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It’s the question on everyone’s lips but with so many fad diets out there and so much conflicting information how do we know which diet is right for fat loss. (Notice I say fat loss not weight loss. Body composition is the best way to determine whether you are losing fat as weight loss only indicates just that. This can comprise of fat, muscle and fluid).

I think by now most of us all know that the crazy fad diets out there are just a quick fix with generally a large rebound following the completion of the diet.


So what does work?

High carbs, low fat? Low carbs, high fat? High protein, low carbs? If we choose to count calories are all calories the same? Is a protein calorie the same as a fat or carb calorie? If we choose high carbs are all carbs the same? What about fats, which fats are best? No wonder we are so confused with all these choices.


The next stage of this article I will break it down in the hopes that you will better understand some of these options and work out the best nutrition plan to achieve your fat loss goals…




If you exercise a lot resulting in a high level of energy expenditure then counting calories and creating a calorie deficit on a daily basis will certainly ensure you achieve WEIGHT LOSS. Notice again I said weight loss not fat loss. So how can we ensure that by following a calorie deficit diet we will lose fat only and not just weight? Lets look at some facts:


  • 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound (0.45 kilogram) of fat
  • 700 calories equals about 1 pound (0.45 kilogram) of muscle
  • Individuals who have a higher body fat %will more likely lose fat and maintain muscle on the calorie deficit diet
  • Individuals who have a lower body fat %will likely lose more muscle than fat on a calorie deficit diet.



If you create a 500calorie deficit per day then at the end of a week you may either lose approximately half a kilo of fat or almost three kilos of muscle. Weight change depends on the balance between energy in vs energy out. Energy out includes your BMR or base metabolic rate (energy your body uses at rest) and any exercise or activity. It also includes less obvious factors such as energy lost in waste and energy used to process the calories. Turns out energy in vs energy out is more complex than we thought.




Some say a calorie is a calorie so what they are saying is that is doesn’t matter whether the calories come from clean food or junk food they are all just the same. WRONG!!! Its true that all calories have the same amount of energy however how our bodies process these different types of calories is the key.

Different calories go through different pathways in the body some of which are inefficient causing them to be lost as heat.


THERMIC EFFECT ON FOOD – (Energy used to process and digest food)

The thermic effect on food is a massive factor that you must understand before working out where your calories should come from.

Did you know that celery is a negative calorie? It takes more energy to break down and absorb the celery than it contains, rendering it a negative calorie. Lets hope you like celery. Processing calories is a complex process. Scientists have found that there is three factors to this phenomenon, these are:


  • Dietary-induced thermogenesis (DIT)
  • Specific dynamic action (SDA)
  • Thermal effect of food (TEF)


Calories used during processing are burned through, chewing, swallowing, churning and producing acid and enzymes to create muscular contractions. Each day we burn approximately 10% of our daily energy intake through processing our food alone.

Protein burns the most energy through digestion (20-30% of total calories),

Next are carbohydrates (5-10%) and then fats (0-3%). Therefore if the majority of your daily calories come from protein you will burn more energy overall than if the majority of your calories came from carbs or fats.



Satiety is how full a particular food makes you feel after eating it. It is much easier to eat 500 calories from donuts than it is to eat 500 calories of broccoli; this is due to the satiety index of these foods.   This is where people can go terribly wrong with their diet, because if you choose foods with extremely high calories that have a low satiety index then you will tend to eat much higher calories overall without realizing. Some foods with a higher level of satiety are: Potatoes. Oats, Beans, Fish, Eggs, Apples, Salad and Beef.



Scientists have performed hundreds of thousands of studies over the years that have consistently shown that low carb diets lead to more fat loss. One of the main factors behind this is that low carb diets drastically reduce your appetite therefore people eat less calories overall. Research studies also show that when study groups were kept on the same calories, the low carb group still resulted in greater weight loss. Some of this weight loss came from water loss as carbs hold water in the body therefore a low carb diet will reflect in less excess fluid in the body. This is the reason that people lose the most weight in the first week of dieting due to a lower level of carbs.



