You still hear health professionals promoting a “low-calorie balanced diet” as the best method for weight loss. A healthy balanced diet, where you get the right amounts of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids) is perfect for maintaining your weight. But a low-calorie balanced diet – eating the same foods but less of them – is not only ineffective for weight loss but can be detrimental to your health – and to your objective of losing fat – for several reasons.
First, reducing all three macronutrients by about the same amount will make you protein deficient. As a result you will burn muscle mass as well as fat to make up for the reduction in calories. But proteins are not just found in muscle – bone, skin, organs, enzymes and hormones are all made of protein.
Reducing all foods by the same amount will still provide enough carbs to keep your insulin levels up. And as I have explained many times in these articles, high insulin levels lock in the fat stores, making them unavailable for burning, so any weight you lose will be mostly muscle.
Furthermore, the inability to burn fat for fuel creates a shortfall in calories available to the body to carry out its normal functions, making you feel tired, weak, and hungry. In response, your body will lower your metabolic rate (go into starvation mode) so it can live on the lower caloric supply. Unfortunately this lower metabolism continues after you go off the restricted diet. Now when you return to your normal diet you are getting more calories than your body can use, so guess what happens? The end result of being on a low-calorie balanced diet: muscle lost, a little fat lost, and you gain fat faster than ever. And the failure of the diet will be blamed on your lack of will-power. Sound familiar?
The safest and most effective diet for losing fat weight is a protein-sparing ketogenic diet which conserves muscle while it burns fat. This contains adequate protein (the same amount as in your maintenance balanced diet) and essential fats and oils, and the minimum requirement of carbs (which isn’t very much). Ideally your weight and lean mass should be monitored by a coach trained in the program.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.