Metabolism is the result of all your cellular and hormonal activity to achieve homeostasis – that point of equilibrium where your body is in balance while being maintained. Your neither gaining weight nor losing weight when homeostasis is achieved.
When all of your biological mechanisms are working together in a synergistic manner, your metabolism will be optimum. If you’re continually starving yourself while calories to diet or eating far too much – and putting on body fat – your body is working to achieve homeostasis.
Eat too much, too often, and your body raises metabolism to deal with the increased energy supply. Eat too little, for too long, and the metabolism will decline to counter the effects of a lesser energy supply and conserve energy for the body’s most important functions.
Our bodies self-sustaining metabolic functions are brilliantly crafted. If you’re looking for proof that God exists, you need look no further.
In Part XIII of our series on metabolism, we debunk yet another myth that keeps people from attaining their fitness goals. Let’s set the records straight and get you focused on what works for losing weight.
Myth 8: Eating too much fat makes you fat
Fat doesn’t make you fat. Eating too many calories makes you fat. In fact, if you keep calories under control and eat more fat, you’ll likely see far better results in your fat loss journey.
“But what if I took this to an extreme and ate ice-cream and Twinkies all day long. Surely I would get fat?”
Well..no. Actually, you would not. You would definitely lose muscle as a result of not getting enough protein and you’d look soft, but believe it or not – you would lose weight – if you maintained a caloric deficit.
Total calories trumps all else when trying to lose weight.
Even when macro-nutrient ratios (proteins, carbs and fats) were examined in a controlled study, it was found that an over-abundance of fat does not equate to more body fat.
Your first priority in losing weight should be in determining how many calories a day your body requires. As your weight drops, you’ll need to reduce this number. This number is known as your TDEE or Total Daily Energy Expenditure.
TDEE takes your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR – the amount of calories required to sustain your current weight with no exercise) and adds in a daily activity factor. If you engage in a lot of physical daily activity, you’ll burn more calories and have a higher TDEE. If you perform little physical activity every day, your TDEE will be closer to your BMR.
Calculate your TDEE and start with this number when trying to lose weight.
If you have yet to have a Eureka! moment regarding what you can eat while dieting, you should be having one now. You can vary your foods, enjoying plenty of desserts and sweets and still lose weight, so long as you don’t exceed your TDEE.
Conversely, if you decide to eat only chicken breasts and broccoli, believing these to be the healthiest of foods, you’ll still gain weight – and even fat – if you eat over your TDEE.
The Disadvantage of a High-Fat Diet
A good diet consists of all three macros. Eat a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat to achieve optimal results.
While fat doesn’t make you fat, it does tend to lead to obesity and that’s because individuals tend to over-consume calories. If you’re eating more than your body requires, you can be certain that the extra fat in your diet is going to end up being stored in your love handles.
People frequently overeat fat, which leads to obesity, since fat has more calories per gram. Protein and carbohydrates contain four calories per gram and fat contains nine calories per gram.
Fat also affects the hormone known as ghrelin. This recently discovered hormone has made a lot of headlines in the last couple decades and for good reason – high levels of ghrelin make you hungrier. Ghrelin levels immediately decrease after eating but go too long without eating and they’re soaring again. Unfortunately, fat has the least impact on ghrelin while carbohydrates and protein do a far better job of suppressing it.
In short – eating less fat helps you control your appetite. Try to get around 20-25% of your total daily caloric intake from fat. If you’re TDEE is 2,000 calories a day, that means you’ll need around 400 to 500 fat calories every day. That’s 44 to 56 grams of fat (divide calories by 9 grams).
Don’t go to low on fat either. It’s of huge importance in achieving your fitness goals. Stay away from trans-fats (check those labels) and eat more good fats, such as monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3s. These fats help to fight fatigue, stave off illness, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke and manage your mood by positively influencing your hormones.
Fat is your friend – just don’t overdo it. Eating the exact amount of macro-nutrients does not influence fat loss to a great degree. Eating the appropriate amount of calories is the secret to losing weight and keeping your metabolism humming along.