Does low fat help you lose weight?

For decades Americans have been told to eat a low fat diet to lose weight, and enough of them have made enough of an effort to make a difference in overall fat intake. So how is that working out for us? If low fat leads to weight loss, shouldn’t we be getting thinner and healthier?

But we’re not. We are getting fatter and sicker.

tatar, beef, minced meat
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gym room, fitness, sport

There was recently a discussion about diet in a low carb group I belong to on the site Fat Secret, and I thought I would expand on that here. I wrote:

There has never been any evidence that eating fat is the cause of obesity, nor that eliminating fat will lead to weight loss. Yet “authorities” whose trade is the status quo, many of whom make money off bogus low-fat diet programs and products, have repeated the lies so often that they have become “common sense” to many if not most people who have not done any research.

Among the “authorities” is the government, which has a major stake in the profitability of corporate mega-farms that produce wheat, corn, and soybeans. As they have told us to eat more carbs, less protein, and less fat, people have become fatter and sicker. What is now considered a “moderate” carbohydrate intake would have been considered “extremely high” a generation ago. Many people eat a diet that is 80% or even 90% carbs and wonder why they are not getting healthier. Even going back to the macronutrient ratios of the 50s and 60s without losing weight would result in positive lean body mass gains and fat loss for many people.

When I was in college about 10 years ago I saw a presentation about a study the students in the fitness trainer program had done, comparing fat intake and body composition. People who ate more fat were lighter and leaner. Not by a lot, but the connection between eating fat and being fat simply was not there.

I sometimes hang out on yahoo answers. A vegan woman was trying to “prove” that the vegan diet provides plenty of protein, and gave a link to the website of a vegan bodybuilder who (she said) was very muscular. The guy looked ill compared to any reasonably lean meat eater who even occasionally exercises.

The key is not to add fat to the diet. Rather stop restricting fat intake arbitrarily, eliminate low quality starches and sugars, then eat more of what is left. Vegetables, meat, poultry, and seafood, both lean and fatty, full-fat dairy, and occasionally nuts and fresh fruit.

And I could also add that a low fat diet will drive me nuts. Someone claiming to be a qualified medical professional just recommended to me on Twitter, not knowing what I eat, how much I weigh, or what my body composition is, that I should reduce fat and carbs and lose weight. That is medical malpractice, diagnosing and prescribing without any supporting information.

The fact is that my body fat is in the target range for my age. I could get leaner. I could lose more weight and build more muscle, and probably will. But it’s also a fact that a low fat diet will literally drive me nuts and make me binge. Whereas being low in protein makes me crave protein, being low in fat makes me want to eat everything.

We often hear it said that binges are a result of emotional issues and emotional eating. I think they are more often a result of macronutrient imbalances than the experts want us to consider.

This entry was posted in Bodyfat, low fat and weight loss, Protein and tagged fat free diet, low fat and weight loss, low fat diet on January 2, 2013 by admin.
Protein cycling to increase lean body mass?

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I have never read anything about this anywhere, so I don’t know if it is something unique to me. But I have noticed that when I consume 80 grams to 100 grams of protein a day while maintaining a calorie deficit, I will continually lose weight.

Given my exercise program, this may actually be a low protein intake. If I increase my protein intake by 50 grams a day, the scale would show a net gain of a pound a day until such time as I cut back on the protein. (I haven’t actually gone a full week on this regimen, since rapid weight gain is for me a trigger for a strategy change.) Then I would return to losing weight as expected.

If I do this, I do not show any improved performance at the weight peak. Rather it seems to be accompanied by a decrease in performance.

When I do return to my previous weight, I am leaner.

Note that I do not use purchased protein powders or supplements. I eat meat and other animal products for my protein needs.

If this was a technique used by athletes for building muscle mass I would call it “protein cycling”.

Perhaps when I reach my goal weight I might try this for a week and see what happens with it. But until then I think I will try to avoid weight gain, even if it appears to be lean.

If I wasn’t keeping close tabs on my intake and weight, I wouldn’t have noticed this correlation.

This entry was posted in Bodyfat, Protein and tagged lean body mass, protein cycling, protein intake, weight loss on December 29, 2012 by admin.
Losing weight and dietary macronutrient composition

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Gosh, it’s been a long time since I’ve recorded a journal entry.

Where I am now:

My diet is about 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass per day, plus fat and carbs in ideally equal caloric amounts. My target caloric intake is 750-1000 per day. I could survive on a low carb diet (Atkins induction level of 20g net carbs per day) if I was sedentary or only doing walking for exercise, but I need more carbs to do the weight lifting I have myself doing.

I couldn’t survive on a low fat diet. I tried this again, having tried it previously some years back, and I can’t stick to it because it drives me crazy, followed by a high energy binge.

Not eating enough protein results in poor performance and recovery on my weight training (I track everything) and eventually leads to high protein binges.

I may attempt to determine if there is a minimum number of grams of carbs a day I need to eat for maximum performance.

On a protein sparing modified fast with protein intake of about 130 grams per day (and less than 20 grams each of carbs and fat) my weight loss slowed to a halt.

At this point I am about 30 pounds from my initial goal, which is based on a theoretical ideal body weight from an online calculator. This is based on a theoretical sedentary individual of my height and age (at best). I am clearly putting on muscle, and my %bodyfat should be lower and thus my goal weight might be higher. I bought a set of calipers, which shows how to get a rough estimate from a single reading (waist). I was unable to train my boyfriend to get reliable readings for me, so I will have to go with that rough estimate at the present, which would mean my %bodyfat is 29.2% rather than the bmi-based estimate of 33%. I have two bioimpedance devices that display %bodyfat from 35-38%. Those are likely way off.

The calculation worksheet that came with the caliper shows that were I to lose bodyfat only while maintaining my lean body mass to get down to 18%, my weight would be 132 pounds.

So I am in the “desired” range for a woman of my age, but what I want is to be lean (and a size 8). Probably when I reach that size 8 goal the reading will be in the “lean” range, and I should find someone with some experience to get me a more accurate reading.

For my weight training, I only do strength exercises with free weights, dumbbells, etc. I have a weight bench, Olympic bar, hex dumbbells in common sizes, a rack that can be used for bench or squats, and a pullup bar mounted on the wall. No need to ever go to a gym, at least not for a long time.

When you do proper strength exercises, you automatically get shape. Women don’t get bulky like men do. We don’t have the genetics There are only 2 ways a woman might actually get bulky: 1. steroids and 2. not being lean. I do look bulky if I have too much padding over those shapely muscles.

So it’s all N=1. So what? If you haven’t run the same experiment on yourself to find out how protein, carb, and fat intake affects your weight loss, body composition, or performance, you’re working on N=0 right now.

I’m waiting eagerly for your data. Anybody?

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