In order to avoid the constant over eating, under eating diet strategy that most employ to varying degrees year round, there are a few things you need to know in order to alter your lifestyle in order to make the permanent changes that will support a high level of fitness and health. Avoid applying a caloric deficit approach to fat loss in favor of a lifestyle where you consume a macro-nutrient profile that supports hormone and chemical transmitter response in the body. By doing so you can achieve optimal body fat and muscle mass levels. Eating more protein and fewer carbs you will increase your metabolism, elevate hormone levels that keep your appetite in check, and help you feel physically and mentally well-adjusted. .
If you take in too much energy every day, you will get fat, that’s a given. Having said that, not all calories are not created equal when you are dealing with energy intake. As I alluded to, macro-nutrient ratios will determine hormone response. Carbohydrates like sugar, bread, and grains all raise the hormone insulin, which when elevated will lead to fat gain. High insulin levels also drive up the hormone cortisol, which tells the body to store energy as fat. Carbs drive insulin, which drives fat storage and sleepiness, while protein drives wakefulness and fat for use as fuel.
When you use a caloric deficit approach to fat loss it puts the body into a fat conservation state, and slows metabolism to compensate. This is one of the reasons why most regain all of the weight they lost after ending a calorie-restricted diet, as they’ve altered their metabolism for the long-term.
A recent study showed the limits and flaws of the calorie approach to weight loss for a long-term healthy lifestyle. A 10-week calorie restricted diet produced weight loss but also resulted in severely altered hormone levels that regulate hunger and fat storage. Leptin, a hormone that suppresses hunger was reduced, whereas ghrelin and gastric inhibitory polypeptide, which promote fat storage and stimulate hunger, were elevated for at least a year after then end of the 10-week diet!
The thermic effect of food also varies greatly. This is the amount of calories required for the body to break down and send different food particles and their nutrients where they are needed. Protein requires many more calories to process than do carbs or fats, and nearly all the protein you eat will be used to rebuild tissue and increase muscle mass in the body. The more muscle mass we possess, the more calories we use, they less fat we put on. There is something to be said for building muscle as an approach for long-term fat management.