Healthy foods are not the same as fat loss foods. They can be, but healthy does not equal fat loss. The idea that “healthy eating”, (whatever that means) is synonymous with body change is probably the single biggest misconception there is regarding what real physique change takes.
On the other hand, fat loss foods are almost always healthy foods. Especially when there is excess fat to be lost, and unless you’re less than 10% body fat for a male and 15% for a female, you probably could spare some more fat loss.
What is healthy eating?
Healthy eating has to do with vitamin amounts, mineral concentrations, essential fat content, fiber, and phytonutrient levels. There are plenty of foods that have great nutrient profiles that are not going to help most people lose fat. These include whole grains, nuts/seeds, avocados, olives, and high fat dairy foods to name a few. These foods, in anything but smaller amounts, will not be a great strategy for most people. If you hope to get any results with these staples, your only option is controlling portions. And that is the issue, controlling portions does not work for most people. Especially the overweight and obese who often have metabolisms that make it difficult for them to feel satisfied from meals or stay full between meals. A better approach is to eat your fill, and you can do just that when you trade in your “healthy foods” for fat loss foods.
To lose fat it takes two things; low calories in the context of hormonal balance. The hormonal balance has to come first, and when it does, calorie intake normally takes care of itself.
In other words, eat more of the right things more often and you will have less hunger, absent cravings, and stable energy leading to an automatic reduction in food intake. Do it the other way, by taking a calorie first approach, and you will likely increase your hunger, elevate your cravings, suffer from energy lows, and a slowed metabolic rate (by slowed metabolic rate I mean a less efficient fat burning engine not how many calories you burn per day). You can be burning calories and losing weight, but if the hormonal balance is off, those calories and that weight will just as likely be coming from muscle as opposed to fat.
What is fat loss eating
Fat loss foods have three things that set them apart; high volumes of water, high amounts of fiber, and/or elevated protein content. Water, fiber, and protein are all very filling. This is the reason many people can sit down and eat five or six cups of cereal and still feel hungry (cereal has no water, a high starch to fiber ratio and almost non-existent protein). Try eating 5 cups of broccoli or 5 boneless skinless chicken breasts. If you can finish either you certainly aren’t going to be hungry after.
And just for fun, let’s calculate the calories. For the sake of trying to be fair, let’s choose the best cereal out there (or at least the one the nutrition divas tell you to eat), Kashi Go Lean. 5 servings (5 cups)= 950 calories (via www.calorieking.com). 5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (6oz each)= 936 calories. 5 cups of broccoli= 273 calories. You could eat 5 chicken breast and 5 cups of broccoli and still have only eaten just over 200 calories more than 5 cups of Kashi. Even going through this exercise I have to shake my head.
Do nutritionists really feel cereal (one of the most processed foods on the planet) is a better fiber source than broccoli? Does anyone actually believe most people can overeat chicken breasts? I am 230 pounds and an active weight lifter. I can’t eat more than 2 chicken breasts at a sitting, and while I am not a big eater, I have a hard time thinking people can eat 10 chicken breasts in a day. And even if they could, it still would not be overeating from a calorie perspective for most. Ten chicken breasts still only amounts to less than 2,000 calories. This would mean you need to eat three for breakfast, three for lunch, and four for dinner. I am doubting anyone would have much room for their broccoli after that.
The reality is, you can take any lean protein source and pair it with as many non-starchy vegetables as you can eat (corn, potatoes, peas, beans, etc.= starchy vegetables if we can even call them vegetables, they are actually starches). You can also throw in as much low sugar fruit as you want for your sweet tooth (things like berries, apples, pears, and citrus). You will end up with more food than you can eat, less calories, less insulin, and more nutrients than most any low fat, whole grain diet a nutritionist can dream up. By the way, this has actually been compared in research (see the table below and the citation reference).
Fat loss eating means eating more of the right things more often. The right things= lean protein, vegetables, and low sugar fruit. In my clinical practice almost everyone (upwards of 90%) who eats this way sees substantial improvements in body composition and health. That is the difference between healthy eating and fat loss eating. Fat loss foods are both healthy AND help with body composition, while “healthy foods” may not help with either one.
Here is my list of the top 10 healthiest fat loss foods based on the same criteria above. High water, high fiber, and higher protein along with power packed nutrition including vitamins, minerals, essential fats, and healthy plant chemicals. Eat from this list of food 90% of the time, and my bet is your body’s appearance and its health will improve dramatically.
Fat Loss Foods 10 Best
- Salmon & Sardines- High protein, good essential fats, and low mercury content unlike most fish.
- Berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)- Low sugar, and a potent source of antioxidants
- Bison- All the best elements of chicken and red meat rolled into one (no, bison is not an animal that is part chicken and cow). It is low fat like chicken, and loaded with nutrition like beef.
- Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc)- low amounts of starch compared to fiber and phytonutrients that help estrogen metabolism.
- Eggs (lose all or some of the yolks if you have a ton of fat to lose)- The yolks are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet and the whites are the perfect protein. If your doctor still thinks eggs raise cholesterol in everyone and that cholesterol causes heart disease, please give him or her a recent nutrition book to replace their 1980′s medical library.
- Greens (lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, dandelions, etc)- Almost negative calorie with power packed nutrition
- Water veggies (celery, cucumbers, etc)- Eat a dump-truck full of this stuff and you probably still won’t break 1,000 calories.
- Apples- Great for a sweet tooth, loaded with water and soluble fiber and plenty of nutrition.
- Boneless skinless chicken breast- low fat, satiating, and every ones favorite protein.
- Cocoa powder- Virtually zero calories, high fiber, and loaded with bioactive compounds that raise energy, blunt hunger, and reduce cravings. Add 1 tablespoon to a mug, pour hot water on top while stirring and you have the world’s best diet aid. It also lowers blood pressure, has the same blood thinning effect as aspirin, balances blood sugar, and more.