Episode 81 – Nutrition For Fat Loss Part 3

Key Topics Covered

Hunger Management Strategies 

  • One of the things that can make staying consistently in a deficit more difficult.  
  • Sometimes you might not even necessarily identify hunger as a major barrier, but if it could also be a small factor in unintentional snacking, for example.
    1. One obvious way to help with this is to not make the deficit larger than necessary. If you have more calories, you might feel fuller, and also less restricted. 
    2. A second one is keeping protein intake high. 
    3. A third one is to keep fibre intake relatively high. 
    4. A fourth one is the concept of volume eating, which involves eating a larger volume of lower calorie foods. As an example, nobody thinks of vegetables as filling, but per calorie they are super filling. 
Volume Eating

 Thoughts on Sugar 

  • Most people assume sugar will lead to less fat loss than the same amount of a more complex carbohydrate, but the research on the topic shows that it leads to similar results per gram, if calories and protein are kept the same. 
  • This is helpful from a flexibility perspective, since it gives us options. 
  • But from a satiety perspective, we will likely feel fuller per calorie if we limit our added sugar intake. 
  • Sugar makes things taste nicer, which makes it easier to eat more calories than desired too. 
  • Added sugar also does not come alongside any additional micronutrients.  

What to Do if Plateaus Occur 

  • The first thing to understand is WHY plateaus occur. 
  • By definition, if it is a plateau that lasts multiple weeks, you are now consuming maintenance calories. 
  • This could be due to a combination of stuff.
    • Energy expenditure might have dropped due to being smaller, metabolic adaptation or changes in activity.  
    • Energy intake might have increased due to increased hunger, desire for food, or changes in habits. 
  • Based on this, the next step to get through a plateau is either to reduce calorie intake or increase energy expenditure. 
  • Reduced intake could come in the form of either reducing planned calorie intake, or improved consistency with your current plan. 
  • Increased energy expenditure could come in the form of increased exercise, or increased informal movement e.g. more walking. 
  • If neither of those seem realistic for your situation, it might not be a good time to be striving for further fat loss right now. 

Other Tools to Increase Metabolic Rate 

  • There are a few tools such as diet breaks or reverse dieting that can increase total daily energy expenditure. But I have a few thoughts on them. 
  • One is that it takes a bit of time. A couple of days on higher calories is not enough.  
  • That said, the research does show that even as little as one month at maintenance calories, metabolic adaptation is no longer really measurable. 
  • So theoretically you could do an extended diet break at maintenance calories and achieve this result. 
  • Some people propose that reverse dieting and slowly increasing calories over time can build up energy expenditure further, which once again is technically true.  
  • But the research on topic indicates that not long after entering the deficit again, metabolic adaptation returns to similar levels as previously anyway. 
  • Reverse dieting and diet breaks are often better strategies for making it easier to stick to than they are for doing stuff that is relevant for “building your calories up” in a way that is meaningful for future fat loss effects. 
  • Eric Trexler has a great article summarising the research on this topic that will be linked in the show notes for those who are interested. 

Key takeaways from this series 

  • CICO is the basis of nutrition for fat loss – however, this is often thought of as a very simple concept when in fact there are many things that play into it I.e. Hormones 
  • By definition if you are losing weight, you are in a calorie deficit and if your weight is stable outside of regular fluctuations, then you are eating at maintenance calories  
  • Alot of confusion can come from calorie tracking and calorie calculators. Don’t get me wrong, they can be great tools but it is not uncommon to overestimate calorie expenditure and underestimate calorie intake.   
  • Other important tips would be:
    • Utilise hunger managements strategies to your advantage 
    • Think about utilising diet breaks 
    • If you hit a plateau, look at increasing activity and/or decreasing intake or generally look at tightening up compliance  
    • Don’t over think your carb to fat ratio, but focus on getting adequate protein  

Relevant Links/ Resources

Resources/ Studies Mentioned:

Sugar and Fat Loss

Reverse dieting – Hype vs Evidence 

Metabolic Adaptation

Related Blog Posts:

How to Accurately Test and Fix Your Metabolism

Aggressive Dieting: When and Why

3 Ways Dieting Could Be Slowing Your Metabolism