You’ve probably heard of the low carb diet, everybody recently jumping at the opportunity to see if it’ll finally be the “one” that works. It certainly gets enough press, but whether it actually gives you the results you’re looking for isn’t related specifically to carbohydrates. Any diet can work, it is a matter of understanding the principles behind effective weight loss and applying them in a way that doesn’t discourage you from continuing your hard work. That’s where the low carb diet becomes very appealing to many individuals, it gives them the opportunity to stick through the dieting process without feeling too strained and giving up hope too soon. As a result, burning that stubborn fat off doesn’t have to be a dreaded experience that requires the utmost dedication day in and day out. Coming in with the understanding that Rapid Weight Loss does not work, the fact that it’ll take time to achieve the results you’re looking for is certainly correct. However, rolling our eyes about the inevitability of this whole journey being a dreadful experience is another matter. It doesn’t have to be!
To start, I’d like to mention that it is imperative that we focus on burning fat, and not weight. Lose Weight vs. Lose Fat demonstrates the significant purpose of this, but in a flash summary what’s important is that you’d ideally like to retain the muscle mass on your body and burn the fat, as opposed to losing both combined. The end result is a lean physique that is appealing to the eye instead of just a smaller version of the previous you. If we’re going to engage in getting in shape, we might as well make sure that it is fat that is being burned off our bodies.
For most, the experience of “cutting” (losing weight/burning fat/etc.) is a long-winded journey that focuses on eating healthy and restricting the overall intake of food in the first place. This is a good start, but quickly leads to people faltering for a variety of reasons. You see, when you’re doing something that you don’t want to do it is easy to find reasons to cut corners, cheat, or give up altogether and rationalize why that is. It is natural, and I’ll go as far as to say, expected. It’s no fun, it doesn’t give you room to breathe and enjoy what you want, and you often wind up cracking. Let’s change this.
To understand how to burn fat we need to understand that the most important factor is making sure that you are below your maintenance calories each day. The fact that you burn more calories in a day than you intake through food is imperative through simple math. Needing 2,000 and eating only 1,600 will, over time, lead to fat loss. A safe amount to stick to below maintenance is anywhere from 200-600 calories. Now, what we’re looking for is to maximize how we look with the comfort of enjoying more types of food than we thought. How do we do this?
Low carb diets could be your answer. Many people have been led to believe that they work, but for the wrong reasons. Ad magazines want to scare you into thinking that carbs turn to fat, that you can’t eat them before bed, and that they make you gain weight. Maybe they could attack you while you sleep as well, no? The great misconception here is that it is not the carbohydrate that does any of this, it is the overall caloric count you manage to rack up each day. Too much of any macro-nutrient can lead to this result, whether it be fat, carb, or protein. All of them are made up of calories, and in the end, the amount of calories you consume through food will be the determining result (bringing us back to the maintenance calories concept mentioned above). However, lowering carbs in exchange for fats can be your key towards burning that fat. Again, it’s not because one is more magical than the other, but lowering carbs in exchange for fats might be the ticket to success for many for a variety of reasons.
Carbohydrates make you retain water, while proteins dehydrate you. Increasing the amount of protein you eat at the expense of carbs will ensure that you look the leanest possible, regardless of body weight, throughout this whole process. Carbohydrates give you that dreaded “bloated” look, so often you’re left looking bigger than you are because your cells are storing a ton of extra water. The combination of fat and protein will help avoid this, making you look leaner than you are based on the scale itself. However, these are just the minor bonus factors.
It is also the easiest to cut carbs, something many people may disagree with. Yes, we all have sugar cravings, we all want carbs, and that’s part of the larger picture keeping people from losing weight. However, the reason we have these cravings is because that is what we put in our bodies. Fat substitutes can crush that sugar crave, keeping you from over-eating. Fat is essential to our bodies (Good Fat vs. Bad Fat) and it can be a great substitute for energy. Many people know that carbohydrates give us energy, but fat can do it too, and often times even better. Fat digests slower, giving you more sustained energy.
By focusing on eating higher fats and protein at the expense of carbohydrates, you can get more out of cutting (less bloat/water weight) as you’re dieting, make sure that you have a wider variety of foods available to fill your caloric needs for the day (keeping you satiated, keeping you more rooted to the cause and not cheating), and give you energy without the possible crashes (which often accompany certain carbohydrates – particularly in higher amounts). Low carb diet foods are plenty, let’s go over some options.
Some of these may seem a little unconventional, but they’ll help achieve your goals. You might question how you could eat these things when trying to lose fat, but like explained above, high fat + high protein works for many precisely because of the foods available. Clean Food Bad Food might give you some more perspective.
Sausage/hot dogs – yeah, add some ketchup or mustard and eat this solo without bread/buns. Perfect pre-workout meal. High fat, but relatively low protein, so add some protein source if you feel you’re low for the day.
Bacon – it’s allowed. Everything in moderation, of course. Add some to your scrambled eggs and you have a great breakfast option.
Grilled Beef Patties – 300 calories, 30 grams of protein. Fat/Protein greatness. Available in the freezer at your local market, check out Salmon/Turkey patties too, same protein without the fat. You can gauge what you need for that particular meal based on how much of what you have had for the day so far. Delicious.
Boiled Eggs w/Yolk – bad cholesterol from egg yolks? Yeah, right. That’s a myth (unless you’re already suffering from extremely high cholesterol, cause then of course it wouldn’t help either). Fat/Protein, with the protein being the best protein source available.
Steak – I don’t think this one needs any explanation.
A) Herring Fillets in sauce – come in a can like tuna, except they’re rich in Omega 3s and have a high fat/protein ratio. Basically, a meal on its own considered they’re dipped in sauces like tomato, for example.
B) Herring Fillets – slices of herring, can add them to another meal or eat a couple on their own. Once again, high Omega 3s same benefits as option A.
You want a different idea for a salad? Chop up some sausage and mix it with other types of vegetables, such as peppers and onions, add some low calorie sauce and mix it all in a bowl. Preferably as a warm meal that you can make in a pot. Same end result, without “fat-free” or “sugar-free” dressings necessary that you know don’t taste nearly as good.
Almonds are your snack of choice throughout this journey. Unsalted. (Any nuts will do, in fact)
Of course, as long as you are below your overall maintenance each day you will wind up losing fat (if your protein intake stays high so we avoid muscle loss as well – hitting the gym to make sure this is the case won’t hurt). However, this is a great separate road you can take to achieve the results you are looking for that’s outside of the regular mundane brown rice and grilled chicken routine. Furthermore, having a meal or two with carbs throughout the day is not the end of the world. If you require it to switch things up, or need it for the calories, it’s fine. Just make sure you stick to complex carbs because they increase your satiety greatly (whole wheat, brown rice, etc.).
Burning fat doesn’t have to be mundane, it doesn’t have to be routine and tasteless. Keep those calories under maintenance (not too much!) and you’ll wind up achieving your goals whether you use a low carb diet or any other diet. The key points are: keep protein high, exercise can only help. The reason I say the latter is because you technically do not require exercising, it can certainly help if you want the best results. For those of you weight lifting, hitting the gym is obviously imperative, however, a low carb diet can work for anybody. It is up to you to get creative, find low carb foods, and come up with ideas in the kitchen. What matters is that it is possible, so if you’re up for it try it out and see where it takes you. For a relevant topic on weight loss, check out our Easy Ways to Lose Weight article. Good luck!