What kinds of foods should I be eating for fat-loss? Since a friend of mine just asked this question last night, I figured now would be a good time to address it. His question was actually how many carbs are considered low carbs if you’re trying to lose body-fat. Fortunately the two questions are related. The short answer is I recommend my clients eat zero-carbs for at least 8 weeks if fat-loss is the over-riding goal.
Let’s talk about why first. If you are obese or overweight, chances are your body has become carb-adapted. In other words carbohydrates or sugars have become the preferred fuel source for you body. One sign of this is frequent hunger despite having just eaten a few hours prior. You’re constantly hungry because carbs don’t pack much energy compared to fat and your body quickly burns through them. We are trying to limit or eliminate entirely your body’s access to carbs and force it to start utilizing the fat it has stored on your body for fuel.
Foods to Eat:
Meats: Beef, Chicken, Some Pork, Venison, Bison, Goat and Seafood
I eat a lot of steak and chicken, seafood when I can get it fresh and wild caught, and I like to smoke pork shoulder and spare ribs, and everyone loves bacon. I save the grease from bacon and use it to saute veggies and other things. I try to buy pastured beef when possible and affordable and free range chicken and pork. The quality, taste, and nutrient content of free range products is superior to feed lot meats. I also recommend you broaden your horizons and add wild meats to your diet whenever possible.
Foods from Meat: Butter, Eggs, Cheese
These are foods like eggs, butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt, and cheeses. I do recommend that new clients avoid anything dairy for the first 6 weeks except grass-fed butter. This is more a matter of trying to identify potential food allergies than anything else. If you do consume dairy stick to the whole-fat versions and keep it unflavored. Cheese has a good protein to fat ratio look for varieties that are aged, the older the better. When it comes to eggs, free-range or straight from your local farmer is best, the difference in color and taste are noticeable.
This should be self explanatory. You know that section of the grocery store that’s usually on the right as soon as you walk in and filled with green things that are being watered those are veggies. My go-to veggies are, broccoli, spinach, arugula, peppers, lettuce, avocado, asparagus, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, tomatilloes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, scallions, chives, and the list goes. Most people dislike veggies because they don’t know how to season and cook them to bring out the flavor. It makes all the difference. After 8 weeks or so feel free to add potatoes and plantains back to this list.
Fruit is a tricky subject because technically fruit is a healthy food. The issue is people have poor self control and tend to take something good, think more is better, and over do it. Year round access to fruit is actually a modern thing. Up until World War 2, fruit was kind of a seasonal luxury which meant it was treasured, savored, and not over done. Fruit should be an occasional treat not a meal! Limit fruit to after lunch snacks preferably around workout time. They make great additions to healthy desserts too as long as you don’t add more sugar.
Healthy fats usually come from animals but also from things like avocado, walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, olives, and similar items. If you’re cooking with vegetable/canola oil stop. These oils have too much Omega-6 in them have been shown to actually promote inflammation and are most likely already oxidized and on their way to rancid before they even leave the store shelf. Stick to butter, ghee, olive oil, and avo-oil for cooking, sauteing etc.
Healthy fats contain Omega-3 fatty acids. These come from grass-fed and finished beef, pastured pork, and free range chicken. Whether from the meat itself or products like butter these foods are packed with healthy nutrients, vitamins, and fat. Another great source of fats are wild caught seafood, particularly sardines and anchovies. They have tremendous amounts of Omega-3.
Foods to Avoid:
If it is made from grain, dough, or contains starch stay away for awhile. This means breads, pastas, pastries, cakes, cookies, baked desserts, rices, potatoes, sugars, sweeteners both natural and artificial, chips, popcorn, corn, cornbread, corn casserole, poptarts, cupcakes, hot cocoa, candy, and all that other stuff you keep hidden on the top shelf; are bad. If it has more than 1 ingredient on the label, chances are you should stay away. In fact just stay away from the countries of France and Switzerland for the next 3 months.
The problem with all these foods is that they are loaded with sugar or substances that will quickly be processed into sugar in the body. You eat them, your insulin spikes, fat storage increases and you gain unwanted pounds. For the first several weeks of your weight-loss regimen stay away from them. Stay away from substitutions too. A “paleo” brownie is still a brownie regardless of what ingredients are in it.
This is obviously an abbreviated list of a topic that can and does fill a book, several in fact. I think it’s a good starting point though. As always, everyone’s body chemistry is different and I advise anyone serious about fitness and weightloss to either educate themselves and do the research or seek out the aid of a professional. This will greatly increase the chances and speed of your success.