I get asked a lot of questions about nutrition for fat loss, and people are sometimes surprised at how simple my approach actually is.
There are a few rules I follow that are pretty effective, and as far as I’m concerned, universal; and following them removes a lot of the guesswork from nutrition.
Drink more water. Eat more vegetables. Avoid crappy processed foods. Take fish oil. Eat something before you go to a family dinner, and then pretend to like whatever you’re served. Basic stuff, but all of it effective.
One of the things that I often suggest to people is to divide their meals into “types” – I do this because I feel it makes it easier to lose fat when you separate some macronutrients from others.
Said a little more plainly, I subscribe to the belief that for most people, it’s almost never a good idea to combine fast digesting carbohydrates and fats in excess in the same meal.
In fact, where at all possible, I recommend not combining carbohydrates and fats together at all.
PROTEIN + FAT Meals – These meals consist primarily of protein and fat while minimizing carbohydrates. While ideally the total grams of carbs will be as close to “0” as possible, there will likely be a few grams of naturally occurring carbohydrates in your protein and fat choices—don’t sweat that. Not worth worrying about. The MAIN THING is to keep the carb content below 10 grams.
PROTEIN + CARB Meals – These meals consist primarily of protein and carbohydrates while minimizing fat. While ideally the total grams of fat will be as close to “0” as possible, there will likely be a few grams of naturally occurring fats in your protein and carbohydrate choices—don’t sweat that. Not worth worrying about. The MAIN THING is to keep the fat content below 10 grams.
Anyway, as some of my readers may already know, I basically stole this from Dr. John Berardi. (It’s okay, though—one time I bought him ice cream after a seminar, so I figure that evens us up).
In all seriousness, though I should mention that JB has been one of the biggest influences on my nutritional philosophies; if you want to learn some more from the big guy, check out this interview I did with Berardi.
Of course, it’s not NECESSARY to eat this way to get results.
The original theory behind this style of macronutrient separation was outlined in Berardi’s article on T-Nation, Massive Eating. The main thrust of the theory was that by eating carbs and fats together, you create perfect storm for fat storage: high levels of fat consumed while insulin is elevated from the carbohydrate ingestion.
Well, the problem is that it isn’t really as accurate (or as simple) as all that. In fact, a not inconsiderable number of well-known nutritional sources have said that it’s pretty much bullshit. These people posit that if Berardi is suggesting that avoiding consumption of fats and carbs together makes it easier to avoid fat storage, he must, in some small way, be suggesting that carbs are necessary to store fat, right?
No. As many of these people are quick to point out, “fat doesn’t need insulin to be stored—it can store itself.”
I’m not going to discount that, so let’s talk about acute fat storage for a second.
Yes, due to the phospholipid bilayer of adipocytes, fat can store itself without insulin. Similarly, many other nutrients (creatine, amino acids, etc.) can be stored without insulin because of various non-insulin dependent storage pathways.
While all of that may be true, it’s worth considering that in almost every situation, if you add insulin, you’ll increase acute nutrient storage—fatty acids are no exception. And so, regardless of what the naysayers put forth, I still believe that there is something to Berardi’s original argument.
However, even with all of that said, I am very willing to admit that from a purely scientific perspective, adhering to the nutrient combination/separation recommendation would only yield a small increase in results.
Why then, would I make it?
Simple: as with all things, I strive to strike a balance between theory and practice—between science and practicality. I am, above all things, incredibly pragmatic.
Here is the real truth of it: I am an ardent believer that for the most part, most foods get along together pretty well—assuming everything else is going according to plan, that is. Which means that if people just ate healthy foods, didn’t go overboard on calories, and made intelligent dietary decisions, this would be irrelevant.
The problem is, the times when that happens are few and far between. We often have to deal with tons of stuff, and that can get in the way of nutrition.
Because of that, I often find it helpful to follow this simple “rule” and divide consumption of macronutrients—which I find allows for increased compliance and results.
Basically, this creates what we call a pattern interrupt—which means that it breaks the “flow” of life where you just see food and eat it without thought to either process or consequence.
Even if, from a purely scientific perspective, you aren’t going to burn more fat or even create an environment where you’re less likely to store fat, I thoroughly believe that the more systems in place that force compliance, the better you’ll do.
Ultimately, my belief is that by dividing macronutrients in this manner (or attempting to as much as possible), you are much more likely to hit the mark than to miss it in terms of your diet. Certainly, this dietary principle is not graven in stone, but I have found that by adhering to it, you wind up creating and eating meals that fall in line to a significantly higher degree than most.
This is a simple rule you can follow which, by it’s very nature, will force you to think about your food more critically, and become a lot more accustomed to making correct dietary decisions. It’s a rule I follow, one my coaching clients follow, and if you follow it, I promise you’ll find that results come a LOT easier.
And, by the way—I’m not the only one that thinks like this.
In his awesome cookbook, Metabolic Cooking (the best cookbook for fat loss), Dave Ruel has an entire system called “meal profiling” which divides meals by their macronutrients; a good number of which are broken up into P+F and P+C meals, as with my stuff.
Metabolic Cooking is available for you today so make sure you hop on the delicious food train.
NOTE: Here is a quick link jump to the entire series: