We have all seen the “miracle” exercise programs that deceptively promise customers Hercules like results in just minutes a day. And in the world of food and supplement marketing we get just as many empty promises for “miricale” fat loss pills, supplements or foods (ex: hydroxycut, acai berry).
No matter how much we wish it were true, there just isn’t a magical food that will melt unwanted fat off our stomachs. But, the quality of your overall diet is essential to achieving optimum health along with weight loss. And, believe it or not diet will make or break your fitness ability.
So, the question becomes. “What can we do to support fat loss and improve overall fitness?”
1.) Cut out starches and sugars. This will have a drastic effect on the amount of calories you consume often lowering tem by a third. Nearly every piece of research done shows that eating habits are the number one determinant of weight loss. In other words, these studies show that physical exercise only results in fat weight loss when calories are not reduced.
As we have already said in other articles when you need to limiting your calorie intake, we recommend that the calories you focus on reducing are the starches and sugars. When researchers look at diets that are higher in fat, protein and lower in carbs in comparison to the lower fat higher carb counterparts the higher fat & protein, and lower carb diets not only result in more fat loss, but also in reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
It has also been show that limiting your intake of sugars is critically to your health. These studies show that higher glycemic index foods (starches/sweets) lead to increased appetite and calorie intake, and may even end up lowering metabolic rate.
One interesting finding in this research is that fructose, a sugar derived fruit juice, is correlated to increased appetite and excess weight gain. These studies have shown that optimum fat loss, and hormonal optimization are achieved with only about 25-35% of your calories from carbohydrates. So if you consume 2000 calories only 500-700 calories from carbohydrates which is between 125-175 grams.
2.) Consume enough potassium. Most people don’t know this but potassium actually preserves muscle, which is essential as our Life Hormone levels start declining as we age. A recent study discovered that when people consumed 3,54- mg of potassium on a daily basis they were able to preserve more than 4 pounds of lean muscle throughout a 3 year period when compared to subjects who consumed half the amount of potassium. This is more than enough to offset the age related muscle decline we see diagnosed as sarcopenia. The extra potassium also helps us maintain the muscle we try to build during our workouts.
The best sources of potassium are fruits and vegetables. One half cup of green beans contains around 500 mg potassium. 1 cup fruits and vegetables will average between 400-500 mg. So, to get your intake up to adequate levels make sure you consume 5 cups of vegetables, 1 cup of fruit, and ½ cup of beans.
3.) Consume adequate levels of protein. This will help provide your body with the amino acids that are necessary to repair and maintain cells, especially muscle. Intense exercise, especially strength training produces micro-tears in muscle fibers, and the more training you do, the more amino acids (aka protein) your body needs to build and recover.
Even if you don’t work out intensely, you should still consume plenty of protein, and that is hunger control. Research shows that diets higher in protein content increase satiety, thus decreasing calorie intake, and boosting fat loss than a lower protein diet. We recommend consuming around 30% of your calories from protein. To achieve this, just focus on eating whole natural food especially meat, eggs, dairy, nuts, and a copious amount of vegetables.
It is important to take note that it isn’t nearly as much about the amount of food you eat, but the quality of the food you are eating. The wrong foods can have devastating effects on your fat loss goals, muscle retention, and overall fitness level.
Remember, Aging is Inevitable, but Looking and feeling old is Optional