I wanted to share a story with you today about something that came up yesterday during a talk I was having with a personal training client in my Charleston studio. We were reviewing his diet and something he said really made me stop and think.
His comment, which Iâ€™ll share with you in a second, made me realize just how much misinformation there is out there about the best way to eat for fat loss. Before I get into the discussion I had with my client I want to make sure I clearly explain one thing…
Eating â€śhealthyâ€ť and eating for fat lossÂ are NOT necessarily the same thing!
My expertise revolves around fat loss but I would neverÂ advocate any approach to manipulating your diet that wouldnâ€™t be â€śhealthy.â€ť But as youâ€™ll see here in aÂ secondÂ thereâ€™s some perceived â€śhealthyâ€ť ways of eating that donâ€™t necessarily support fat loss.
When it comes to weight loss you donâ€™t need me wasting your time by giving you the obvious recommendations like eating more fruits and vegetables. Who doesnâ€™t already know that? But hereâ€™s something you might not know.
If you fruits and vegetables in conjunction with other natural, whole foods like lean proteins, nuts, seeds, omega-3 fats, etc there would never be an issue. After all nobody got fat from eating oranges right?
But here’s the thing, the majority of people don’t follow this kind of a diet- although they should.
The typical American diet has lots of starch and sugar from processed and refined foods. Adding fruit on top of all this doesn’t wash everything out and clear the slate. You’re only adding MORE sugar to an already saturated body.
Back to my client….
He informed me that he was eating a piece of fruit several times a day for snacks, normally an apple or an orange, and thought he was on point with everything.
He was surprised when I told him thisÂ was NOTÂ ideal…
Not a good idea? How could that be? Eating fruit has got to be healthy! Yes, but as I had to calmly remind my client, â€śyourÂ goal isÂ lose fat, right?â€ť Is your way working or not?
Hereâ€™s the scoop on what was happening to my client and the lesson on how to avoid the same mistake. My client was eating fruit 4-5 times a day along withÂ a diet high in grains and other starches.
In short, he wasn’t just eating fruits and vegetables…he was eating fruit with a ton of other starches from grains (bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, etc) and very little protein.
I don’t recommend youÂ do thisÂ when trying to lose body fat. Why? Because of one simple reasonâ€¦.elevated blood sugar levels.
If you want to optimize the fat burning zone for your body you MUST lower blood sugar levels. Your body will see no need to tap into stored body fat for fuel, unless you give it a reason to through lower blood sugar.
Think about it. You never need to tap into a reserve if thereâ€™s always energy available from the foods youâ€™re eating.
Make no mistake about it. Sugar is the enemy to fat loss…
This doesnâ€™t get near enough discussion but sugar is the real culprit in weight gain. When it comes to the hormonal balances required to enter into a fat loss state your body needs to have low glycogen levels. If not there’s plenty of available energy for the cells without turning to fat.
Just so we’re on the same page, don’t be mistaken, all sugars are not treated equal by your body. When you eat fruit (fructose) and vegetables (glucose) you’re consuming monosaccharides (simple sugars) which your body can easily and readily use for energy production.
We’re designed to fuel off these foods. It’s basically carbon and water, very simple, the basic elements of nutrition ready to use without much energy expended for digestion or assimilation.
Compare this to regular sugar (sucrose) and starches which are disaccharides and poly-saccharides respectfully. This just means they have more strands of sugar molecules strung together. Think of it as “much or many” sugars because that’s what it really is.
Your body has to do more work to break these sugars down resulting in an acidic state and too much sugar hitting the bloodstream.
With a diet heavy in sugars and starches over time the cell receptors stop receiving insulin – which carries the sugar- resulting in insulin resistance. This is more common today than ever before because of the modern diet and the reason why metabolic X syndrome and type II diabetes are on the steady increase.
The problem with eating lots of starches and putting fruits on top…
EatingÂ a lot of even so called “healthy” carbs like whole grains doesn’t work very well forÂ fat lossÂ because of the impact it will have on insulin levels. AÂ simple alternative is to eat several servings ofÂ fruit each day along with lean protein, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and omega-3 fats.
