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Low-carb diets have become popular for losing body fat. However, some people still have difficulty making such a drastic change in lifestyle. Considering how much foods like bread and pasta are loved, the idea of excluding them from one’s diet for good can be unthinkable.

Without a carb-free diet, there are many other options to take where you can lose body fat and still eat carbs.

1. Create a caloric deficit

To get rid of body fat, you have to create a caloric deficit. Basically, you have to consume less calories than you’re burning for a sustained period of time.

A standard calculation states that 3500 calories equals a pound of fat, so if you have a deficit of 500 calories a day, you could lose a pound a week. New studies suggest that processes aren’t so simple and that the body is much more dynamic, and adjusts the amount of calories you burn based on several other factors including how much you eat, how active you are, the type of exercise you perform, the amount of stress you’re under and how much quality sleep you are getting. 

2. Don’t obsess about calories

Even though you need to have a caloric deficit, don't stress out about it. Studies show that counting calories raises anxiety and makes your body feel threatened. The stress hormone, cortisol, can increase food intake and primes the body for fat storage.

Another interesting example is how a fixation on calories can backfire when it comes to activity tracking apps or watches. Research shows that people tend to have an unconscious reward system for their calorie burning, and often misjudge how much they are actually burning by using incorrect data being displayed by their activity trackers.

What to do:

Shift your focus from worrying about calories, to managing portion sizes and foods. Be aware of how much you are eating by measuring your food with your hands, and make sure you have the right serving of fats, veggies, protein etc..

Monitor your hunger cues, and understand that not only does hunger come in waves, sometimes it’s a symptom of dehydration. Therefore, have a glass of water and wait 10 minutes. Stop eating when you are about 80 percent full since we know that the body takes about 15 minutes to allow food that you have eaten to register with the brain. It’s not bad to have an activity tracker, but don’t rely on it to tell you when to eat.

3. Replace refined carbs with complex carbs

Refined carbs are not ideal for losing fat. They are stripped of nutrients, high in calories, contain no useful fiber, and have added sugar. They also spike blood sugar leading to cravings as well as increasing the risk of diabetes.

Try save refined carbs for post-workout, where the body will utilise this energy most efficiently, and can be combined with protein to facilitate protein synthesis. You are going to get better results if you eat complex carbs for most of your meals.

4. Include high-quality protein and healthy fat in every meal

It’s important that you shift the focus of meals away from being carb-centric so that you are getting a more balanced intake of macronutrients. High-quality protein should make up at least a third of your plate since the amino acids it contains lead to the release of gut hormones in the GI tract that blunt hunger. Healthy fat and high-fiber vegetables slow digestion, provide nutrition, and make you feel sated.

5. Eat foods that improve insulin sensitivity with higher carb foods

It’s important that you shift the focus of meals away from being carb-centric so that you are getting a more balanced intake of macronutrients. High-quality protein should make up at least a third of your plate since the amino acids it contains lead to the release of gut hormones in the GI tract that blunt hunger. Healthy fat and high-fiber vegetables slow digestion, provide nutrition, and make you feel sated.

Insulin is a hormone that the body releases in order to use glucose for energy. When people are inactive and become overweight, their cells become resistant to insulin and insulin levels remain elevated. In order for the body to use fat for fuel, insulin levels need to decrease.

Certain foods increase insulin sensitivity and improve the body’s ability to store carbs eaten as muscle glycogen, which is the fuel source for the muscles, instead of being stored as fat. These foods work by either improving insulin sensitivity or slowing digestion for a more steady blood sugar response. Spices, vinegars, healthy fats, and acids improve your body’s ability to process high-carb foods. 

Pair high-carb foods with any of the following:

  • Healthy fats, butter, olive oil, coconut oil
  • Acids such as vinegar, lemon or lime
  • Pickled foods such as kim chi, sauerkraut, or pickled ginger
  • Use cinnamon, fenugreek and turmeric to spice foods
  • Pair high-carb and antioxidant-rich foods like oatmeal and blueberries or rice and kale

6. Go for a walk after carb-heavy meals

Getting physical is a key way to lose body fat. One easy way is to walk for 10 minutes after each meal. Diabetics did this in a study and results showed that they had significantly greater improvement in blood sugar levels than a group that walked for 30 minutes all at once. Researchers believe that walking after eating increases your sensitivity to insulin and the body’s ability to metabolise high-carb foods safely.

7. Strength training

Most people believe the best way to lose fat is to do cardio or hit the treadmill. Unfortunately, studies show aerobic-style cardio produces poor return in terms of fat loss because the body adapts quickly. Strength training on the other hand is a better choice because it will improve muscle mass and metabolic rate, while building strength. This training is vital as it promotes an active lifestyle.

8. Use nutrient timing

Nutrient timing is a fancy way of saying you need to strategically plan your eating for the following effects:

  • To minimise hunger (so you create a calorie deficit)
  • Feel energised (so that you have high-quality workouts and stay active throughout the day)
  • Get the best metabolic response (so that your body is able to burn fat efficiently).

We must understand the way certain foods affect us and adjust our meal plan to suit it. Breakfast should be high in protein and contain healthy fat, but lower in carbs in order to set you up for a productive day. Lunch can be heavier on the protein and fat, whereas dinner is a great time to eat higher carb foods.

Post-workout is also a good time to enjoy high-carb foods because your metabolism is elevated and the body will use carbs to replenish muscle glycogen, while lowering cortisol.

Posted August 7, 2019

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