A simple question we're often asked is "how will a high protein and low carb diet help me towards my fat loss goals?".
The monitoring of protein and carbs are fundamental in not only healthy fat loss but also muscle retention. While muscle retention might not sound like priority number one for those working towards fat loss goals, it's actually a pretty important factor in achieving that "lean/fit" look.
Here we'll talk a bit about the ins and outs of protein and carbs, what they do for your body, and why you should be monitoring them.
A high protein diet for fat loss and muscle building
One of the most important things to remember here is that weight loss, doesn’t always mean fat loss
. When you lose weight, it’s all too easy for muscle mass to be lost at the same time.
The question here then, is how can I lose body fat - both subcutaneous fat (under the skin) and visceral fat (around organs), without the loss in lean muscle mass as well?
Generally speaking, when a person loses weight their metabolic rate tends to decrease
. In other words, as you continue to drop weight, you end up burning fewer calories than when you first started! This is known as “starvation mode” and it isn’t uncommon for it to amount to several hundred fewer calories burnt every day.
Eating plenty of protein helps builds muscle
as well as reduce muscle loss, but also keeps you metabolic rate higher as you lose body fat. A well planned strength/weights program can also reduce muscle loss and metabolic decrease when losing weight.
Ideally then you want a combination of a high protein diet and strength training program in order to naturally ignite effective fat loss
. Not only do they both keep your metabolism high, but they ensure that the muscle beneath the fat is healthy. This can be the difference between looking “skinny fat” instead of lean and fit.
Monitoring carbs to lose weight
Low carb diets are much more well known approach for weight loss. Carbs are a pivotal tool in controlling your body’s metabolism, and it’s better to slowly lower your carbs over time (while keeping your protein high) than to drastically slash them. This will help aid muscle retention and keep you feeling healthy and energetic throughout your weight loss journey.
What does the body use carbs for?
Carbohydrates are used as your main fuel source.
Sugars and starches are broken down into simple sugars during digestion and then from there are absorbed into your bloodstream where they're known as glucose (blood sugar). Fiber-containing carbohydrates resist the digestion process. Although they have less effect on blood sugar, complex carbohydrates provide bulk and serve other body functions beyond fuel.
The rising levels of blood sugar trigger the body to release insulin, which helps glucose enter your body's cells. Some of the glucose is used by your body for energy, fuelling all of your activities, whereas the extra glucose is usually stored in your liver, muscles and other cells for later use or converted to fat.
The idea behind the low-carb diet is that decreasing carbs lower insulin levels, which causes the body to burn stored fat for energy and ultimately leads to weight loss.
What approach is best?
Put simply, both!
Looking at the benefits and effects of both protein and carbs, it's clear that we need both to move towards any fat loss goal or otherwise. Use these nutrients to your advantage to get your metabolism firing and working for you. Which in the long run is what we should all be aiming for.
Looking for some tips on living low carb? See our article 50 lowest carb vegetables is a great read to get yourself started!
Please note that any nutritional advice on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or nutritionist with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or a dietary restriction. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on our website.