What matters most for weight loss?

It came across a great article by Precision Nutrition about carbs and weight loss. Below Selver Ahmed, our guest fitness expert, shares highlights from the article.

So when people want to lose weight, they’re often told to eliminate the rigatoni, rotini, and ravioli – along with rice, potatoes, bread and even fruit.

The reason: carbs, of course… and the hormone insulin. When you eat carbohydrates and blood glucose rises, your body—specifically your pancreas—releases insulin. That’s because insulin is your body’s key regulator of blood glucose.

Your body is constantly adjusting its hormonal dials and this is not based solely on food intake but also on thousands of other inputs and processes you aren’t even aware of. When your insulin levels are high, you burn less fat for energy than when your insulin levels are low. But you won’t stop burning fat altogether. You’ll preferentially burn carbohydrates for energy instead.

There is zero scientific evidence to suggest that you gain weight if your energy intake is less than your energy expenditure.

Remember, in healthy people, the increase in insulin after a meal only lasts a few hours. Then it returns to a baseline, allowing fat burning to throttle up again.

Do people lose more weight on low-carb diets?  Yes? No? Maybe? Sometimes?

There are a few potential reasons why people on a low-carbohydrate diet eat less:

– Greater intake of protein increases satiety and reduces appetite

– Limited food choices cut out hundreds of highly-processed calories and liquid calories like soda, juice, even milk.

Manufactured deliciousness: Why you can’t stop overeating certain foods…

Today’s hyper-palatable processed food is creating a modern-day food crisis — one that’s leaving us feeling sick.

But what matters most for fat loss?

There’s one thing for sure: you can’t separate a calorie from its food source. Soda contains sugar. So does an apple. Both foods are mostly carbs. But you can’t eat that apple without also getting some fiber, which slows the absorption of the sugar into your bloodstream. Plus it’s a solid food that’s dense with other healthy nutrients. What’s more, an apple isn’t highly palatable or highly rewarding, so it doesn’t stimulate your brain to overconsumption like soda does.

Processed foods are typically high in calories, salt, sugar and fat. Not surprisingly, people often refer to these types of foods as “addictive”: cookies, pizza, chips, ice cream, chocolate, cake, etc.

In the end, what you believe doesn’t change what’s needed to lose fat and keep it off:

– Consume less energy than you expend

– Develop eating, exercise, and stress management habits that are sustainable long-term.

If a low-carb diet helps you do that, great. If a low-fat diet helps you do that, right on. If a diet with a relatively equal balance of carbs, fat, and protein suits you better, that works too.

Ask yourself: “How’s this diet working for me?” Some signs it might not be working for you include:

– Difficulty staying consistent

– Frequently “falling off the wagon”

– Feeling tired, hungry and/or cranky most of the time

– Not seeing results

If any of these resonate, be open to the idea that another approach might get you better results.

Remember that there’s no “best diet

There’s only what works best for you. And that can change over time. A universal, one-size-fits-all miracle diet would make good nutrition simpler. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist.

What matters most for fat loss—and any other health pursuit—is finding an eating pattern that feels reasonable, sustainable, and yes, enjoyable. Surely that’s a model that everyone can agree on.

A flower doesn’t think of competing with the flower next to it.

It just blooms.

Zen Shin

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