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Nutrition E-Book

Evaluating all of the

Evaluating all of the positive and negative aspects of a diet is somewhat complicated to do completely. However, evaluating a diet’s effectiveness for fat loss is much easier. Essentially, all diets operate on the same principle: they shift energy balance into the negative direction (expending more than consuming). That may be through eliminating an entire group of calorie dense foods (e.g. low carb diets), promoting nutrient dense foods that are filling and low in calories for the size of the serving (e.g. Paleo), or an attempt to limit portion sizes (e.g. the pita pocket diet). Any diet can be effective if it results in expending more calories than you consume. In fact, a recent meta analysis comparing the effectiveness of various diets found that they were similarly effective. The most important variable in determining the effectiveness of the various diets was adherence. That is to say, whatever diet you choose to follow, make sure you can stick to it! If a diet forces you to eliminate a group of foods that will result in you relapsing and gorging, then it probably isn’t the right choice for you. Find a diet that fits your lifestyle and food preferences (while still creating a calorie deficit) and you will be successful in the long run. How long will it take to lose _______ amount of weight? There are a ton of varying recommendations as far as fat loss is concerned. As a theoretical upper limit, the maximum amount of fat you can lose would be the amount lost while not eating any food at all. Obviously, this is not a healthy route for numerous reasons, but I felt it worth mentioning this limit nonetheless. As such, that limit is higher for larger, more muscular, and more active individuals. Establishing a safe and healthy guideline for fat loss is a little more relevant to what folks are trying to accomplish. When creating a calorie deficit, you want to accomplish two things: avoiding major micronutrient deficiencies and retaining as much muscle mass as possible. Leaner individuals need to lose fat more gradually to maintain their Property of Perform for Life 9

existing muscle mass. This is because there is a limit to how much energy a fat cell can liberate at any one time. A somewhat easy calculation you can use to approximate this upper limit for yourself is to take your body fat percentage and divide that by 20. Then, multiple that percentage by your bodyweight. This will give you the maximum amount of fat you can lose per week while ensuring that all the energy is able to be provided by stored fat. So, if you’re 30% body fat and 250lbs, you dive 30%/20, resulting in 1.5%. Take 1.5% of 250lbs (which is 3.75lbs) and this is the theoretical maximum for fat loss that can be achieved without having to break down muscle tissue for energy. Keep in mind that as you become leaner and of lower bodyweight, this maximum threshold goes down. You have to periodically re-calculate this upper limit to ensure you are preserving your muscle tissue. A simpler calculation you can use to determine the maximum amount of weight to lose per week is to simply assume 1% of your bodyweight as the safe limit. For already lean individuals, you should probably be more conservative than this. However, for most folks, this is a very reasonable and simple calculation to use. Again, keep in mind that all of these recommendations are trumped by your ability to meet micronutrient needs. If you’re a small, sedentary, female, for example, then you may already have a fairly low maintenance calorie intake (e.g. 1600 calories). For this person, it will already be a struggle to meet micronutrient demands. As such, the amount of calories that can be reasonably cut to result in fat loss is fairly low. Property of Perform for Life 10

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