This page continues from part three here: How many calories should you eat to lose fat?
We’ve just established that to lose fat you need to:
- Know roughly how many calories you burn in a day.
- Track your calorie intake so you can eat fewer calories than the number in point 1.
You can eat absolutely any food and still lose fat!
This is huge. A total game changer. The following are all true:
- There are no foods that burn body fat just by you eating them.
- You can lose fat, no matter what food you eat. Even if you eat chocolate, pizza and ice cream daily.
- You can gain fat, no matter what food you eat. Even if it’s all “healthy” stuff.
The only thing that causes fat loss is being in a calorie deficit. The only thing that causes fat gain is being in a calorie surplus. The type of food does not matter for fat loss or fat gain.
Type of food DOES matter for health, but “healthy food” isn’t healthy if you’re eating so much it’s making you fat.
You could eat 5 mars bars every day and nothing else and you’ll probably lose fat. That’s because a 51g mars bar x 5 = a total of 1,150 calories. Eating this number of calories is going to result in a calorie deficit being present for the vast majority of people.
Someone else could eat a completely balanced diet with no “bad” foods and still gain fat (if they eat too many calories).
This does not mean that a diet of 5 mars bars a day is “healthy” or “better for you” than the balanced diet. But it also doesn’t mean a diet made up of “healthy” foods is good for you if the calories are so high you gain fat.
Yes, the person eating the balanced diet would be getting more vitamins, micronutrients, fibre etc. but if they’re gaining fat, how healthy is their diet? They’re eating foods which on their own may be “healthy”, but overall their diet is NOT healthy. Being overweight does not correlate with good health.
You could have two people eating the exact same diet of “healthy” meals, with the same amounts. Person A could gain fat while Person B could maintain their weight. This is what would happen if the amount of calories in the meals was more than the maintenance of Person A and less than the maintenance of Person B. Person B would be eating a healthy diet. Person A would need to bring their calories down.
What Should You Do Then?
The best thing to do is eat a balanced diet with 80 – 90% of what you eat coming from whole foods like lean meat, fish, vegetables, whole grains etc. The other 10 – 20% can come from things you really enjoy. This should all be done whilst eating on average a sensible amount of calories for you.
Having a Protein and a Fibre Goal Reduces the Amount of Junk You Eat
Yes, you can eat nothing but junk food and lose or maintain fat if you pay attention to calories. However, you’ll also be nutrient deficient. Adding fibre and protein goals can keep you on track automatically.
If you’re trying to build or retain muscle, you’ll need to be eating quite a lot of protein anyway. This limits the amount of junk you can eat, as you will struggle to hit protein targets for bodybuilding without including some good, lean protein sources! You’ll have to devote some of your calories to lean red meat, poultry, fish, eggs etc.
Add in a fibre target and you’ll be forced to eat mostly good food as you won’t find much fibre in Ben and Jerry’s or Oreos! Fibre is in vegetables, fruits, oats etc.
Once you’ve hit those two goals, a lot of your calories will be gone! You should, however, still have room for some treats when you want them. Want a few more treats? Reduce your calories the next day, or for a few days.
Wondering how you’re going to stay on top of tracking, especially with eating out and going to social events involving food? Read part five next: How to Make Fat Loss Progress and Still Have a Life.