While the term weight loss gets thrown around a lot, what we should actually be aiming for is fat loss. Striving for fat loss allows you to maintain muscle mass and thus maintain your performance while losing weight. No matter who you are – general gym goer, professional team sport athlete or an individual competing in a weight making sport, if you are wanting to reduce weight, fat loss is the key to optimising your muscle strength and power while losing those last few kilograms.
When it comes to fat loss there are 5 key nutrition pillars to consider! Read on to find out about the types of food you should be including in your diet.
Protein is the number one nutrient when it comes to fat loss and there are a few reasons why this is the case. Protein keeps you satiated (the feeling of fullness) after your meals and as a result this can help you stick to your nutrition plan. Protein is the main nutrient involved in gaining and maintaining lean muscle mass. When consumed, protein is broken down into amino acids which help trigger the growth and maintenance (or synthesis) of our muscles. Interestingly, the act of digesting the food we eat actually burns energy – this is called the thermic effect of food. Protein in particular has what is called a high thermic effect of food. Of all the macronutrients, protein requires the most amount of energy to break itself down into amino acids compared to the process which converts carbohydrate into glucose, or fat into fatty acids and glycerol.
#2 All the Colours
Eating the rainbow is not only important for micronutrient adequacy and gut health, but fruits and vegetables are also key in the fat loss process. Fruits and vegetables generally have a high water and fibre content. This means they are often low in overall energy, or have a low energy density. This allows you to consume large volumes without consuming a large number of calories, and can be a very helpful strategy when trying to lose body fat or weight maintenance
Did you know…only 8% of Australians eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables each day? For our overall health and wellbeing, we should be aiming for 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables a day. One serve of fruit is 150g which is equivalent to one medium apple or 2 small plums. One serve of vegetables is 75g or equivalent to 1 cup of raw salad vegetables or 1/2 cup cooked vegetables.
Fibre is another really important nutrient when it comes to fat loss. Similar to protein, fibre also helps keep you full and satisfied after your meals. Fibre also adds bulk to your meals and as a result can help us to feel full following a meal. It is through both of these mechanisms that fibre helps to reduce our overall intake without leaving you feeling hungry.
#4 Healthy fats
Can eating fat help you lose fat? Yes! Firstly, we are of course wanting you to focus on healthy fats – your mono- and poly- unsaturated ones. These are found in foods such as avocado, nuts, seeds, oily fish and extra virgin olive oil. Healthy fats, also help keep you feeling full between meals and also slow the digestion rate of a meal, helping to keep blood sugar levels more consistent. Fat can help to reduce your overall intake since you won’t be left hungry and overeat at your next meal. It is important to note that when consuming, healthy portion sizes matter. This is because fats contain double the energy value of protein and carbohydrate per gram. So while fats can help to keep you full, be mindful not to over-consume.
Last but certainly not least is our hydration status. This point is often forgotten about and overlooked but it is important to realise that hydration plays an important role in fat loss. Our bodies are about 60% water, meaning our hydration status can literally impact every single cellular function in our body. Dehydration can also be mistaken for hunger which can lead to overeating. A handy tip when you’re hungry is to try having a glass of water and then waiting 10 or 15 mins. If you’re still hungry then go ahead and have something to eat. If not, it’s likely you were just dehydrated. Drinking water with your meals can also help to fill you up and decrease your overall intake.
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