What we know about fat loss is that energy balance is matters. That means as long as you’re in a calorie deficit, meaning your intake is less than you burn, you’re likely to lose weight. Alternatively, being in a calorie surplus means that you eat more than you burn which may either cause you to put on fat or can be used as a means of bulking to gain muscle. When people cut out entire food groups, they may see rapid weight loss and believe that the only way to achieve results is be cutting out those food groups again. Unfortunately, even though this may help someone achieve fast results it’s unlikely that these types of crash diets are sustainable.
Carbs don’t make you fat, however, eating more than you burn will contribute to fat accumulation regardless of whether it’s a protein, carb or fat. However, it is easy to overeat carbs since they aren’t very satiating but they’re quite enjoyable to eat. A sustainable diet is one that you can adhere to for months at a time without feeling like you’re being deprived all the time. Can someone go months without eating bread/pasta/anything that makes you somewhat happy? Probably, but why should they when there are less exhausting ways to achieve the same results. Now this isn’t the same as someone who’s intolerant to certain food. Alternatively, I’ve had people suggest that they’re intolerant when really, they’re just afraid of eating the food and gaining weight. There is a lot of misinformation being spread about nutrition that often leads to the demonization of certain food, which is unnecessary and harmful.
Additionally, when cutting out entire food groups some people don’t realize that they’re cutting out nutrients as well. For example, even though we don’t need carbs our body still uses them for energy, especially if we’re relatively healthy and active individuals. They also make us feel good and are enjoyable to eat. For the average individual, there is a certain amount of fat, protein and carbs required for daily functioning. When depriving yourself of essential fats, for example by following a low fat diet, there could be hormonal implications. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of how diets can affect our mental and physical well-being beyond energy balance.
On the other hand, if you find that eating too many carbs makes you tired or gives you brain fog you may feel better on a higher fat diet rather than a higher carb one. This might matter a bit more when deciding between high fat versus lower carb diets or high carb versus lower fat diets. How you decide what to follow is based on your individual preference. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to play around with your fat and carb intake, or just simply notice which one you naturally gravitate to.
If we go one step further, we can tailor our diet to influence our body composition. Assuming you’re putting in the work at the gym, simply eating a higher protein diet can help improve our lean body mass. To go on a bit of a tangent, body recomposition can occur during the first 6 months to a year of proper training. This enables an individual to eat at their maintenance calories while losing fat and building muscle, rather than having to eat at a deficit or surplus.
Cutting out entire food groups or even demonizing them may yield quick results, which can be motivating. However, keeping a long-term perspective means that no one should be crash dieting forever. Over the long term, manipulation of your food intake isn’t as complicated as people make it out to be. Food preferences differ from individual to individual, therefore using a one-size fits all approach will only yield results for so long until you have to make some changes. Therefore, being in tune with your body and noticing what you like and how you feel is just as important as the diet itself.