FIGHT FAT WITH FAT
Personal Training Manager Matt Williams explains why you need fat and how you can use fat amongst other food swaps to increase your fat loss.
You need fat, and a whole lot more. Stop denying your body what you need for a healthy life. Start feeding it properly, and your body will glow with vitality. Dietary fat has been demonised for years, but you don’t need to shun it. Use it to your advantage! Start here and learn how you can burn fat with fat.
For years, decades even, we’ve been fed the lie that the best way to control calories and shed fat is to cut fat from our diet. Since fat contains more calories per gram than protein or carbs, it only makes sense that, in order to lose fat, you need to consume less of it, right? Wrong.
Though totally flawed, this low/no-fat dogma was once upon a time aggressively embraced by the fitness community. Regardless of past success with fat-restricted diets, lowering fat intake doesn’t equate with dropping fat. A little fat could even help make your fat loss more successful!
EATING FAT DISPLACES EATING CARBS
When you look at the macronutrient percentages of your diet, everything needs to add up to 100 percent. Eating more of one macronutrient means that your intake of another macronutrient needs to decrease. Regardless of your goal—fat loss, hypertrophy, or performance—you should meet your protein needs first, then adjust your fat and carb intake accordingly.
Eating more fat means eating fewer carbs, and vice versa. From a fat-loss perspective, displacing carbohydrates by increasing fat in your diet sets the stage for an optimal fat-loss environment. Insulin, released by your body in proportion to the amount of carbohydrates you eat, is the major gatekeeper when it comes to nutrient partitioning—telling what nutrients where they can go. Lower overall insulin levels—achieved by reducing carbohydrates—allow your body to more readily access fat stores for energy while also allowing fat to enter and fuel your muscles.
EATING FAT ENHANCES YOUR BODY’S ABILITY TO BURN FAT
From a biochemical level, low-fat diets don’t make sense. They don’t condition your body to be efficient at burning fat. Instead, they ramp up the enzymatic machinery in your body so it becomes efficient at burning carbohydrates.
Lower-fat diets can also have negative impacts on adipokines which impact fat loss. Adipokines are hormones released specifically from your fat cells. One such hormone, adiponectin, is a true fat-burning hormone that works to enhance your metabolism and increase the rate in which fats are broken down, curbing your appetite. Lower-fat diets lead to lower levels of adiponectin.
EATING FAT MAKES YOU WANT TO EAT LESS
The hormonal and metabolic benefits of eating more fat are great, but one of the best benefits might be the satiating effects of fat. Nothing is worse than eating a lower-calorie diet that leaves your hungry all the time. This is traditionally a huge problem in diets which deny you foods with a higher fat content such as nuts, fatty fish, cheese, and avocado.
Satiating fat leaves you feeling full. When the fat you eat hits your small intestine, it sets off a cascade of signals which includes the release of hormones such as CCK and PYY. These two hormones play a major role in appetite regulation and satiety; they leave you feeling full and satisfied. The more satiated you are, the less likely that you’re going to sneak in snacks between meals or pile on a second helping.
A WORD OF CAUTION: AVOID THIS BIG FAT MISTAKE
It’s true, fat is good for you. That said, fat is not a calorie-free food. It’s the exact opposite. Despite this rather obvious fact, many people have embraced adding ample fat to their diets with reckless abandon. While eating more fat—roughly 30-35 percent of your total calories, or more if you’re low-carb dieting—is beneficial, these calories add up quickly, so be careful.
Even if you aren’t counting your calories and macros, it’s good to have some level of measurement control. I recommend that you always measure fats and oils before using them. Dressing a salad with olive oil can quickly escalate from two teaspoons to two tablespoons, and one eyeballed spoonful of peanut butter can actually be the equivalent of three servings. Fats are delicious and easy to over-consume so, even if you are making an effort to eat more fat in your diet, make sure your efforts are calculated.
These humble eats are superheroes—they can rev your metabolism by as much as 15%. Work them into your diet and kickstart your fat loss.
What a catch! Research suggests the omega-3s in salmon and other fatty fish help build muscle—and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Omega-3s may also help reduce fat storage by lowering cortisol levels (scientists have yet to confirm how).
Go for: Two 3-oz servings of fatty fish per week.
Calcium-rich foods have slimming superpowers. Get too little of this mineral and your body’s more likely to pack away calories as fat, according to a review of studies.
With up to 50 percent more calcium per ounce than milk, yogurt is a potent source. Better yet, its probiotics may help keep belly fat under control.
Go for: At least two servings a day.
For a speedy metabolism, you need to keep inflammation in check and blood vessels clear and supple. Avocado’s unique combo of essential fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and antioxidants helps you do just that. Plus, one avocado’s 14 grams of fibre kicks up your calorie burn.
Go for: One to two daily servings of foods high in healthy fats.
High in resistant starch and fibre, beans force your system to use extra energy (as in calories) to break them down.
Research from the University of Colorado suggests that if you choose foods high in resistant starch—it’s also found in whole grains and not-quite-ripe bananas—you can increase your calorie-burning power by up to 24 percent over the course of the day.
Go for: One serving of a resistant-starch food per meal.
Feel the burn? It’s more than mere sensation: chilies’ heat signals the presence of capsaicin, a compound that, along with capsiate, can propel the body to scorch an extra 50 to 100 calories following a spicy meal.
Go for: Chillies as hot as you can stand. (But watch out! The hottest ones—habanero, Scotch bonnet, and Thai or Indian peppers—are too fiery for many people.)
This packs caffeine and antioxidants called catechins, a dynamic duo believed to stimulate your nervous system and increase fat-burning. Studies suggest that drinking green tea can help you drop pounds and trim your waist.
Go for: Several cups a day (keeping in mind how caffeine affects you).
You use it to wake up—and your metabolism will, too.
The caffeine in one cup of joe temporarily perks up your metabolism by as much as 15 percent. Caffeine also helps mobilise the forces that burn stored fat.
Go for: One to two cups a day, especially before exercise.