Maybe the title gives it away, but I want to stress the importance of the word “low” in that term. A low fat diet is fine. A low carb diet it fine. So if you want to set yourself up with a low fat and low carb diet, that will certainly help you on your weight loss journey. Just make sure you remember the word LOW.
Cutting all fats out of your diet is not a good idea. In fact, it’s dangerous. The same goes for carbs.
Don’t believe me? Read on.
No-Fat Diets Are Great!
No! They’re not!
Do you realize your body NEEDS fat? That right. You need it.
No saturated fat is a good idea. No trans fat is a good idea. These are unhealthy fats. You don’t need them. You don’t want them.
But there are healthy fats that allow our bodies to perform necessary functions.
Like absorbing vitamins!
You know, vitamins? Those things we need to stay healthy and strong? Yeah, those. Well, some of them are fat-soluble. What that means is that in order to dissolve and be used by our bodies, they need fat! They are dissolved in fat. They are stored in fat. Without fat, we don’t get them! Think vitamin A, D, E, and K. We need all of them, and they need fat.
Fats in the body also act as an “emergency” energy reserve. Fats take longer to break down than carbs (more on this later), so we have a longer-lasting source of energy to fuel our bodies through the day.
Don’t think you need that kind of energy reserve because you don’t work out like crazy?
Your heart is beating isn’t it? Are you breathing? Well, if you’re reading this you must be alive, so I’m going to guess “Yes” to both those questions. Your cells are constantly in a state of change, growth, division, etc. All of this happens without us even thinking about it. And it all requires energy.
Ready for the best part? Our brains and nervous system can’t function without fats. Let’s say that again. Our brains (very important) and our nervous system (very important) CANNOT function without fats. Fats make up a major part of the material that envelops our nerve cells and carries electrical signals through the body. Translation: Without fats, your brain can’t tell your heart to beat. I don’t think I really need to tell you how bad that is.
But I Want To Burn My Belly Fat!
Then you still need to eat fats!
Weren’t expecting that, were you?
Here’s the deal. Your body, in the most basic sense, is a machine. It is designed to grow, repair, and function without your conscious input. It does it all automatically. And one of the body-machine’s directives is self-preservation.
In order for the body to function, it needs energy. It gets that energy from the food we eat. We measure that energy in units called… CALORIES! We get our calories from three main sources: Protein, carbs, and fats. Proteins get broken down to repair our muscles, so that energy is already taken. It can’t be used in the body’s mission of self-preservation. Carbs are broken down quickly for immediate energy needs. Test it sometime. Eat some carbs, like cereal or pasta, then go for a run. You’ll be hungry again when you’re done. Why? Because your body just used all the energy from those carbs to get you through the run. Now it wants more.
Fat, on the other hand, takes longer to break down, and can therefore be used over a longer period of time as our bodies require energy. Furthermore, fat is the only dietary source of energy that can be stored. You body likes storing energy. Why? Because if there ever came a time that you couldn’t get to food, it can use that stored energy to keep you alive. So your body likes to store fat.
Knowing that the body likes to store fat in case it needs energy later, do you really think it’s going to let you burn the existing fat it already stored for emergencies? Not if it can help it. And if you don’t give it fats in your diet, guess what’s going to happen? Your body is going to try even harder to keep the fat it already has.
That’s right, if you want to burn fat, cutting fat from your diet will actually do the opposite. It will cause your body to hold on to what it has for dear life. Literally.
What About Low Carb Diets?
Again, just as long as you remember that it’s a LOW carb diet, and not a no-carb diet.
Are there such things as no-carb diets? Yes. Can they work? Yes. Do I recommend them? No.
Why? Like I mentioned above, carbs are your body’s immediate source of energy. Need a quick pick-me-up? Cereal, pasta, breads… They’re all high carb, and will give your body the energy it needs to power through. Everything we do requires energy. Even sitting in front of the TV. Eating requires energy. Believe it or not, you’re even burning calories while you sleep! Remember, keeping your heart beating and breathing require energy. Energy used=Calories burned.
