As a bit of a follow up or part 3 of my “the truth about carbs and weight loss” posts, here’s some more stuff I thought of.
Number and frequency of meals each day.
This one is a bit of a grey area in my opinion. In the end, it does all come back to total amount of calories and in theory (depending on who you talk to) it really shouldn’t matter too much if you eat 6 meals a day, 3 meals a day or even just one meal a day – as long as you do not consume more calories than you require. On the other hand though, from my observation most of the people with the biggest weight management problems seem to be the ones who’ll tell you they never eat breakfast, or just have one meal each day.
Without actually stalking someone for 24 hours you can only speculate on how accurate the information they give you is. So, you can only guess that while this person only eats one “meal” a day, perhaps they’re snacking regularly on junk food, having fancy coffees I don’t even know the names of full of cream and sugar, and a few cans of soft drink throughout the day as well. In other words, they’re taking in too many calories, and not getting much nutritional value for those calories.
There’s a theory that by eating more meals you can train your metabolism to run faster and burn off the calories you consume rather than storing them as fat, and conversely by eating fewer meals you train your metabolism to run slower and conserve energy and store it as fat. This seems to make sense to me but it is a hotly debated topic amongst actual nutritionists so I can’t say for certain how true it is. Regardless, if you have a nutrition plan that is based on small, regular meals that add up to the right amount of calories, you’ll be far less likely to resort to unhealthy snacking.
So for this reason I recommend no less than 3 meals a day, ideally with a scheduled snack of fruit, vegetables or a protein source such as tuna or chicken for the non-vegetarians out there in between the main meals. As I said already, having a plan like this stops you from needing that mid afternoon fix of junk food to survive the rest of the work day.
Low fat vs low carb dieting, again.
Even more thoughts on low fat vs low carbohydrate. I think people spend too much time worrying about which approach is better and really just making things too complicated for themselves. Usually it is a moot point because people simply try to “cut out carbs” without paying attention to their overall calorie intake and knowing what amount this should be. Also, they’ll cut out bread because they are carb-phobic, but still snack on chocolate and soft drinks throughout the day!
Unless you are a fitness model or a bodybuilder preparing for a competition it should be sufficient to simply establish a deficit of calories below your maintenance level, and try to get as much protein as possible. It doesn’t have to be much more complicated than this. Having a sandwich for lunch isn’t going to ruin your weight loss efforts just because bread is a source of carbohydrates (although I still recommend you avoid white bread and choose a more nutritious option).
The bottom line.
In the end it all comes down to calories in vs calories out. If you take in more calories than you require, you will get fat. Take in less (but not too much less!), do some exercise and you will lose fat. Make it easy for yourself by learning your requirements and come up with a plan of nutritious foods that you enjoy, and healthy snacks through out the day – you can use my Calorie and Macronutrient Calculator for this, or use any of the other services on the net. You might even find you can get away with a little bit of the “bad” stuff as well.