When it comes to “healthy” eating we get bombarded with media articles about the foods that we SHOULD be eating:
“Eat more fish to get your required amount of Omega 3’s”
“You CAN eat butter!”
“How using olive oil can make you slim”
Do these sound familiar?
Whilst I have no problem with the food and lifestyle choices in the headlines, what most of these articles won’t be divulging is that yes, you are able to eat these foods and stay healthy, but if weight loss is your goal those important little guys names “calories” still matter.
It took me a while to get my head around this and it also took a lot of self-experimentation.
First the science bit:
All three of the macro nutrients, Fat, Protein and Carbohydrates have a calorie value:
FAT = 9 calories per gram
PROTEIN = 4 calories per gram
CARBOHYDRATE = 4 calories per gram
So, science says that in order to reduce the amount of calories you are taking in it makes more sense to reduce the amount of fat in your diet right? I mean you can have 2g of Carbohydrate for 1g of fat so you can eat more of the other stuff?
I then learned that you could eat good, healthy fat and you will not gain weight. Mmmmm, how can this be? Fat has more calories than the others, but it must be melting away at a faster rate? Is this the magic potion we have all been waiting for?
So after years of following the “low fat” theory (it’s backed by science of course!) I was glad to be free of this way of life and off I went, eating copious amounts of “good” fat. BUT not in moderation.
The problem is that I have a big appetite and struggle to have that “I am feeling full” notification in my brain until I am at bursting point. So being “allowed” to eat all this fat was an energy balance car crash waiting to happen. And whilst I didn’t put on lots of weight, I did notice a few pounds creep on and I WAS aware of the extra calories I was eating, despite the extra exercise.
A high fat diet is supposed to fill most people up so that they do not over eat their calories, therefore feeling satiated for longer and not feeling the need to snack to fill them us as they would do with the lower carbohydrates diets. And whilst this works for most people, because of my inability to notice when I have had enough, I know that this does not work for me.
This is why we need to be careful when listening to the media, friends, family etc about what has worked for them. We all know that person who lost loads of weight on a certain diet, and it’s tempting to follow suit. But what we don’t know are the struggles they had to get there and also to maintain. It could be that they have found their sweet spot with the healthy lifestyle, or they could be suffering big time and it’s just a matter of time before the weight comes back on.
For me, a diet that is low in carbohydrates, high in fat, calorie modified and regular intermittent fasting works for me. And it has taken years of yo-yo dieting, overeating, starvation and over exercising to find this.