Friday, December 27, 2013

Fat Loss Foods ...

Previously we reviewed the Calorie Weight Loss approach with the emerging Hormonal Fat Loss approach. 

The calories in/calories out focus is one that's been touted for years, but has demonstrated a very low sustainable success rate (5%), and tends to be accompanied by insatiable hunger, cravings, and poor energy levels. 

Hormonal Fat Loss, on the other hand, focuses on keeping your HEC (hunger, energy and cravings) in check to allow for a much more manageable process, which is the key to sustainability. 

Today we'll take a look at the food side of the equation when it comes to keeping your HEC in check.  Later in the week we'll review the exercise protocols that supports optimal HEC balance.

Keep in mind, as more or better information emerges, we're eager to share it with you.  Although what we share today may differ slightly than what we said back in 2007, attribute that to having new distinctions.  You will find more similarities in what we've shared over the years, rather than contradictions.  Our goal is to continually give you the best information available to support you in reaching your health and fitness goals. 

As well, remember that you will never hear us tell you that you can NEVER eat the item you tossed into the garbage bag last Wednesday.  Sure, a minority of people are successful in eliminating completely an item that temps them in the middle of the night.  But most people are highly successful focusing on EATING the best possible foods 90% of the time, and then having 10% flex time for eating what you want/desire.  On Saturday, for example, I enjoyed BBQ shrimp pizza at Crave, and then beer at the Reds game as my 10% last week.  A big contributor to sustainability includes enjoying life too!

Okay, so sustainable body fat reduction involves two things; low calories in the context of hormonal balance.  The hormonal balance focus should be the priority of the two, because when it's balanced, calorie intake normally takes care of itself.  

In other words, eat more of the right things more often and you will have less hunger, reduced cravings, and stable energy levels, leading to an automatic reduction in food intake.  Doing it the other way, by taking a calorie first approach, and you will likely increase your hunger, elevate your cravings, suffer from energy lows, and a slowed metabolic rate.

And let's clarify an important distinction - healthy foods are not the same as fat loss foods.  They certainly can be, but healthy does not equal fat loss.

On the other hand, fat loss foods are almost always healthy foods.

What is healthy eating?

Healthy eating has to do with vitamin amounts, mineral concentrations, essential fat content, fiber, and phytonutrient levels. There are plenty of foods that have great nutrient profiles that are not necessarily going to help most people lose body fat. These include whole grains, nuts/seeds, avocados, olives, and high fat dairy foods to name a few.  We still recommend these foods because they CERTAINLY are healthy options.  But the key with these foods for body fat reduction is controlling portions.  And that really is the primary challenge – not the quality, but rather controlling the portion sizes of these healthy foods.  It's not easy to stop once you start in on a jar/bag of nuts, for example, particularly for those that have metabolisms that make it difficult to feel satisfied from meals. Again, the issue is the quantity (not the quality), because these surely are healthy foods.   

From a body fat reduction perspective, a better approach is to eat your fill, and you can do just that when you zero in on fat loss foods.

What is fat loss eating?

Fat loss foods have three things that set them apart; high volume of water, high amount of fiber, and/or elevated protein content. Water, fiber, and protein are all very filling.  This is the reason many people can sit down and eat five or six cups of cereal and still feel hungry (cereal has no water, a high starch to fiber ratio and almost non-existent protein). Try eating 5 cups of broccoli or 5 boneless skinless chicken breasts. If you're even able to finish either of those, you certainly aren't going to be hungry afterward.

To illustrate, let's calculate the calories. For the sake of trying to be fair, let's choose the best cereal out there (or at least the one that many people consume because it's "healthy"), Kashi Go Lean. 5 servings (5 cups) = 950 calories. 5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (6oz each) = 936 calories. 5 cups of broccoli = 273 calories. You could eat 5 chicken breast AND 5 cups of broccoli and still have only eaten just over 200 calories more than 5 cups of Kashi. Even going through this exercise makes me cringe, because 5 chicken breast and 5 cups of broccoli would be nearly impossible to consume. 

The reality is, you can take any lean protein source and pair it with as many non-starchy vegetables as you can eat.  You can also throw in as much whole fruit as you want (berries, apples, pears, and citrus).  You will end up with more food than you can eat, less calories, less insulin, and more nutrients than most any low fat, whole grain diet ever created.

Fat loss eating means eating more of the right things more often. The right things = lean protein, vegetables, and fruit.  Fat loss foods are both healthy AND help with body composition, while "healthy foods" may not help with either one.

Here's a list of 10 GREAT Fat Loss Foods, based on the same criteria above. High water, high fiber, and higher protein along with power packed nutrition including vitamins, minerals, essential fats, and healthy plant chemicals.

Eat from this list of food 90% of the time, and my bet is your body's appearance and its health will improve dramatically.

Fat Loss Foods 10 Best

  1. Salmon - High protein, good essential fats, and low mercury content.
  2. Berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries) - A potent source of antioxidants.
  3. Bison- All the best elements of chicken and red meat rolled into one. It is low fat like chicken, and loaded with nutrition like beef.  More nutrition info: http://thebisoncouncil.com/health-and-nutrition
  4. Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc) - low amounts of starch compared to fiber and phytonutrients that help estrogen metabolism.
  5. Eggs - The yolks are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet and the whites are the perfect protein. If your doctor still thinks eggs raise cholesterol in everyone and that cholesterol causes heart disease, please give him or her a recent nutrition book.
  6. Greens (spinach, chard, kale, dandelions, etc) - Almost negative calorie with power packed nutrition.
  7. Water veggies (celery, cucumbers, etc) - Eat a dump-truck full of this stuff and you probably still won't break 1,000 calories.
  8. Apples - Great for a sweet tooth, loaded with water and soluble fiber and plenty of nutrition.
  9. Boneless skinless chicken breast - low fat, satiating, and lots of ways to prepare it.
  10. Cocoa powder - Virtually zero calories, high fiber, and loaded with bioactive compounds that raise energy, blunt hunger, and reduce cravings. Add 1 tablespoon to a mug, pour hot water on top while stirring and you have the world's best diet aid. It also lowers blood pressure, has the same blood thinning effect as aspirin, balances blood sugar, and more.

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins
NSCA-CPT, ACE

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