A calorie is a calorie, the advice goes. Eat too many ... gain weight. Eat fewer ... lose weight. But many believe weight loss is more than a calorie equation, with so-called new-and-improved ways to lose weight being ever popular. Americans spend an estimated $42 billion annually on weight loss foods, products, and services. With that much money at stake, it's no surprise there are an overwhelming number of "fad" diets and other weight-loss products on the market.
Basically, every single person has a unique calorie maintenance level. This is the amount of calories that your body requires each day to burn for energy to perform all of the tasks it needs to perform. From intense exercise like cardio and weight training, to simple daily tasks like brushing your teeth and getting dressed, to the various physiological functions needed to keep you alive (like digesting and breathing).
These diets and methods might never come right out and admit that or say you just need to eat less calories (partly because it doesn’t fit with their gimmick, partly because people don’t want to hear that they have to [GASP!] count calories or [GASP!] eat less of them, and partly because it’s hard to make money off of something that is simple, obvious and free.)
In this study, eating more protein helped overweight men preserve more lean mass when they lost weight. The men were put on a diet that gave them either 15% or 25% of energy from protein. But here’s a huge difference that you won’t see in the abstract: the low-protein group was vegetarian; the high-protein group got meat. (The study authors never explain why on earth they would do it like that).
I mean, people lose fat on low carb diets, low fat diets, paleo diets, vegan diets, raw food diets, diets that involve eating “clean” instead of “dirty” or not eating after a certain time at night, and countless other types of diets that involve every gimmick, fad and method you can think of except the specific task of creating a caloric deficit. But yet, they have all caused people to successfully lose fat.
The plan is based on the theory that eating carbohydrates creates a production of insulin, a hormone secreted from the pancreas, leading to increased weight gain and hunger. When converting to this approach, the plan holds that dieters will experience a reduced appetite, and their bodies will use stored fat for energy versus burning glucose from carbohydrate digestion. Burning fat for energy will supposedly lead to weight loss.
That doesn't mean that we don't have certain areas where we're predisposed to put on fat. If I gain a few excess pounds, most seem to appear on my stomach. Other people tend to put on pounds in their thighs or rear. They're gaining weight everywhere, of course, but it seems to appear more readily in a certain area. On the flip side, if I lose five or six pounds, my waistline gets noticeably less soft.
The scale is not necessarily your friend. You may want to lose fat – but the scale measures muscles, bone and internal organs as well. Gaining muscle is a good thing. Thus weight or BMI are imperfect ways to measure your progress. This is especially true if you’re just coming off a long period of semi-starvation (calorie counting), as your body may want to restore lost muscles etc. Starting weight training and gaining muscle can also hide your fat loss.
Which leads us to point number two: If you want to lose belly fat, you'll need to lose weight. If you stick to the following plan, you won't have to lose as much weight as you might think because your body will burn more fat for energy, but still. Reducing your body fat percentage will require losing some weight. Don't go into this thinking you won't have to lose weight, because that's the surest way to fail.
There is a substantial market for products which claim to make weight loss easier, quicker, cheaper, more reliable, or less painful. These include books, DVDs, CDs, cremes, lotions, pills, rings and earrings, body wraps, body belts and other materials, fitness centers, clinics, personal coaches, weight loss groups, and food products and supplements.
There are many ways to do intermittent fasting — ranging from fasting for a number of hours each day up to an entire 24-hour fasting period one or two times a week. “If you're trying to kick a habit like eating late into the night, then stopping eating earlier in the evening and fasting overnight could be beneficial for you,” says Hultin. “There are many types of intermittent fasting, so ensuring you pick one that works for you and your lifestyle is important.”
A good diet contributes to optimal health, but not everyone has a positive relationship with food. Some people battle with their plate, wit body image issues and obsessions joining the fight. The act of eating if often rife with strong emotions like boredom, stress, and guilt. Looking for relief, people reach for a slice of cake, setting them down a path of unhealthy behaviors. Next, it’s snacking in the middle of the night, foregoing proper portion sizes, skipping meals, and other untoward habits. Then comes a cycle of on-and-off, short-term dieting that rarely, if ever, leads to permanent weight loss.
The primary advantage to this diet is that you will lose weight if you eat what you are given. Portion-and-calorie-controlled meals are great tools for long-term weight loss and maintenance. They take away the guesswork of how many calories you consume, they can be nutritionally balanced, they are quick and easy to prepare, and they teach you about healthy portion sizes.
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The conclusion? A caloric deficit is the sole cause of fat loss. Even if those calories come from the shittiest sources known to mankind, fat will STILL be lost. It’s not the source or the quality of those foods and the calories they provide… it’s the total quantity of it all. (Additional details here: Is Sugar Bad For You? How Much Should You Eat A Day?)