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Atkins & Low Fat, two sides of the same coin. 5 tips for fat loss.

Jade Teta ND, CSCS

One of the Metabolic Effect blog posts was recently passed around several forums. It made its way through the Atkin’s diet discussions and also through discussion boards where people follow low fat and vegetarian programs. The consensus on these forums reflected the particular diet approach. Atkin’s dieters eat lots of fat and lose weight. Low fat dieters eat plenty of carbs and instead avoid fat and also lose weight. I have seen both types of dieters in my clinic for years and as long as they stick to their programs they lose weight regardless of which plan they follow. However, the problem to me is that their focus is on weight loss, NOT fat loss.

Time and time again I see Atkin’s dieters and the Weight Watchers crowd and have watched their weight go down while their body fat percent remained the same or went up. Sure, they lose some fat, but they also lose muscle and that is why their shape does not change much. If they are an apple or a pear, they lose weight and become smaller apples and pears. However, they rarely are able to break the fat loss code and develop the true body change they are after until they learn to maintain muscle and burn primarily fat. This is a trick the requires the control of both fat and carbs with an emphasis on protein a vegetables. However, this change in diet alone will not always do the trick. Exercise with weights is required.

The weight loss game consists of a low calorie diet and lots of aerobic exercise. But if you want fat loss, this is the last approach you want to take. Atkins dieters eat all the fat they want and avoid carbs. Low fat dieters eat all the carbs they want and instead avoid fat. If either group does any exercise, it is usually running. Fat loss is about lowering carbs AND fat while increasing weight training.

Here are 5 tips to turn weight loss into fat loss:

1) Find your “carb tipping point”. This is the amount starch you can eat to maintain high energy in your exercise sessions, but continue to burn fat. In other words, you need enough carbohydrate for a controlled insulin release to maintain and perhaps gain muscle, but not so much to impede fat loss.

2) Lower fat and get selective with the fat you do eat. Decrease your fat intake overall, and focus the fat you do eat on omega 3 fish oils.

3) When you think fiber, dont think whole grains but rather vegetables.

4) Increasing your carb intake post workout and avoiding excessive carbs preworkout will help maintain or build muscle while still burning fat.

5) Lift weights a minimum of three times per week, walk as much as possible, and if your going to do cardio try intervals instead of long duration steady state aerobics.