Dietary fat has had a bad rap over the years. For years we were told that the best way to lose fat is to cut it out from our diets. No fat products became the latest thing. This myth came about because fat contains more calories per gram than carbs so it made sense to cut it all out of our diets right? Wrong!!! Lowering intake of fat can actually cause you to drop less fat. Keep in mind that I am talking about fats of the healthy kind. If you like your avocado, nuts and oils then there is no need to miss out on these foods altogether. You just need the decrease the amount of carbs you eat if you want to increase your fats. Either way will work but you need to work out what suits you and what you will be more than likely to stick to. From a biochemical point of view taking fat out of your diet teaches your body to become efficient at burning carbs not fat. It also has a negative impact on the hormones Adipokines that are released specifically from fat cells. Adiponectin is a fat burning hormone that increases your metabolic rate and increases the rate in which adipose fat is burned. Low fat diets decrease Adiponectin. Good fats are also high on the satiety list.



The two main simple sugars are fructose and glucose. They have the same chemical formula and weigh the same but to your body they are completely different.

The liver metabolizes fructose where glucose is metabolized by all the body’s tissues.

Below are some examples of why their calories are very different.


  • Fructose leads to higher levels of Ghrelin than glucose. Ghrelin is the “hunger hormone.
  • The satiety levels in the brain are not stimulated by fructose the same way they are with glucose.
  • If you consume high levels of fructose this can lead to insulin resistance which in turn creates abdominal fat, increases triglyceride levels, blood sugar and small, dense LDL (the bad cholesterol)
  • Fructose and Glucose have the same number of calories but have different effects on hormones, hunger and metabolism. Remember a calorie is not a calorie.


Please note that this applies to fructose from added sugars only, not the fructose from fruit. So we have learned that even though fructose and glucose have the same chemical formula, fructose has much more negative effects on hormones, appetite and metabolic health.



With all the controversy out there in regard to nutrition there is always one aspect that experts agree on and that is the fact that refined carbs are bad. The list below is examples of refined carbs, which are foods that have added sugars of high fructose corn syrup.

  • Table sugar
  • Honey
  • Agave syrup
  • Corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Molasses
  • Maple syrup
  • Tapioca syrup
  • Treacle
  • Panela
  • Saccharose
  • Carob syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Rice bran syrup
  • Malt syrup
  • Dextran
  • Sorghum
  • Fructose
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Maltose
  • Glucose syrup


Refined carbohydrates are low in fiber and they quickly raise blood sugar.

When we consume foods that spike our blood sugars it ends up with a crash in blood sugars a few hours later which in turn makes you crave more refined sugars to try to spike the blood sugars again, its just a viscous cycle. Studies have consistently shown that individual’s who consume foods that are high on the glycemic index, are at a much greatest risk of becoming obese and diabetic. Remember not all carb calories are created equal.



We have learned that calorie sources can have vastly different effects on hormones, hunger, energy expenditure and the brain regions that control food intake.

Even though calories are important, having to count them or be continuously consciously aware of them is not necessary to lose fat. Macro counting (counting of Protein, Carbs and Fats) is a more successful way to go. Eating more of one macronutrient means that your intake of another macronutrient needs to decrease. If your number one goal is to lose fat 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. Make sure that if you choose higher fat macros then you need to make sure you are consuming enough fibrous veggies to cover the points noted in the satiety effect and ensure you are hitting your fiber intake. A good nutrition coach will help you work out what macronutrients to ensure optimal fat loss while helping you stick to the plan without blowouts. Nutrient timing is another factor that I will cover in my next article. This is an important factor that will help you increase your macros while still achieving the same results.

If you need help with your pesonalised nutrition plan call us now on (07) 55220846 for more information.



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