In Dieting For Fat Loss Part 1, we covered the essential rules a fat loss diet MUST follow in order to be effective and sustainable. The breaking of any of those critical rules will automatically disqualify any fat loss diet out there from being “sound”. Take those diets and throw them in the trash, period. Nuff said about that!
Now what about the diets that don’t break the crucial rules? Does this mean that ALL diets that sneak past my “criteria doorman” are effective? No, not necessarily. Although they may be off to a good start, there are some additional factors that need to be considered.
Listing all of them would take pages and pages of information, and individual requirements would need to be known and taken into account. This is obviously impossible to do in a blog post. What I can do, however, is break down some of the most popular dieting strategies and give my opinion of them. Here are some of the more popular trends:
1) Paleo Dieting- This diet is based on foods that were eaten during the Paleolithic Era. These foods include: meat, eggs, fish, shellfish, vegetables, fruits and tree nuts. Oils are also permitted as long as they come from fruits or tree nuts. Some argue that certain other foods should be permitted, but I have provided you with the basic list.
All other foods including grains, potatoes, beans, dairy, etc. are prohibited. This diet does get insulin under control and can be effective, but I find it a little too limiting, especially if you are training hard for strength, muscular size and performance.
That being said, Paleo proponents do have many sound principles that I totally agree with. They are:
a) Eliminate sugar
b) Cut out processed food
c) Drink pure, clean water as your beverage. Back in the Paleolithic Era, they drank pure spring water with no added fluoride and chlorine.
d) Eat the widest variety possible of permitted foods.
e) Don’t overdo supplements. Get most of your nutrition through whole foods.
f) Eat organic foods, fruits and vegetables.
g) Only eat wild caught fish and wild game. Very few people will actually eat wild game these days, so the best you will probably be able to do is eat organic free-range, grass fed meats.
If you choose to eat meat, this diet is very good. I would only make a few tweaks, namely, allowing certain foods that are on their “avoid” list. I would include certain healthy starchy carbohydrates on a re-feed day, or a post-workout meal. These carbs include: sweet potato, oatmeal, baked potato, legumes, and pseudo grains (quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, etc.).
2) Vegetarian Eating- There are many types of vegetarians. In fact, I am considering writing an entire post (or two) on this topic alone. But for this section, I will discuss only the most common type of vegetarian, the lacto-ovo vegetarian. This type of vegetarian will eat dairy and eggs but will abstain from eating any type of animal flesh.
This diet is very effective if done correctly. In order to do this right, you must follow ALL of the Paleo principles listed above with, of course, the exception of point “g” above. For vegetarians, this point should be replaced with the guideline that they only eat organic, cage free eggs.
Also it is important not to consume most types of grains and flour products on this diet. These foods do fit the “vegetarian criteria” but do little to encourage fat loss and may even contribute to systemic inflammation in the body.
Instead, emphasize organic legumes (lentils, black beans, kidney beans, etc.) and pseudo grains (mentioned above). It should also go without saying that a healthy vegetarian diet will include lots of organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Healthy oils should also be included as they are an important source of much-needed fatty acids.
3) Fasting- Although fasting has been around for centuries, it has recently gained some momentum in the fitness/fat loss world, which is why I felt compelled to include it in this post. Before we get into it, I would like to give you a simple definition of what fasting is.
My definition of fasting is simply abstaining from food for a period of time. Notice that I just said “food” – not “food and water”. If any fast tells you to cut out water, simply crumple up that diet and throw it right into the garbage where it belongs. No need to get upset — just crumple, throw and move right along!
There are many different types of fasting. In fact, there have been thousands of books written on the topic. Fortunately for you, I have experimented with just about all of them and can save you the painstaking process of weeding out the good ones.
There are several styles of fasting that are therapeutic for a variety of health conditions, but that is not what this post is about. I’m only going to discuss the type of fasting that has validity for the fitness enthusiast. A fitness enthusiast is (or should be) primarily concerned with fat burning, muscle building, improving performance, squelching inflammation, and improving general health. There is one type of fasting that can deliver these results if done correctly. Enter intermittent fasting!
Intermittent fasting means abstaining from food for just long enough to get the benefits listed above, but not long enough to cause muscle loss, insane food cravings, and other potentially deal-breaking side effects.
There are three ways to do fast effectively in this manner. They are:
a) Fast for twelve hours everyday. This includes the eight hours you should be sleeping. The additional four hours will obviously be when you’re awake. So eat your last meal two hours prior to bed. You can drink as much water as you would like to but don’t drink so much that it will disturb your sleep with frequent runs to the bathroom.
Then don’t eat for two hours after you wake up in the morning. I know all of the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” advocates will be screaming about this advice, but don’t let those voices creep into your head.
I’ve experimented with this and believe it or not, there are no downsides. During this two-hour window in the morning, focus on super hydration. This entails drinking as much clean water as possible during this time — a minimum of 40 ounces.
b) Fast once per week for 24 straight hours. During this day, you can drink as much clean water as you would like with a half ounce per pound of bodyweight being the minimum. Also, herbal tea, seltzer, and water with the juice of half an organic lemon are permitted.
On this day, low intensity work is allowed, but you should probably save intense training for another day.
c) Alternate between a normal day of eating with a day of partial fasting. Partial fasting, in this case, will be for 16 hours. Just like the other options above, stay super hydrated during the fast. Additionally, do your strength/speed work on your “normal” days and hit some lower intensity cardio (i.e. walking) on your fasting days.
Well, that wraps up Dieting for Fat Loss Part 2. Stay tuned for Part 3 where we will discuss the following:
• The truth about protein requirements
• The optimal meal frequency
• And much more…
If you have any comments or questions about anything related to fat loss dieting, please feel free to drop a line in the comment section below.
Dedicated to your success,