The Single Best Sustainable Fat-Loss Diet
You're not here to put socks on centipedes. In this article, you'll finally get some concrete answers to your most burning question.
The newest trend in the health and fitness world takes a slightly progressive stance.
"The best diet is the one you can stick to."
It's true, but really unhelpful.
"What's the best diet to lose fat?" Thinks Dave.
"The best diet is the one that you can stick to" he reads on his favourite fitness blog.
"Great," thinks Dave, "But, that doesn't help in the slightest"
It's popular to say the best diet is the one that suits you, your preferences and your lifestyle. That's all fine and dandy but doesn't give poor Dave many hard facts to help him begin to take control of his weight.
To give no more guidance leaves a bit of a gap. How can someone take action?
Let's break away from that safe saying and give you a bit more meat to chew on.
Here are the concrete guidelines on what the best fat-loss diet for you will look like. These are the rules any best diet must follow.
1. You Must Consume Less Energy Than You Expend Each Day
The energy (or calories) you consume come from food. The energy you expend is from exercise and daily activity.
There must be an imbalance for fat-loss to occur. That's a non-negotiable law of the body.
You create an imbalance of energy called a deficit. This means your body needs to get the extra energy from other places, as you're not consuming enough. The other place it gets energy from is your fat stores. Winning.
Even diets that promise you don't have to restrict calories will trick you into doing so. They give you set rules to follow which makes overeating very difficult. Like cutting out carbs, which is normally over 50% of the foods you eat.
When you have to follow strict guidelines, you can't help but consume fewer calories. Fat-loss occurs because you make a deficit.
Any way you choose to go about it, you're best fat-loss diet will create an energy deficit. Hopefully, in a way you can sustain for at least two months.
2. Prioritise Protein Like it's Your Special Someone
It's been shown that diets that are higher in protein work better than diets lower in protein.
There are many reasons for this. The most important two are:
People who eat more protein eat fewer calories and stay full for longer. It is the most appetite blunting nutrient, compared to carbs or fat.
Diets higher in protein cause slightly more fat loss and slightly less muscle loss, compared to low protein diets.
Your best fat-loss diet will contain lots of protein. At least 25% of your total calories. For better results, 0.82g per pound of body weight (or 1.8g/kg).
3. Plenty of Vegetables
(and a lil' fruit)
Ahh, the magical vegetables, rounding out the top three in your best fat-loss diet list.
The reason veggies rock is two-sided.
1. They are extremely filling while being low in calories.
2. They contain all the micronutrients you'll ever need.
What about fruit?
Fruit is also awesome. It contains vitamins, minerals, fibre and all the other good stuff. It also contains a lot of natural sugar, which isn't bad, but this means fruit can be surprisingly high in calories. Vegetables give you the same nutrient-boost for much fewer calories.
Check out how much food you get for 100 calories of broccoli verses 100 calories of banana.
Which will fill you up more?
Your best fat-loss diet will contain vegetables making up the bulk of every meal, along with 1-2 pieces of fruit a day if you wish.
4. Embrace the Fat
Fat is an essential nutrient. It's used in a bunch of hormonal functions. It also makes food taste better.
For the most part, how much fat makes up your diet is completely up to you. The only rule here is you can't go zero fat. Dieting already does crazy things to your hormones and metabolism (think about the cravings you get after a week on a new diet). You need to eat some fat to normalise these.
Your best diet will consist of no less than 15% of your calories from fat.
The good thing about these guidelines is, if you follow them, you WILL lose fat.
These are the fundamentals. Mastering them is the first step to mastering fat-loss.
Make the fundamentals your primary focus, then fill in the gaps to customise it to you and your lifestyle.
1. Do Carbs or Fat Taste Better to You?
Beyond the hard and fast rules above, the rest of the diet is up to you.
Do you do a lot of high-intensity exercise? Or can't imagine a life without rice and pasta?
A higher carb and lower fat diet is for you.
Do you crash and burn when you eat too many carbs? Or do you instantly feel fatter if you glance at a chocolate bar?
A lower carb and higher fat diet is for you.
The good thing is, as long as the calories are matched, which one you choose won't affect your rate of fat-loss. It looks a little something like this.
The totals of both diets are the same and only the carb to fat ratio changes.
Again, it won't matter for pure fat-loss, so choose whichever you like most.
2. When Should You Eat?
I'll fire a question straight back to you. What eating times suit your schedule?
There's been a trend towards fasting lately (specifically, skipping breakfast). It works for some people and not so much for others.
All fasting does is minimise your 'eating window' in the day.
Eating meals between 6am-9pm you will consume a number of calories.
