There seems to be a lot of confusion as to the ideal food balance for weight loss. Low carb diets! High protein diets! High fat diets! High carb diets! There is an endless range of options, all claiming to be the new miracle for weight loss.
The truth is that the ideal balance should be based 1) on how much of each of these we actually need to maintain internal body functions and 2) on how much of each of these we need give us stable blood sugar levels throughout the day, giving us the energy we need but at the same time not adding to our fat stores and weight.
A good analogy would be that the body has 3 fuel tanks – one for fats, one for proteins and one for carbohydrates, if you under fill ANY ONE of these tanks you will slow your metabolism and gain weight and if you over fill ANY ONE of these tanks you will also gain weight. This understanding is one of the most important food balance understandings you can have.
Notice I emphasise ANY ONE of these tanks so that should make you realise that over-eating proteins (high protein diets), under-eating carbs (low carb diets), over-eating carbs (high carb diets) or indeed any other extreme diets are all actually wrong for weight loss and usually fail after about 3 weeks!
Fats have the smallest fuel ‘tank’ but have an important role to play in the body. We do not need a huge amount of them. Avoiding very unhealthy trans or hydrogenated fats (found mainly in processed foods – so check labels!) is crucial and so also is controlling the level of saturated fats (animal fats). Taking about 20% of your daily calories from fats is plenty for good weight loss and health and about half of these should be essential fats (omega 3 & 6 from nuts, seeds and fish) as these play important structural and protective roles in the body. Some people avoid fats at all costs and this is a serious mistake!
Proteins have a slightly larger fuel ‘tank’ with a more widespread role in the body especially if you are exercising to lose weight. However I see two extremes here. There are those who over-eat proteins (especially bodybuilders and other sports people) in the belief that more is better when in actual fact, even with very intensive training the demand for protein only increases slightly. Inevitably you sometimes see these people build up a lot of fat from storing this excess protein.
Then there are those who grossly under-eat proteins often because they do consider protein foods. These people suffer by slowing their metabolism and they lack good muscle tone and also affect other structures including bone density. For most people getting 25% of their total calories from lean protein sources (white fish, poultry, tofu) is more than enough to meet their weight loss and health requirements.
To be continued……..