healthy eating

Understanding food for fat loss

Renee Ticzon
Understanding food for fat loss
Answering questions about the power of dieting in fat loss

Food is one of those things that people have mixed feelings about.

Some people treat their meals as a time to celebrate, gather, or bond with friends and family; whereas others tend to see food as their enemy in their fight against fat loss.

For many who are trying to lose weight, the term “diet” is a cause of much fear and confusion.

Oftentimes, when we hear of people who are on a diet, we think of people who are purposefully limiting the kind of food they consume – whether this means eating ridiculously small portions or forgetting about crispy pata and lechon altogether.

However, food should not be daunting. In fact, if we knew more about food and understood how it can work to help us reach our desired body goal, then we can form a healthy relationship with this basic necessity and our bodies.

To help us understand more about how food can aid a fat loss journey, registered nutritionist dietitian and member of the Philippine Association of Nutrition Vino Orajay will help us answer some questions about food and nutrition.

Are there any ‘bad carbs’?

One thing we need to know about carbs even before we begin with understanding them fully is that there is no such thing as “bad carbs.” Like any other kind of food, carbohydrates should always be eaten in moderation in order for it to be healthy.

“There’s a notion that bad carbs have no benefits for you, which is not true.” says Orajay.

In fact, these carbs as it is often called, are present in most food from different food groups. Carbohydrates are usually associated with grains like rice and noodles or starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn. However, these so-called carbs are actually present in almost all the food we eat, like dairy, fruit and vegetables.

Unfortunately, there is a widespread misconception of how carbs are unhealthy and must be avoided, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Because of this idea, people tend to limit or completely cut out this essential food group in order to reach their goal.

In reality, there is no one food group that should be avoided. Carbohydrates, if eaten in moderation is extremely necessary especially for one’s digestive system because of all the fiber it contains.

To further clarify, let’s look at the two types of carbohydrates namely the complex and refined carbohydrates.

The first type is the complex carbs which include whole grains, fruits and vegetables. This kind of carbohydrates contain high levels of fiber and take longer to get broken down by the body. It is often less processed compared to its counterparts, making them richer in essential nutrients our body needs.

On the other hand, refined carbohydrates are the less nutritious alternative. This type often has a lower amount of fiber because it has been processed more thoroughly before consumption. Refined carbs would include food that have flour and sugar as its most active ingredient such as white rice, pastries and processed fruit juices. 

While eating complex carbs are richer in fiber and nutrients, the general rule is to balance out your meals in order to stay healthy. Refined carbs may be less healthy than its alternative, but this type of carbohydrates still has its benefits and should not be completely removed – rather regulated.

Does a specific type of fruit make you fat?

For starters, Orajay reminds us that “any type of food can make you fat if you eat too much” – whether it’s fruits or vegetables, overeating a certain type of food (even if it’s healthy) can still be bad for you.

Fruits are tricky though, since they are rich in vitamins and nutrients, but they also contain carbohydrates and fructose which is a form of sugar.

As mentioned previously, fruits and fruit juices are classified differently for good reason. Fresh, unprocessed fruits are a great source of fiber which comes from its skin, and other water-soluble vitamins that are essential to our bodies, like Vitamin C.

Manufactured fruit juices, on the other hand, are typically processed with different preservatives and sugar to be able to standardize its taste. Additionally, one of its key elements, fiber, is completely removed from the mixture giving you that smooth texture typically coming from bottled or canned drinks.

Therefore, when consuming fruits especially in your weight loss journey, be very critical of where these delicious snacks are coming from because the “fruit” in most items does not necessarily mean it’s healthy.

However, if you want to find a snack to chow down, try checking out low-calorie, nutrient dense food. This would include salad greens like lettuce, oatmeal, fatty fish and lean meat. Focus on looking for food with a high level of protein and fiber, to keep you fuller longer!

Is it possible to get abs purely out of diet?

Most people know that losing belly fat is one of the biggest struggles when talking about fat loss. There is a tendency to go absolutely crazy about working your core muscles every day or eating extremely limited in order to form the small bumps on a flat stomach.

Yes, eating properly will give you a flat stomach, but proper exercise will help give the toned abs that you may be looking for. Even if diet is one of the biggest things to get you closer to the goal, completely neglecting your workout will also be a problem in the long run.

If the goal is to lose weight while toning your muscles, then exercise is still important.

It’s also good to note that if your target is to lose your belly fat, then do target overall fat loss. Do not focus your exercise on doing core workouts alone, since “you can’t target fat loss in a specific area of your body,” reiterates Orajay.

The power of eating in one’s fat loss journey is incredible. While focusing on the right portions is key to staying healthy, do not limit yourself too much by cutting your favorite food for the sake of fat loss.

Eating a tub of ice cream daily might not be the best idea but having a slice or two of cake on your days off is absolutely fine.

Just know that nutrition is all about balance. While 80% of your fat loss will come from the choices you make in food, 20% will be still be from you putting in work. –

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