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Diet & Fat Loss: The Eternal Conundrum

I have been told that low carbs is the best diet for fat loss but whenever I consume a few more carbohydrates than normal I feel as though I gain weight.

Why does this happen?

Low-carbohydrate diets can sometimes be the best diet for fat loss but they do have a tendency to dehydrate the body. This is the water that is held inside muscle cells and is essential for normal and optimal functioning of the cell. It is not extracellular water (such as subcutaneous water under the skin), the type that is associated with bloating or holding water. Rather when carbohydrate intake is increased, the amount of water brought into the cells increases, hydrating them. Your weight may increase, but it’s certainly not due to a quick increase in body fat.

Why are people improving their blood lipid profiles on ultra low carbohydrate plans such as the Atkins Diet, and does this make them the best diets for fat loss?

With any low-calorie diet, people should lose weight, especially those diets that keep a tight control on insulin and blood sugar fluctuations. Any weight loss, whether by the Atkins diet or other method, will improve blood lipid profiles as well as lower blood pressure, blood sugar and insulin levels. We don’t recommend Atkins style diets other than for very short periods of time and only for very specific reasons (such as photo shoots or making weight for a competition). They are not practical for real life purposes, nor do they offer the balanced nutritional profile essential for long-term health.

However, let us be clear that there is a difference between zero carbs (Atkins) and the sensible low carb (high green vegetable) nutritional programmes that a significant number of our clients follow with remarkable success. And always remember that no one single, dogmatic diet plan is the single best diet for fat loss.

Best diet for fat loss

Taken in parts, the Atkins Diet has proved itself to be one of the best diets for fat loss. Note we write “in parts”!

Is it true that carbohydrates can make a person fat?

If you eat more calories than you expend in energy, then anything can be stored as fat – protein, fat or carbohydrate. However, it is true that the wrong type of carbohydrates are dieting suicide for some people. We often take our carbohydrate/insulin resistant clients off virtually all carbohydrates for the first 10 days of their fat loss programmes, only reintroducing them when insulin sensitivity has been restored. This is almost always a remarkably effective strategy for both short and long term fat loss as it enables the body to switch to burning fat for energy rather than carbohydrates.

Is there a best diet for fat loss?

There is no “one size fits all” best diet for fat loss. We are all unique individuals with unique metabolisms, endocrine systems, and lifestyles and that must always be mirrored by personalised ways to lose body fat in the quickest and most efficient of manners.
It is important that we keep in mind that every diet has the potential to result in fat loss, no matter how realistic or unrealistic it may be. The basic formula for weight loss is quite simple: eat fewer calories than you expend during a day.

At Ultimate Performance London Personal Training, we always stress that the method used for weight loss must be able to be maintained. In fact in most circumstances we consider the word “diet” to be a dirty word, as we are far more concerned with informing and instilling lifelong healthy eating habits and eschew all the so called quick fix solutions that especially seem to proliferate on the internet. It is well worth noting here that The National Weight Loss Registry of the United States, which tracks those that have achieved significant, long-term weight loss and is run by the Universities of Pittsburgh and Colorado, has documented that not one person has been successful by the long-term elimination or severe restriction of any one of the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat). Get away from focusing on their being one best “diet for fat loss” and instead focus on what is right for YOU at this one specific time.

I’m trying to lose fat. Should I avoid fruit, wheat products and dairy products?

You shouldn’t be eating them to excess, but unless you have a food allergy (which is more common than many realise with wheat and dairy products) they can still be eaten whilst on a restricted calorie diet. Some of our clients will eliminate these products as competition nears (bodybuilders and those seeking extremely low levels of body fat), but for regular healthy eating substances such as fruit should generally have a place at the meal table.

I’ve heard that insulin resistance is a significant contributor to weight gain. Does this mean that I should follow a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet?

If you are insulin resistant you need to do everything you can to regain insulin sensitivity – this is your own personal “best diet for fat loss”. A low carbohydrate diet when combined with other factors such as weight training and the consumption of supplements such a fenugreek and fish oils (to name but two examples) can help to reset your body’s tolerance to carbohydrates, and allow you to gradual reintroduce them back into your diet.
As with all things to do with rebalancing hormonal responses this is a very complex issue and if you feel that you are insulin resistant we recommend contact us directly to arrange a consultation.

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