Basic Nutrition for Fat Loss

SnowdropsImage courtesy of -Marcus- / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nutritionally, your body needs three types of things:

  1. Protein
  2. Vitamins and minerals
  3. Energy

Protein is important for your body to maintain and repair tissues. Increased exercise levels require a higher protein intake since there is more tissue repair occurring. Meats are the most significant source of protein, but it can be also be found in eggs, legumes, and dairy.

Vitamins and minerals have so many different roles in the body that it's a shame to lump them all together, but we're going to do it anyway. Generally speaking, they are needed to allow your body to function normally and healthily. Eating a wide variety of vegetables as well as some meats and seafood will provide the majority of your vitamin and mineral needs.

Energy is necessary for your body to move and function. You “burn” fuel to release energy just as your car does.

Energy can come from three sources: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. These fuels can come from the food you eat or from your body's own tissues. This is important from both weight loss and performance perspectives.

Your body can use protein for energy, but most of the protein you consume will be used for structural purposes instead, unless your intake is much higher than your body needs.

That leaves fat and carbs. Both fat and carbohydrates provide energy, but the energy from carbs comes at a cost: elevated insulin levels. This predisposes your body to store fat, not burn it! That’s why it can be so hard to lose fat when you’re eating bread, pasta, cereals, and other carbohydrates, even if you’re consuming fewer calories than your body needs.

When you lose fat, it doesn't just magically disappear; your body metabolizes it for energy. This can only happen if your diet isn't providing enough fuel to meet your body's energy needs. But fat loss isn’t the only way your body can respond to a low-calorie diet.

When you eat a low-calorie diet that is high in carbohydrates, your body has trouble using stored fat for energy and is forced to use your own muscle tissue (protein) as fuel. Your metabolic rate will decrease to compensate for the calorie deficit, leaving you tired and listless.

Fat, on the other hand, is the perfect fuel. That’s why your body stores excess energy as fat in the first place. Eating some fat won’t keep for from burning your body’s fat, as long as your caloric intake is lower than your body needs, and keeping fat in your diet helps you to feel full.

For weight loss, you also need to make sure you aren't eating too little. Even though your body might be storing enough fat to keep you running for weeks or months, when you drastically reduce your caloric intake your body will respond by cutting expenditure. But if you keep your intake moderate and your activity level up, your metabolism will stay active, too, and you'll see the weight loss you're looking for.

The Bottom Line

It all boils down to a simple prescription:

  1. Eat enough protein to let your body repair and rebuild (0.5-1g per day per pound of lean body mass)
  2. Eat as much and as many different kinds of vegetables as you can.
  3. Add in as much fat as you need to make it through the day feeling good.

Overshooting on the protein some won't do any damage; overshooting on the fat will slow or stall your weight loss. And keep starchy carbohydrates and sugars out of the picture if you want your weight loss to be easy and consistent.

Is this information too technical for you? Not technical enough? Remember, you can schedule diet and lifestyle sessions with Nathan when you want to devote some one-on-one time to aligning your nutritional and life habits with your health and fitness goals! Just e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (716) 222-0207.