Happy day to you, and welcome back to the Fat Loss Facts of life. I’ll be your host as usual, as I continue to guide you through the ins and outs of the guidelines I would use if I were setting up a diet for you. Having the skills yourself just makes it that much more likely that your past fat loss attempts will turn into future fat loss success. It’s tough to be good at anything when you are just guessing your way through the process, and I want you to be good at all that you do. In regards to fat loss – I’d be very happy if as a result of this series, you who read and employ the strategies discussed here are able to reach goals you may have thought before to be impossible. I aim to give you all the tools that you’ll need to go further than you ever have, so if you’re ready – let’s get started.
To summarize our progress up to this point; Part 1 was focused on creating a caloric deficit, and the methods to use in order to accomplish that. Part 2 explained how to estimate the starting point of the diet regarding calories, in order to create a deficit. Part 3 was about the value of protein, and the method of calculating how much to include in the diet under the established caloric parameters, so that fat loss can begin. If you missed any of the articles please start the series at the beginning, because starting part way through defeats the purpose of this process. The point of this series is so that you know what to do, and why. Short-cutting the learning process is not the way to be successful at anything, and fat loss is no exception.
Today I will be addressing how much dietary fat is needed, or is an ideal starting amount to include within our diet structure. The easy solution would be to simply eliminate all the fats, and watch the pounds just melt away. That will work in theory, but there is an actual need for essential fatty acids in our diet. This isn’t a post on essential fatty acids (you can count on one at some point in the near future), so I’m not going to go into much depth, but there are two types of essential fatty acids needed for humans – alpha-linoleic acid (an Omega-3 fatty acid), and linoleic acid (an Omega-6 fatty acid). These effect everything from regulating cellular functions, to our mood. The point being that they are essential, and therefore fats must be part of our fat loss plan.
There is another very good reason that I want to offer you for including a certain amount of dietary fat in a successful fat loss plan – adherence. This is going to sound obvious, but diets are a lot more effective if people actually stick to them. What does this have to do with dietary fat intake? If you read my post The Low Fat 80’s, in the article I explain what happens when you go low-fat as well as many other interesting training related oddities of that decade.
Fat definitely can help us stay on a diet for several reasons. For one – non fat foods are pretty limited in number, and for two – they’re not exactly satisfying either. I can eat as much zero fat yogurt as I want and not feel full, but one tub of full fat and I’m ok for a while. So zero fat diets are impossibly limiting, and totally unsatisfying. That right there is a recipe for not staying on a diet, so those alone are two important reasons to include fats in our fat loss plan.
Another very important benefit to including fat in a fat loss plan is that fats blunt hunger for longer periods of time than protein. This is something that needs to be considered, as it’s between meals that most ‘cheating’ occurs. Protein is great for immediately blunting hunger, but dietary fats are very good at keeping us feeling full between meals. That’s a pretty effective one – two punch.
The reason that fats make us feel fuller, longer, is because for one reason fats slow gastric emptying. In other words, meals that include fats take longer to digest. Conversely, low-fat meals digest very rapidly, which leads to feelings of hunger due to the quick drop in blood glucose levels. Meals with a moderate amount of fat have been shown to aid in the stabilizing of blood glucose levels. Moderate, for the example that I’m continuing with from the previous series (our 150 pound average subject), is 10 grams of fat per meal.
So how does this information work into our equation that we have come up with so far? Well, the number I like to start at regarding fats is around .33 grams of fat per pound of body weight in order to keep us feeling satiated between meals – which is important if we are going to stay on this diet. So continuing on with our 150 pound person as our example this means we are at 49.5 grams of fat (150 x .33). That means five meals with roughly 10 grams of fat per meal, which explains how I arrived at the moderate amount of 10 grams of fat per meal.
That 49.5 grams of fat equals 446 (rounding up) calories from fats. Add that number to the 900 calories that are alloted to the 225 grams of protein per day, and we are at a total of 1346 calories per day so far. If we use the formula to calculate the starting point for our 150 pound example, which means they would be consuming between 1650 and 1950 calories daily (see the formula in Part 2), meaning that there are between 304 – 604 calories left over for carbohydrate, right? Well, not exactly – but that’s as far as I’m going to take you today.
There is more to consider in our equation, as these numbers are a great starting point, but alone don’t tell the whole story – especially regarding what should be done with those remaining calories. Not to mention – you didn’t think I was going to do a five-part series (at least) and not talk about the reasons why I have arrived at this equation, did you? For now, if you have been following along, you have another number to plug into the equation.