We're often told that losing weight is a simple mathematical equation of calories in, calories out. Burn more calories than you eat and you’ll lose fat. However, is it really that simple? The truth is that the actual “number” of calories you consume is not the only factor that affects your fat-loss efforts.
In this article, we’ll discuss five other things that should be considered when determining the effect of your diet on your waistline, primarily overlooked fat loss factors. Incorporate this knowledge into your workout and nutrition routines and soon you'll be ripped like Ryan Reynolds — and attracting looks from fitness babes like Amy Weber and Jamie Eason for it.
1. The Thermic Effect of the Food You Eat
The thermic effect of food (TEF) measures the amount of energy that is required to support the processes of digesting, absorbing and assimilating food nutrients as well as the energy expended as a result of the central nervous system's stimulatory effect on metabolism when food is ingested. Of the three macronutrients, protein carries the highest thermic effect. Eat more protein; burn more calories.
2. The Fiber Content of the Food You Eat
Due to its chemical makeup, fiber is classified as a carbohydrate; however, it is unlike other carbohydrates in that it is an indigestible nutrient. Even though each gram of fiber contains four calories, these calories will remain undigested and will not be absorbed. Therefore, if you were to consume 300 calories of red beans (a food in which nearly 1/3 of the caloric content is from fiber), approximately 100 of these calories would pass through your intestinal tract undigested.
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3. The Glycemic and Insulin Indices of the Food You Eat
The glycemic and insulin indices are scaled numbers that refer to how quickly a particular carbohydrate source enters the bloodstream as sugar and how much insulin is needed to rid that sugar from the bloodstream, respectively. Generally speaking, there is a positive relationship between the two; the quicker sugar enters the bloodstream, the more insulin is needed to rid that sugar from the bloodstream. When high levels of insulin are present within the blood, fat burning is brought to a screeching halt, which is anything but desirable for those whose goal it is to obtain a lean, muscular physique. Don't let this be an overlooked fat loss factor.
4. The Different Macronutrients Present in the Food You Eat
Although insulin's primary function is to shuttle glucose (sugar) into skeletal muscle, it also carries many other nutrients to their respective storage sites — this includes lipids (fat). Since carbohydrate ingestion stimulates a large insulin response and fat ingestion gives rise to blood lipid levels, when the two are consumed together, they promote the greatest fat storage.
5. The Size, Frequency and Time of the Meals You Eat
Large, infrequent meals tend to promote storage of the ingested nutrients, as the body is unsure as to when the next feeding will take place. Conversely, consuming smaller, more frequent meals will result in an increase in metabolism and utilization of the ingested nutrients. Also, ingesting a large amount of carbohydrates before bed spikes insulin, deters nocturnal thermogenesis and increases fat storage during sleep. On the contrary, consuming a great deal of calories early in the day does not bring about this problem; rather, these calories are likely to be used as energy to support daily activities.
Fight the Fat
As you can see, someone could be eating a relatively small amount of calories daily, but at the same time be promoting a great deal of fat storage by: 1) Making poor food choices; 2) Combining macronutrients in a nonproductive fashion and; 3) Consuming food infrequently and at inopportune times. To illustrate this further, let's take a look at a recent study that analyzed the diets of 38 police officers. This study discovered that although the officers were consuming a hypocaloric diet (fewer calories than they burn), they all had unhealthy levels of body fat and had been gaining fat mass over the past five years. If all you had to do to lose fat was consume fewer calories than you burned, then these individuals would be losing fat, not gaining it.
To confirm the importance of the factors that I previously mentioned, let's take a look at some of the other things this study noted:
— Only 15 percent of their diet consisted of protein, the macronutrient with the greatest TEF.
— Their diet contained very little fiber.
— Over 50 percent of their carbohydrate intake was derived from simple sugars, which have very high glycemic and insulin indices.
— They didn't note this, but I'm willing to bet that they didn't avoid the fat-carb combo.
— They ate infrequently — only 10 percent of their caloric intake was consumed at breakfast and over 50 percent was consumed right before bed.
By now, it should be obvious that fat loss isn't just a matter of calories in, calories out. And while it’s a little more complex than that, you can easily use the tips in this article to ensure you’re getting the most from your dieting efforts.