If you decide to cut all of the carbs out of your diet, your going to find yourself feeling very tired until your body has time to break down and use the fats that you’re eating.
Oh, and by the way… If you don’t eat any carbs thinking that will help you burn that belly fat, think again!
Remember I said that fat are the only dietary source of calories that our body stores? That’s not ENTIRELY true. Your body stores protein, too. Just not dietary protein.
Then what protein does it store?
That’s right. Your muscles are build from chains of proteins. Going back to our bodies being machines designed for self-preservation and wanting to hold on to the emergency energy it has stored as fats, guess where it looks next if it’s not getting the immediate energy it needs from carbs.
Yep! Your muscles!
Your body will quite literally eat your muscles to get the energy it needs before it decides to burn the fat that it’s stored for emergencies. Pretty crazy, huh? But it’s absolutely true. Look it up anywhere you want. Ask your doctor. Your body will break down muscle before it willingly burns fat.
So What Do I Do To Lose My Belly?
You eat fats. You eat carbs. You eat proteins.
You just don’t eat too many fats or carbs. None is bad. We need some. Too much is bad, too.
Remember, a calorie is a calorie. To lose weight, we don’t need to restrict where those calories come from. We just need to pay attention to how many calories we’re eating. You can read a little more about it here. Unless you are a professional body-builder cutting down in preparation for a competition, it doesn’t matter where were get our calories from. If you really wanted to, just as long as the calories you took in were less than you burned, you could lose weight eating nothing but Oreos and Twinkies, drinking protein shakes (because you need protein and you aren’t going to get it from Oreos or Twinkies) and taking a daily vitamin supplement.
I know. It’s a crazy thought. Lose weight eating cookies and snack cakes. But it’s possible. It’s not healthy, but it’s possible.
The only formula you need to lose weight is this:
Burn more calories than you take in.
So No-Fat And No-Carb Diets Don’t Work?
That’s not what I said. They will work. Just as long as you’re taking in fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight.
Are there uses for no-fat or no-carb diets? Sure. The professional body-builder I mentioned above. A magazine cover model getting ready for a shoot. The truth is, most of these people don’t look like that every day. Think of that sought-after “six-pack-abs”. Can you maintain that look year round? Absolutely. Is it fun? No! A lot of these models and bodybuilders allow a little bit of fat to build up, obscuring their defined abs when they don’t need them to show. That’s when the no-fat or no-carb diets come into play. By being so restrictive in their diets, they can cut that layer of fat in a matter of days.
That’s not the intention of this website. My goal is to help the average person lose weight. And the truth is, the average person is not going to stick to such a restrictive diet. Do you have a favorite snack? I’m sure you do. Little Debbie Swiss Rolls are mine. I eat them all the time. I just make sure that I leave room in my diet for the calories so that I’m not eating more than I burn. I eat at maintenance levels, because I don’t need to lose weight. But I certainly don’t want to gain any! So I eat my snacks. You can, too. I highly recommend keeping room in your diet for your favorite snack. It allows you to lose weight without feeling like you’re punishing yourself.
These things aren’t punishments. They shouldn’t feel like work. They should become a normal part of our daily lives. They can, and should, be fun. If a diet feels like a punishment you aren’t going to want to keep going with it.
Remember, you need fats and carbs in your diet. Don’t take this article as license to pig out on every fatty or sugary treat you see. But don’t be afraid of them either.
Eat what you like. Just keep the calories down. The weight will come off.
It would be great if you could rate this article, and let me know what you thought in the comments below. Ask questions. Tell me what you would like to see added to the site!
As always, I wish you the best of luck of your journey,
P.S. Remember, if you ever have questions, or need help, or just a little encouragement, feel free to reach out. You can leave a comment, or send me an e-mail, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.