Restrict eating meals to between 1pm-8pm and you will inherently consume fewer calories.
It's nothing special. You simply won't eat as much which helps with your calorie deficit.
But, really, it's up to you. Like breakfast? Eat it. Don't like it? Skip it.
On another note, there is some legitimacy to having more carbs around your workouts. But stressing over a high-carb pre and post workout meal is not going to make a massive difference to your fat-loss.
In the end, eat whenever suits you best.
3. How Many Meals Should You Eat Over a Day?
As with meal timing, the number of meals you eat in a day doesn't matter. Only the total calories do.
Look at it this way:
It won't make a difference. The theory of 'keep the metabolism burning' won't give any extra significant results. Some people enjoy eating three larger meals a day, others enjoy eating many smaller meals.
What suits you best?
4. How Much Unclean Food Can You Eat and Still Lose Fat?
Now that's a big, hairy question. There are no hard rules here, but instead, some advice.
1. You've got your calorie deficit in check from #1.
2. You've got protein intake covered.
3. You've got all your vegetables and fats sorted.
Great. You've earned yourself some leeway to eat whatever you want.
As long as you have your main priorities covered, it's acceptable that 20% of your calories can come from 'unclean' sources. I'm talking pizza, ice-cream and chocolate. Whatever gets your motor running. Just be sure you have 1, 2 and 3 done every day.
It equals out to 1 meal in 5 being not so good. Or a piece of Jenny's choc-fudge-brownie birthday cake at lunch. Don't abuse it. You must still be in a calorie deficit. But, have some fun!
Know that if you eat mostly healthy and stick to the rules, you can eat dessert every single day and still lose fat.
It's All About Your Diet's 'Stickability'
The last point above segues nicely into what really makes a 'best' diet.
Sustainable is the key word.
Enjoyment. Stickability. Consistency. It's all the same.
You must be able to stay on your best diet for a sustained period to see fat-loss.
No more short-term thinking. Imagine the following:
Let's say you have 30kgs to lose. That's a lot. At a rate of 0.5kg per week (an accepted standard rate of weight loss), you're going to be dieting for over one whole year.
If you're going to succeed, your diet must fit your preferences, lifestyle and be enjoyable, or you won't stick to it for very long.
Short-term successes do not equal long-term results.
Fat-loss in the short term is the easy part, keeping the fat off is what really counts.
"You have your targets lined up, all you have to do now is pull the trigger."
Now you need to execute. Are you ready to take action?
Use the 7 questions below to form your very own 'best diet'.
1. How many calories do you need?
Multiply your bodyweight in pounds by 10-12. This will give you your calorie range in which fat-loss will occur.
2. How much protein do you need?
Multiply your bodyweight in pounds by 0.82. (or 1.8 for you guys using kilograms). This will give you an optimal number to how much protein you need in grams a day. You don't have to be on this number exactly, but somewhere within the ballpark will work.
3. How do you eat more vegetables?
How can you add vegetables to your favourite meals?
Which vegetables haven't you eaten in ages?
How could you eat more salads?
Have you ever tried courgetti, cauliflower rice/mash or spiralised squash?
What are your favourite 3 vegetables? Eat them every day.
4. How much fat do you need?
Calculate 15% of your answer to question 1. Divide this number by 9. This will give you your minimal fat intake in grams. You don't want any less than this.
5. Do you like carbs?
Do you like the taste of carbs?
Afterwards, how do you feel?
Does your body respond well to bread, rice, pasta and potatoes? Then eat more carbs and keep the fat lower by reducing oils, nuts, seeds, avocados and creamy sauces.
If not, reduce the latter and eat more of the fattier foods. Add in fish, eggs, meat and butter.
6. How many meals do you eat a day?
Enjoy three square meals a day? Breakfast, lunch, dinner and done.
Or do you prefer eating more often to keep hunger at bay? Breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and done.
Find what schedule suits you and portion out your meals accordingly.
7. How much 'junk' food can you eat?
A bit here and there. If you eat mostly healthy, you can have dessert. Try to be aware of how you feel afterwards. Did it actually cure your craving or make you happy? Or did you eat it for the sake of eating?
The answers you give to the above will give you a thorough outline to YOUR best diet. This is what it looks like for you, on paper, plain as you can see.
What you can do next is either:
Option A) Take action. Use this article to go and smash your fat-loss goals on your own.
Option B) Do nothing. Not recommended.
Option C) Schedule a free consultation.
I’ll happily sit down for a chat with you (over Skype) and break down your current situation and goals.
Together we will make a concrete plan on how you can start moving forward. I’ll do whatever possible to give you some actionable advice to break through the plateau you’re stuck at.