Want to lose weight?

I’m reading Why we get fat: and what to do about it, by Gary Taubes, (I got the audiobook infact), and thought I’d share some of the ideas within it:

If you want to lose weight, it’s less about reducing how much you eat, and instead addressing WHAT you eat.

Want to lose weight?  Eat a healthy, varied diet and aim to reduce the amount of carbs you include in your diet, and you’ll lose weight.  Add exercise to that equation and you’ll get fitter, feel better and lose weight.

We’ve been told that to lose weight we must reduce the fat and calories we intake… but this is wrong!   Most low fat meals and snacks are low in fat, but replace the fat with carbs.

To aid weight loss, the foods you eat should be low in carbohydrates and high in protien.  Fat should NOT be limited or restricted.  Easily eaten carbohydrates (sweets, bread, potatoes, pasta) should be avoided where possible.  In addition, protien and fat provide better satiety (the ability to satisfy hunger) allowing you to feel fuller for longer.

When you lower the daily intake of carbohydrates, your body begins to produce less insulin and uses fat and protein as its main source of energy.

When you start eating a low carb diet, you basically cut out all foods that are rich in carbohydrates – pasta, potatoes, rice, alcohol, all kinds of sweets and chocolates, bread, cereals etc, whereas you can eat a lot of foods and drinks with high protein content such as meat, milk and dairy products, fish, soy beans, beans, fish, eggs, protein shakes, asparagus and some low-carb fruit like berries and melon.  Included in the diet are also green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, celery, aubergin, zucchini, green beans, etc, and foods rich in fats such as butter, pure lard and vegetable oils.

The aim is to keep your insulin and blood sugar levels lower than they would normally be when you eat high amounts of carbohydrates, thus reducing the ability for your body to store any fat you eat.  As your body does not have carbohydrate to draw energy from, it looks to the fat and protien in your system to provide energy.

Here are some guidelines on what NOT to eat:

1. Sugar, jam, honey, syrup, all sweets.

2. Fruits canned with sugar.

3. Cake, cookies, pie, puddings, ice cream, ices.

4. Corn starch or foods with flour added, eg: gravy, cream sauces.

5. Potatoes, (all types, sweet/irish etc), white root veg (carrots), macaroni, spaghetti, noodles, dried beans, peas.

6. Fried foods, fried with butter or oil.

7. Fizzy drinks, fruit juice, alcohol including beer, wine, spirits.

8. Bread, anything made with flour.

9. Cereals.

Here are some guidelines on what to eat:

1. Meat, fish, birds (chicken, turkey).

2. Green veg.

3. Eggs, dried or fresh.

4. Cheese.

5. Fruit (if unsweetened), cranberries, rasperries, blackberries (avoid bananas, oranges and grapes unless training/exercising)

6. Nuts (plain: ie unsalted and not roasted).

Separating the good from the bad carbs is the next important step which people should learn while on a low carb diet. Complex carbohydrate is the technical term used for the “good carbs”, while simple carbs refer to the “bad carbs”.

High glycemic carbs are bad (or simple) while low glycemic carbs are good (complex). “Glycemic” is a term used for the speed at which the food manages to raise the insulin levels and the blood sugar, leading to fat gains.

Rice, pasta, and white bread exemplify foods that are high on sugar and classified as “bad carbs”. Brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread, on the other hand, are examples of foods, classified as complex or “good carbs”.

Good carbs release glycogen for energy, however the energy is released slowly and have a lesser effect on insulin and sugar levels throughout the day.

Carbs are good to have just before and just after a workout – banana, nuts, oatmeal are all good sources of carbs which will help you train.  If you don’t eat carbs, your body will get the energy you need from your protien and fat stores… so if you want to really increase your chances of losing weight – don’t eat carbs, but make sure you eat high protien (and fat) meals/snacks to fuel and recover from your training.

Now because I do a lot of exercise, I feel that I can have limited numbers of carbs in my diet to fuel my training.  But I should aim for the carbs to be ‘good carbs’ as suggested above.

Fruit juices are a whole other story… I have a glass of fresh orange or pineapple juice every morning.  Filled with Fructose… it’s perhaps not as healthy as I first thought: 

Taubes says that ‘when fructose hits the liver in sufficient quantity and with sufficient speed, the liver converts much of the sugar to fat.‘ 

I’ll maybe do more on Fructose later on here, and I might just replace my daily fruit juice with milk instead!

So, reduce your carbs, increase your activity levels – and you’ll lose weight (or maybe maintain a target weight like I have done since March!) 🙂

Try not to see it as a diet, but change your ‘diet’ to fit in with the above, allowing the odd ‘treat’.  Don’t restrict yourself too much, but like including exercise in your life, make these changes in your food intake a part of your lifestyle and have a healthy, varied diet.

Want to find out what weight you should be?  Go here:  Target Weight Calculator

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