If you are one of those who think that the only efficient method of losing excessive body fat and shaping the body is drastic cut on the intake of carbohydrates, you're wrong. Certainly, low-carb diets may be a good tool in fighting against overweight and obesity, but they don't have to be the optimal way of obtaining slim and muscular body at the same time, in every single case. If you have already managed to work out average physical condition and muscles, and you would currently like to improve your form and achieve the dream body, try to make friends with carbohydrates.
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The aim of the balanced reduction diet
Let's agree to one thing, that the well-planned reduction is not about just “losing weight”, but about improving the appearance, positively changing the body proportions and making the hidden under fat detailes more visible. Well-balanced reduction diet is supposed to correspond with expectations and let you burn as much fat as possible with the smallest loss of muscle tissue and as small as possible decrease of effort abilities. Is such result possible to achieve without extreme limitation of consuming carbohydrates? Yes, it is! Especially in case of hard-training sports people and physically active people.
In the context of body fat reduction, there's a lot of information that the presence of carbohydrates in diet, because of competition, decreases the use of spare fat in the energetic processes and increases the secretion of insulin. This way it rather fosters gathering than expending energy. But there is one, often omitted fact, that carbohydrates have few important advantages. First of all, proper intake of these nutrients may foster sustaining high intensity of training, second of all – it makes recovery easier, third of all – it decreases the activity of the catabolic cortisol. Besides, in some cases, skillfull manipulation of the carbohydrate intake may prevent from excessive decrease of the level of leptin, which is connected with such results, as slowing down metabolism, worse mood and increased appetite.
Balanced reduction diet in practice
The preparation of the well-balanced reduction diet should be started with setting the daily energy demand, which you can do by using a mathematical pattern.
Then you should set the percentage of body fat in your body. You can measure the folds on your body, use body content analysers or a simple application (it's about giving estimate value):
If you know those numbers, you should set the energetic deficit. I suggest defining it on the lower level than the percentage of body fat at the beginning. In other words, if your daily demand is 3300 kcal, and the level of body fat is 12%, you should start the reduction from the level of 2900 kcal, not lower. This value is not precise, but it's rather a starting point. During using the diet, the calorific deficit will probably have to become deeper because of the progress of metabolic adaptation of the body to lower intake of energy.
In a balanced reduction diet, the daily protein intake should be about 2 – 2.5g per 1 kg of lean body mass, and for majority of cases it is advised to be divided into 3 – 5 meals a day. The content of proteins may be increased in case of larger appetite (protein has the ability of suppressing the feeling of hunger), or in case of using hormonal doping in a form of androgenic- anabolic steroids. The basic source of protein should be low-processed animal-origin foodstuffs, such as meat (especially beef from the free range husbandry, venison), fish (best would be sea fish), eggs, dairy products and sea food. The complement of the daily portion of protein may be those proteins found in cereals, nuts and seeds.
The consumption of fat should range between 20 – 30% of the daily energy supply, but it's very important to include more monounsaturated fatty acids (olive oil, avocado, rapeseed oil, almonds) than others, which are not adverse for the insulin sensitivity in the company of carbohydrates, but they may even improve it. Consuming saturated fatty acids (animal products, coconut oil) should be kept on the level not higher than 10% of the daily energy supply just in case. 4 – 8% of the daily calorific balance should be taken from the polyunsaturated fatty acids, whereas, the ratio of the omega 3 to omega 6 acids should range between 1:1 to 1:4. You should definitely avoid trans fatty acids present in hard margarine, sweets and fast-food dishes.
The consumption of carbohydrates is highly individual and requires skillful observation of the body. In general, it is believed, that the intake of this component from diet should be as high as possible, i.e. it should allow to effectively reduce fat. Depending on the kind of training load, the level of body fat and body type, the consumption of carbohydrates should range from 2.5 to 4g per 1 kg of lean body mass. There's no need of eating carbohydrates in each meal. The best time to include them in the dishes is after workout, when you can eat half of the daily limit of this nutrient. The proper quality of carbohydrate products is essential: rice (basmati, parboiled, wild and brown), groats (especially white buckwheat), also potatoes, sweet potatoes – these are the best sources of carbohydrates. The complement may be fruit, non-starch vegetables and the remaining cereal products obtained from wholemeal flour.
Vitamins and minerals
Reduction diet cannot be poor in any nutrients. Of course, counting all the vitamins and elements without the special computer program may be hard and tiring, but, fortunately, there are a few ways of decreasing the risk of having insufficiency. Most of all, the diet should be based on low-processed food, which is a much better source of nutrients than highly-processed food products. Second of all, diet should be differentiated, eating the same things every day increases the risk of generating and worsening the deficiency. Third of all, there has to be some space for fish in the diet (2 – 3 times a week), nuts (once a day), fresh vegetables (to every meal) and some, symbolic, amount of fruit (after workout or in the morning).
Well-balanced reduction diet may be an interesting alternative for low-carb diets, especially in case of sports people or very active people. Proper approach to the matter of energy demand, appropriate intake of macro nutrients, as well as thorough choice of food products, are the three key factors of diet, which influence the efficiency of reduction. The nutrition assumptions mentioned above, after some modifications, can compose well with the nutrition models based on the concept of intermittent fasting.