I've clearly stated in previous posts that I prefer the low carb, fat and protein based diet. However, that doesn't mean I haven't tried the other way around and seen success. I've tried nearly every method of dieting out there at least once. It ultimately boils down to what works for you, and I'm going to discuss three different diets here in this post. For the sake of being a good sport about it, let's discuss the low fat diet first.
LOW FAT, HIGH CARBS
However, a few diet protocols have got it more right than most. Most of them involve harnessing the power of The Glycemic Index. As I explained yesterday, The Glycemic Index (going to abbreviate this as G.I. for the rest of this post) is a scale of how different foods affect your blood sugar levels. In most cases, the lower the number, the better it is. This isn't a gimmick like many diets are trying to offer. The index is scientific fact. Less blood sugar and insulin spiking results in less fat storage. Combine this with a proper calorie deficit and some exercise, voila! Weight loss.
Nearly all worthwhile G.I. based diets have similar qualities. They ask the person to keep carbs moderate to high, yet low on the G.I. scale. They ask the person to keep protein high and fat low. They subscribe to the carbs as fuel method, and for how these diets are laid out, that's pretty much fine. With these diets, when done correctly, you should be able to maintain a fair amount of your lean muscle mass while simultaneously emptying out some of your fat stores. As with all diets I'm listing here, if you're interested in knowing more or having me set up something for you, contact me HERE.
So there's option one, and the option the majority of health conscious Americans choose as their method of choice for dieting. Now it's time to move on to a few less publicized, and in many cases, more powerful dieting options.
I'm not going to spend a huge amount of time discussing this diet for one main reason. The reason is it's very confusing to most people. Some big time trainers (not naming names) have articles on their website talking about how easy this kind of diet is. So easy in fact, you have to buy an entire book they wrote on the subject so you can harness it's power. That doesn't fit the definition of "easy" to me.
I'm clearly not opposed to buying books on these subjects, but in my opinion, this is the easiest type of diet to get wrong if you want to see maximum results. The ratio of carbs, fat and protein changes on a daily basis, and there's a great deal of micromanaging involved in the day to day aspects of this kind of diet, especially if you're preparing for some kind of contest or event. However, it's very powerful as a fat loss and muscle building agent which is the reason why I'm including it in the 3 options of diets in this post.
A quality carb cycle will be very different for every type of training client, and if it's something you're interested in discussing further, feel free to contact me about having me help you set up this kind of diet.
Next on our list is what I consider to be the most effective style of dieting there is, while simultaneously being the most shunned and misunderstood of the group...
ULTRA LOW CARB
"What's that, Mr. Personal Trainer?"... You read right, I eat bacon. I eat whole eggs. I eat chicken wings with ranch dressing. What don't I eat? Carbs. And I don't just mean I don't eat bread. I'm telling you on an average day, I eat 15-20 grams of carbs or less. Why? Well, a few reasons. The first reason is the human body doesn't actually need them to survive no matter what you've been told. The next reason is when you keep your carb count that low, your body becomes a fat burning machine, and in conjunction with proper intake of protein, you lose very little muscle mass.
Fat loss. Not weight loss. The two are very different things. On most traditional diets, you lose weight. "Weight" means fat and muscle. You count your calories (of which most come from carb sources), do all the cardio you've read was great for you, half heartedly lift some weights and you see the number on the scale change to something lower. This is weight loss. Unless you're a trainer like me, have a good trainer, or are very knowledgable on the subject, you see this as a positive sign. And it very well may be if you're dedicated to your cause. There are plenty of people out there who have used the first 2 diets listed, as well as others, and are in great health and carry a preferable amount of lean body mass (muscle).
However, there are ways to take chance out of the equation, and in turn, achieve true fat loss. When you switch your body over to a fat metabolism by incorporating a diet extremely low in carbs but very high in fat and protein, like our hunter-gatherer ancestors, the fuel source it will use as long as it's there is fat. There are a few cultures still roaming the planet who use these methods, and are the pinnacle of health. A very interesting article about the Inuit people can be found HERE.
Ultra low-carb (ULC from here on out) people are generally a much healthier sort for a few main reasons. ULC people tend to eat less, which in scientific research, generally leads to longer life as opposed to people who overindulge too frequently. This has a lot to do with fat being a lot more powerful in satiating hunger than carbohydrates. Another reason ULC is healthy is because of the aforementioned muscle sparing qualities of the diet. The more muscle you have, the more calories your metabolism burns at rest, which makes it easier to lose weight and keep it off. People with a generous amount of muscle and a less generous amount of body fat are healthier as a whole and develop disease less frequently than our less muscular counterparts.
Another beautiful thing about ULC is the ability once or twice a week to eat whatever you want, whether it be pizza or donuts (see: high glycemic carbs), and not only not gain fat, but in many instances to ramp up fat burning. I'm aware it sounds too good to be true, but strategically timed carbs will only assist in fueling and building your muscles and turning your metabolism into a jet engine while almost completely avoiding the fat cells. It works this way because you haven't punished your pancreas like I spoke of yesterday, and your body is wholly adapted to using the fat in the junk food as it's primary source of fuel, while using the carbs to store as fuel in your muscle tissue instead of your fat cells.
There are several ULC methods out there, all of which I believe to be a very high quality, but I also think there is one that is better suited to each individual person on a case by case basis. Once again, if you're interested in knowing more, contact me HERE.