muscle is also at risk. As a result enormous amounts of time have been spent over the last few years reading up about the effects of different weight loss diets on muscle. I was really pleased to see that a recent study has suggested that for short periods of time (the study period was one week) very low calorie diets seemed to significantly reduce body mass without impairing acute strength performance, irrespective of the carbohydrate content. This is perhaps, in itself, a persuasive argument for a refeed every 10-14 days although it would be good to see a similar study done which assessed the length of time they could go before there is noticeable impairment in acute strength performance.
- The danger with taking calories very low is that we then have a “treat” weekend when we take in far too many calories. The problem is that this excess of calories can take days to “diet” off again. John Barban pointed out that this can result in you dieting for the majority of the year just to stay in a static place with your body. The answer is to ensure that even at these feast times we still don’t overindulge, but it’s really difficult to do and takes a huge amount of willpower.
- IronMan Magazine wrote up about a recent study in which protein intake levels in young athletes were measured while they undertook a four week diet. Unsurprisingly, those with lower protein intake ended up losing far more muscle than those with higher protein intake. The take home message from this is, of course, that muscle (and presumably therefore, strength) can be impacted by weight loss and that a careful choice of diet is needed to address this. Personally, I choose to take a significant proportion of my calories during a weight loss diet as protein because my total calories are so low and if I took in too much fat I would just use it for energy instead of burning my own body fat.
- So in the last few links we’ve established that protein helps us maintain muscle and significantly decreased calories seems to work well for weight loss. In addition, for me, I’ve found keeping carbs very low and fat pretty low helps me, thanks to my fine-tuned ability to burn both fat and carbs for energy. In my low-carb zeal I was therefore surprised and intrigued by a post about serotonin and the protein to carb ratio, suggesting that if we let the carb levels get too low in relation to protein we may start to suffer from poor sleep, bad moods and various other undesired traits. This is definitely something I’ll be keeping an eye on as I go through this latest diet phase with my radically high (even for me) protein to carb and fat ratios. Have you experienced something like this when on a low carb diet and were you already fully fat-adapted at the time?
I’ve got a final batch of links about weight loss gathered together but I’ll probably leave it for a few weeks to save anyone who isn’t interested in weight loss or fat loss getting bored of this monotonous thread of blog-watches. For those who have found the links I’ve put up so far useful, watch this space for the final instalment!