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Diet and Weight Loss Principles

Energy Balance

Weight loss or Fat Loss is a process of burning or oxidizing more fat then what is stored. This is called Fat Flux. This is a similar analogy to water flowing into and out of a Damn. If water enters the damn faster than it is released the water level will rise. In the same way when Fat enters adipose cells faster than the rate it exits the net result will be weight or fat gain.

In order to lose weight there must either be an increase in the rate of fat breakdown or a decrease in the rate of fat storage.

Increasing the rate of fat breakdown

Fat breakdown can be accelerated by increasing energy expenditure, this can be achieved through exercise. Increasing the bodies total muscle mass will also raise the metabolic rate leading to an increase in resting energy expenditure. Drugs and endocrine hormones can also have an effect on the metabolism resulting in decreased fat storage or an increased metabolism. Including strength exercises in a training program is benefical for weight loss as it helps to increase total muscle mass resulting in a raised metabolic rate.  Performing endurance exercise also increases fat burning by directly increasing energy expenditure during the workout.  

Decreasing Fat Storage

Decreasing Fat storage can be achieved through dietary modification. Decreasing the number of Calories consumed will inevitably lead to a decrease in body fat storage. Most diets work on the principle of selling a particular product or formulae for weight loss. This ensures they have a product to market and a point of difference over another business’s. The truth is reducing the energy you consume will produce weight loss. There are some extra nutritional tips that will help you achieve this but beware there is no magic system that will explain why you failed to lose weight in the past. In short, Eat less and Exercise more.

Why does Energy intake matter?

Energy cannot be destroyed. It can only be used, stored or converted to another form of Energy. Once energy is consumed from food sources the energy must either be used or stored.

The immediate place of storage for this energy is the blood stream. Blood contains small traces of fats in the form of triglycerides and carbohydrates in the form of Glucose. These levels remain relatively constant.  The muscle and liver contain a secondary larger area of storage. The liver stores approximately 120 grams of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates can enter the blood stream and be utilized as fuel by the brain and muscles. Muscles can hold up to 400-700 grams of carbohydrates. Compared to the liver this is a large energy store. The carbohydrates stored in skeletal muscle though cannot re-enter the blood stream, instead they remain there until used by muscle tissue. It is important to note glycogen is stored with approximately 3 parts water to every part glycogen. The result is a series of heavy carbohydrate meals can cause a gain in weight of up to 2 kg’s. People incorrectly account this gain of weight as fat gain, but instead it can be attributed to carbohydrate and water storage.


Fat is the last and largest storage place for excess energy. Once muscle and liver stores of carbohydrates rise, carbohydrates are converted to fats and stored in adipose cells. Protein can in the same way be converted to fat once protein reserves are full.

The human body is adapted to all recieve energy from either of these forms and as a result it will oxidize or burn the fuel it is provided with. Eating a high carbohydrate diet will increase the amount or percentage of carbohydrates the body uses. Similarly eating a high fat diet will increase the percentage energy derived from fat.

“For this reason the percentage of energy you intake from fats, carbohydrates and proteins has less of an effect on the control of body fat levels than previously thought. What is more important is the total energy consumed”-

Energy where does it come from?

In humans energy is sourced from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Carbohydrates and proteins yield just below 17 kilojoules (kj) per gram, whilst fats yield 37kj’s per gram. Alcohol can also be used as an energy source and provides 29kj’s per gram.

A term called Energy Density is regularly used when referring to food intake. Energy density refers to the amount of energy per gram of a food or per gram of the macronutrient. The energy density of the macronutrient carbohydrates is 17 kilojoules/gram. Fat has a much higher energy density of 37 kilojoules/gram


How do we decrease our food intake to lose weight?

Diets – What works – The research

With the growth of the internet and more recently blogging and other forms of social media, information and opinions are now shared at a growing rate. This increase in information has left many consumers confused on which diets and health information to follow.

The following research will help debunk some common misconceptions and show you that:

  • Carbohydrates don’t make you fat
  • Decreasing Energy intake will result in weight loss
  • There are strategies you can implement to help you decrease your food intake and as a result lose weight

1) Reducing food intake or increasing exercise levels equals weight loss

The most important factor for fat loss is creating an energy deficit. This can be achieved through increasing exercise levels or decreasing food intake

  • Reduce portion sizes
  • Learn about the energy content of your food
  • Keep a food diary
  • Perform cardiovascular exercise 3 times per week and strength / circuit exercises twice per week
  • Complete our Nutrition Survey on a fortnightly basis to make sure your adhering to the best weight loss practices
  • Increase incidental exercise such as walking to the shops or work

2) Carbohydrates don’t make you fat, but fat might

Eating Carbohydrates will not make you fat, instead excess energy intake will. Many Studies show Decreased Body Fat levels with higher Carbohydrate intakes. Carbohydrate foods tend to contain higher fibres levels and lower energy densities then fatty foods, making them a better choice for weight loss