This is called a Primal Blueprint diet and it’s the principal way I teach all my clients to eat. It’s really not a diet but rather a way of eating. You simply don’t need all the starches if you fuel your body with the foods we were designed to eat.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had optimal health and thrived on natural foods before the introduction of the agricultural revolution.
Your body LOVES fruits and vegetables….just not fruits piled onto a system already over-flowing with sugar due to excess starch consumption.
Most people though eat far too many carbohydrates and wonder why their not burning fat. Remember, you need to change your way of thinking from just eating â€śhealthyâ€ť to eating for fat loss.
If you were working outside farming or doing some other manual labor then your body could certainly burn off the sugars from starches and you’d do fine. But how many of us are doing that? No we’re sitting on our butts behind computer screens thinking we need all this energy from starch. We simply don’t, plain and simple.
The sad truth is most people have become addicted to sugar and if you even mention pulling out bread, potatoes, rice, and the like they’ll throw a fit like a baby who’s lost it’s nippie.
Hereâ€™s a typical mistake I see being made all the time…
Letâ€™s say you go have a 6â€ťÂ turkey on wheatÂ and fruit cup from Subway. Sounds like a “healthy” choice right? Well let’s look closer…
Ideally if you were looking to ramp up fat loss you’d want to keep your carbs to 1oo grams or less per day. When you eat a 6â€ť subway turkey on whole wheat you take in 47 grams of carbs all by itself!
You think since youâ€™reÂ eating â€śhealthyâ€ťÂ it’s gotÂ to be ok toÂ throw in that fruit cup.Â The next thing you know youâ€™re at 70+ grams of carbs!
Oopsâ€¦you can forget about getting into the fat loss zone on this day, especially when the rest of the diet probably contained grains and other starches.
Do you see how it can be so misleading? Itâ€™s not just about whether or not something is perceived â€śhealthyâ€ť but more importantly if the ratio of carbs is correct so you can achieve the necessary hormonal balances for fat loss?
Hereâ€™s a quick summary and the bottom line.
1. Â If fat loss is your objective look to eat EXCLUSIVELY from fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, etc following a Primal Blueprint diet. Avoid the starches and processed sugars until you get leaner and your metabolism can burn up the extra fuel.
2. All sugar is not treated the same in your body.Â While an apple has approximately 15 grams of sugar which is about the same as the regular size (32 g) Snickers Bar, they’re no where near the same. The reason is your body can use the fruit sugar (fructose) almost immediately through diffusion right into the cells. This aint happening with the sucrose from the candy bar.
At the end of the day you’ll have to ask yourself, did I take in more energy (from carbs) than my body needed? Did my body have a need to access stored fat for fuel, yes or no?
If you’re loading fruit on top of a bunch of starches I can assure you the answer is NO!
So you’ve to two choices….either live in fantasy land and keep telling yourself that you’re eating healthy, but can’t understand why you’re not losing weight, or dump the starches and eat fruits in part of a Primal Blueprint diet.
If you would eat nothing but fruit and vegetables I can assure you that you’d lose a lot of weight. I’m actually all for this for short term detoxification and cellular regeneration.
Individuals like Robert Morse N.D (author or the Detox Miracle Sourcebook), have demonstrated the amazing healing powers of a raw food diet and I can’t argue with the benefits.
I tend to follow more of a Primal Blueprint diet as I’m just not willing to give up the lean proteins. I highly recommend you read Mark Sisson’s the Primal Blueprint Diet as it will absolutely change the way you look at your diet. Click on the link above to go to his website.
So there it is…are fruits good for fat loss? Yes, absolutely if eaten without a bunch of other starches and refined sugars. People with faster metabolisms can get away with eating a couple servings of fruit per day with starches but the average overweight individual simply cannot.
It’s either starve yourself on low-calorie processed and refined foods (and get nowhere) or eat a plentiful diet of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats (and lose fat naturally). The choice is yours.
For more information on what exactly to eat to most effectively lose body fat download my FREE e-book entitled the “Lean Code Method Grocery Shopping List Guide.”
Shane Doll is a Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. You can receive a FREE no-obligations trial of his Charleston personal training programs and experience the Shaping Concepts difference for yourself.