Hello Fat Loss Facts fans, and welcome back to the series that guarantees you results. I’m saying in definitive terms that if you follow the guidelines I’m giving you here, 99.9 times out of 100, the results will be there at the end. The .01 percent are those that have an underlying medical condition, or some sort of health issue that has gone undiagnosed, and is preventing progress. What I’m saying is, that in a ‘normal’ situation, if you follow this formula, fat loss will occur. It’s an inevitability.
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. Part 4 dealt with essential fatty acids and other dietary fats, and how much we need to include in our diet plan. Part 5 was spent discussing how many carbohydrates are needed in our diet. If you missed any of the articles please start the series at the beginning. Starting part way through defeats the purpose of this process. The point of this series is to educate 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.
Now that the fat loss formula has evolved to the point of being a good, but generic diet guide (which absolutely will work), I want to begin to get into some specifics. Specifically the issue of insulin sensitivity and resistance, and the bearing that has on our formula thus far. Insulin, and some other hormones I’m going to get into in the next few weeks, will be the pieces of this formula that can be used to ‘personalize’ the diet to each individual person. We are all different, and so are our hormonal responses to food.
To understand what I want to talk about next, I need to briefly discuss two different, but somewhat related aspects of insulin metabolism: insulin sensitivity/resistance and insulin secretion. I think many of you know that insulin is a storage hormone released in response to eating. Carbohydrates cause the greatest amount of insulin secretion, and protein has the second greatest. Fat has very little impact on insulin secretion. Insulin sensitivity is a different issue entirely. This refers to how well or poorly our body responds to the hormone insulin. Individuals who are insulin resistant tend to have higher baseline insulin levels, because their body’s are releasing more in an attempt to overcome the resistance.
Our own insulin resistance is largely determined by genetics, but exercise and diet can greatly influence this as well. Even with the same body fat level, insulin sensitivity can vary between individuals greatly for genetic reasons. It’s possible that even lean athletes, or ripped bodybuilders can have a degree genetic insulin resistance even though their body fat levels are extremely low. As such, individuals differ in how much, or how little insulin they release following a meal. There are those who release more insulin than others in response to the very same foods. This can be related to genetic insulin sensitivity, but it doesn’t have to be.
Both insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity are related to fat gain or fat loss. In contrast to what is generally believed, good overall insulin sensitivity tends to correlate with fat gain. Insulin resistance is believed to be a modern adaptation in an attempt to prevent further fat gain. Contrary to that hypothesis however, is that a tendency to release too much insulin in response to food may be what is making some people more likely to gain fat. Something else that makes even less sense, is that high insulin secretion tends to make people eat more. So if insulin is our body attempting to gain less fat, it seems to not be a very effective adaptation.
Where does that leave us then in relation to our diet, and our formula? What I’m getting at through this explanation of how insulin works, and how it can cause fat gain depending on our own levels of sensitivity, is to help you figure out where it is you should set your own level of carbohydrate consumption. If you tolerate carbs really well, and need the energy for training, then by all means use all the available left over calories in your formula for carbs. If you respond poorly to carbohydrates, then it’s probably a better idea to keep your carb intake at the lowest level necessary to ensure a good training performance, and no more.
How do you or I know whether we are tolerant, or intolerant to carbs? There are a few signals that our body gives us, and as I always am preaching whether it be anything from over-training to diet, our body will always tell us what we need to know. The skill we all must develop is the ability to listen, and correctly interpret the information. When we can listen, and understand what our body is saying, the decision about what to do next is always obvious.
I’m going to present to you a couple of scenarios that only you can answer. This information will directly impact how you are going to tailor your diet to be more effective for you. When you eat a high carbohydrate meal- you either feel pumped and strong, or lazy and sluggish. Also, when you eat a high carbohydrate meal-you either feel like you have steady energy for a long period of time, or you feel tired and hungry a short time later.
If the first option in both scenarios describes you, then you likely tolerate carbs well. If the second option in both scenarios sounds like you, then you likely don’t tolerate carbs very well. If you tolerate carbs well, your insulin secretion and sensitivity is normal, or good. If you don’t tolerate carbs very well, your insulin secretion and sensitivity are less than normal, or poor.
Make sense to everyone? Now if we stick to our formula, that means that our 150 pound person is going to have a macro nutrient breakdown of 225 grams of protein, 50 grams of fat, and our baseline of 100 grams of carbohydrate. As we discussed last time, that still leaves 200 calories (rounding up) that are unspoken for. If you are someone who tolerates carbohydrates extremely well, and feels foggy and unable to concentrate when carbohydrate intake is low, then that 200 calories should be consumed as an additional 50 grams of carbs.
This makes a nice and tidy diet. 225 grams of protein, 50 grams of fat, and 150 grams of carbohydrate for a total of 1950 calories. That couldn’t look nicer on paper. If however, you do not tolerate carbohydrates well, then that additional 200 calories should be used for either fats, or protein.
Adding another 50 grams of protein puts that total at 275 grams. That offers the benefit of increased calorie expenditure due to the thermal effect of the protein, which was covered in the earlier Fat Loss Facts articles. That is one possibility to consider, and my personal experience is that the fat burning is very high when following this plan, but hunger between meals is a bit of an issue as well.
Another option is to consider adding another 22 grams of fat. 50 grams of fat a day is a low number, and not easy to stick to. Unless you are consuming large amounts of protein powder, which I personally do regardless, then the fats from meats and eggs will add up. Of course you if eat a lot of chicken breasts, and egg whites you can get by, but I personally like to have red meat in any diet. The protein in superior (another article for another day), and the fats have the benefit of helping me feel full. This is the easier of the two options, as the full feeling after eating even a little more fat can make a big difference in feeling satisfied between meals.
Whatever choice you make is the correct one, because the end result is the same. The number of calories will add up to 1950, and that is the number that must be used to start the diet. So I guess we’re all done then. The numbers all add up, we have an amazing formula for fat loss that even takes our insulin sensitivity, or resistance into consideration.
The second part of what I just said is true-we do have a great formula for the starting point of our diet. The being all done part wasn’t entirely true. Or even partially true for that matter. The issue of insulin sensitivity means that the formula will likely have to change as we advance further into the diet, beyond the first few weeks. There may be more effective ways to use those calories than the basic, one size fits all formula I have outlined.
What I would like you to do in the next week is to really give some thought as to where you are on the insulin sensitivity/resistance spectrum. The reason being is when we next get together I would like to outline several different strategies for both extremes, and a couple of points to either side of center. Sound like a plan?
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