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January 23, 2011

Metabolic Effect: Healthy Diet vs. Fat Loss Diet

Very rarely do I have a client come to me and say that they eat like crap.  In fact, surprisingly, up to two-thirds of people say that they eat “fairly healthy” or “very healthy” and yet two-thirds of the American population is overweight or obese.  What gives?

One of the tenants of Metabolic Effect is that “a healthy diet is not necessarily a fat loss diet, but a fat loss diet is almost always a healthy diet” and we couldn’t agree more.   Just because you are eating healthy does not mean you are going to burn fat or lose weight—life is cruel, isn’t it??  :)  The truth is that many foods are healthy in terms of supplying key vitamins, minerals, nutrients and fiber, but do nothing to burn fat and might even make you gain weight.

It is important to note that some people can lose fat while incorporating these “healthy” foods, but for many, they may be the culprits that keep them from their fat loss goals.  Certain foods that fall into this category include whole grains, high sweet fruits, nuts, soy products, dairy, zero-calorie sweeteners, some protein powders and red wine.

Physique athletes like bodybuilders and figure/fitness competitors know this from their experience—you will very rarely find a competitor who includes nuts, dairy or fruit in their last 4-6 weeks of prep.  And remember, it is not that these foods are unhealthy and certainly should be cut completely out of a general nutrition plan, but for people who are struggling with fat loss results, it might be time to consider reducing one or more of these foods to see what happens.

It is also important to remember that on the flip side, eating a strictly fat loss plan can be done detrimentally and very unhealthy too—ask any competitor who has experienced a diet consisting of mostly protein bars, shakes, sugar-free items, supplements, etc.  Sometimes competitors drop their carbs so low that going #2 becomes an issue and they have to remedy this with fiber tabs and fiber supplements—hello—not healthy and not normal.  Extreme diets that restrict vitamins, minerals and fiber lead to all sort of other problems like acne, hair loss, joint pain, fatigue, sleep issues, mood swings, irritability, digestive upset, brain fog, etc.  Be aware to choose real foods over “fake” foods and usually this potential problem takes care of itself.

The good news is that there are plenty of “real” foods that are both healthy in that they provide adequate vitamins and minerals, as well as facilitate fat loss.  Here are some great options for proteins, carbohydrates and miscellaneous foods that are both:

Fat Loss, Healthy Protein Choices:

  • Chicken breasts or ground chicken
  • Turkey breasts or lean ground turkey
  • Salmon
  • White fishes
  • Shrimp
  • Egg whites
  • Bison (filets, ground, etc)
    Grass-fed beef (filets, lean cuts, ground, etc)
  • Pork chops
  • Game meats like elk, venison, etc
  • Select protein powders—try egg white, rice, pea or hemp powder and monitor how you respond

Fat Loss, Healthy Carbohydrate Choices:

  • All fibrous veggies: mixed greens, spinach, kale, collards, romaine, broccoli, asparagus, onions, peppers, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, artichokes, green beans, garlic, cabbage, celery, cucumbers, mushrooms, etc.
  • Low glycemic index fruits: apples, pears, grapefruits, all berries, etc
  • Clean starches: sweet potatoes, oat bran, brown rice, quinoa, steel-cut oats
  • Starchy veggies: squash, zucchini, egg plant, carrots, turnips, beets, pumpkin, etc.

Miscellaneous Fat Loss, Healthy Foods:

  • Unsweetened almond milk
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Herbal and green teas
  • Salsa (low sodium, <200mg/serving)
  • Mustard (low sodium, <200mg/serving)
  • Alternative sweeteners like xylitol, erythritol, stevia, etc.

Want some additional info on living the fat-loss lifestyle?  Jade Teta and Keoni Teta’s book “The Metabolic Effect Diet” is being released this Tuesday January 25thorder early on to get the full story on eating and exercise for fat loss.  Food and exercise are information for the body—telling it to burn fat or store fat—what messages are you sending?

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