Stop Counting Calories and Start Losing Body Fat

Calorie-counting is an ineffective strategy for body fat reduction. Physiologically-based strategies are more effective.

Chronic diseases and conditions such as obesity, excessive body fat, type 2 diabetes, ischemic heart disease and hypertension have reached epidemic levels in many industrialized countries. These chronic conditions reflect improper dietary practices and/or metabolic disorders [1,2]. They can be prevented or corrected with proper dietary strategies for body fat reduction. Presented here are some of the basic principles that support effective dietary strategies for preventing or reducing excessive body fat.

Calorie-counting Can be a Significant Obstacle to Body Fat Reduction

Calorie-counting is a major stumbling block for body fat reduction. Most dieters spend a lot of time counting calories instead of focusing attention on the physiological mechanisms that support the dietary protocols for body fat reduction. More attention is often focused on the quantity rather than the quality of foods consumed. Consequently many dieters do not show body fat reduction after months of calorie-counting. Many become dismayed and start seeing the task of body fat reduction as an impossible dream.

The manner in which the body handles food and how the food affects the body, the body-food interactions, are often more important than the caloric value of the ingested food. For example, diet drinks may be calorie-free but they will disrupt the appetite control mechanism and increase the appetite [3,4,5], Consequently if a person consumes diet drinks and balanced meals (ad libitum), he will end up eating more food during th the course of the day compared to a person who consumes tap water and balanced meals containing olive oil (ad libitum). The caloric content of the food with olive oil will be higher than the balanced meal alone due to the high caloric value of oil, but during the course of the day, the diet drink consumer will consume more food and more calories compared to the tap water consumer on higher caloric meals.

One can argue that the consumer of the diet drinks should gain more body fat than the consumer of olive oil because the daily caloric intake is higher in the consumer of the diet drinks. This type of thinking may make sense if one ignores the physiological basis for the increased appetite in the consumer of the diet drinks. On the other hand one can take the two variables (caloric value of the food and body-food interaction) into consideration over a reasonable time-frame to reach a conclusion on which dietary approach is better for body fat reduction.

The latter approach is the proper way for determining the effectiveness of a given food or substance in a dietary protocol for body fat reduction. One more step can be taken, however, to improve this later approach. One may simply ignore the caloric intake since the body-food interaction is the primary determinant of the food’s adipogenic effects (fat making effects).

By removing the distractions of calorie-counting, one can focus more attention on foods that would be constructive in body fat reduction.

Removing the Most Adipogenic Substances (Fat-makers) from the Dietary Plan

As far as body fat gain is concerned the two most adipogenic substances are artificial sweeteners (diet drinks) and refined carbohydrates. A dieter for body fat reduction should avoid diet drinks and foods that contain artificial sweeteners. He/she should also avoid refined carbohydrates or learn how to minimize their adipogenic effects .

Most refined carbohydrates are foods with high glycemic index values [6]. Glucose from these refined carbohydrates enters the blood stream very quickly and causes sharp rises in the plasma levels of insulin. An increase in the plasma insulin level facilitates the synthesis of fat. Elevated plasma level of insulin also prevents the release of body fat from storage so that it can be burned. (Insulin facilitates the synthesis of fat and prevents the stored fat from being burned.) This can lead to obesity.

Inclusion of a Few Physiologically-sound Dietary Strategies in the Dietary Plan

Knowing the main foods to avoid is often sufficient to place one on the right path for body fat reduction. Artificial sweeteners and refined carbohydrates are the most adepogenic substances. Bad fats and oils (trans-fats and saturated fats) are also important offenders. The task of body fat reduction can be further facilitated by the addition of a few physiologically-sound dietary strategies. Two strategies presented here would curb the appetite or increase insulin sensitivity (boost metabolism).

Dietary measures that improve insulin sensitivity would help to restore the proper energy management and energy metabolism. Simple things as the addition of spices like cinnamon, curry and cayenne pepper to foods would increase insulin sensitivity. Another dietary measure that is very effective for body fat reduction is to increase the dietary fibers and good oils (e.g., olive oil) in the diet. Dietary fibers and olive oil will curb the appetite, reduce food consumption and increase insulin sensitivity.

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