  • Avoid over-eating fatty foods. These foods are high in energy and have lower satiety
  • When choosing carbohydrates chose lower GI, full fibre or wholegrain versions. Limit Sugary foods
  • Read the nutritional label on packaged dinners, biscuits and bars. Generally these foods contain higher fat contents and energy levels then fresh foods
  • Prepare more of your own lunches and dinners. Takeaway food and convenience foods tend to be higher in fat

3) Fructose, Sugar and Weight Gain

Both fructose and sugar are metabolised differently to glucose. A High sugar consumption leads to an increase in blood triglycerides, which contributes to the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Evidence in animal studies suggests a strong link between sugar intake and weight gain, in humans the connection is less transperant but likely still exists.

  • limit fruit intakes to 2-4 serves per day
  • Have no more then one serving of sweets or one treat per day
  • Choose foods containing No Added Sugar
  • Ensure Sugar doesn't appear on the ingredients list before the main ingredients of the product. For example when choosing muesli, Ingredients: Oats, Sugar, Barley, Bran, mixed fruit.... would indicate there is more sugar then barley, bran or mixed fruit
  • Attempt to keep individual sugar intake per meal to below 15 grams. This would be one serving of fruit or 250 mls of a sweetened drink.
  • Keep sugary foods to one per meal, ie if sweetened drinks are being consumed avoid lollies, chocolates or dessert. Similary if having dessert avoid cooking with added sugars for the rest of that meal
  • Watch for bad guys disguised as good guys. Cereals, muesli and health bars, protein or nutrition powders, and sports drinks all use health marketing to promote their product. This doesn't mean the product is healthy. Quite often cereals contain large amounts of sugars, look for lower sugar options containing less then 15 grams of sugar per 100 grams

4) Glycaemic Index (GI)

Lower GI foods have possible benefits for reducing body fat levels, along with improving cholesterol profiles. This may be a result of the higher fibre content found in low GI foods or to improved satiety and a decreased conversion of low GI carbohydrates into triglycerides (fats)

  • Eat lower GI snacks in between meals. Try Fruits, yogurts, mixed beans, left over pastas and vegetables
  • Include small to moderate amounts of protein or fats with carbohydrates
  • Try lower GI versions of bread, rice and cereal
  • When snacking eat foods in there rawer state. Cook vegetables such as brocoli, peas, carrots and cauliflower until crispy not over-cooked
  • Don't overeat High GI foods, instead mix meals so that lower GI foods are eaten within the same meal

5) Energy Density

One of the signals of hungar is related to food levels within the stomach. Eating low energy density foods creates an increased feeling fullness due to larger size to energy ratio of the food consumed. This can reduce daily energy intake contributing to weight loss

  • Include higher fibre foods such as legumes, beans, vegetables, fruits and grains
  • Trim visible fat from meats
  • Eat real fruits and vegetables rather then dried fruits and precooked meals
  • Cook meats using Herbs and Spices rather the crumbed and battered
  • Snack on raw or less refined foods, chances are these will contain lower energy contents
  • Eat less packaged biscuits, sweets and deserts
  • Chocolate - Try to reduce you intake its loaded

6) Fibre and Satiety

Higher fibre foods increase satiety which is the feeling of satisfaction or fullness. Fibre slows the rate of release of nutrients from the stomach and also provides a bulking effect of food within the stomach. This has been shown to limit day to day food intake and help with weight loss

  • Increase Fruit and Vegetable consumption
  • When choosing fruits leave the skin on where applicable
  • Eat snacks such as beans, nuts and wholegrain crackers rather then refined biscuits, cakes and chocolates
  • Choose wholemeal, wholegrain or rye breads
  • Include vegetables in meat dishes, add a side of salads or vegetables to a meal
  • Choose a high fibre breakfast cereal
  • Consume less sugary drinks, juices and lollies


7) Protein and Weight Loss

Protein has a similar effect as low GI carbohydrates on stabilizing blood glucose, with possible benefits in controlling weight. Excess protein is converted into Glucose and provides a stable source of blood glucose. The benefits of protein are possibly negated by the higher fat contents found with protein rich foods. For this reason the recommendation is to choose lean protein sources providing 10-15% of your daily energy requirements. Slightly higher consumptions up to 25% of daily energy requirements are safe, whilst debate remains as to whether excess consumption beyond this level is detrimental to health

  • Choose lean minces, and sausages and trim visible fats from meat cuts
  • Include a protein source with carbohydrate based meals. This could be either fish, chicken, beef, diary, beans or eggs.
  • Aim for 1 serving of meat, 1 serving of beans or legumes and 2-3 servings of diary a day
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