Things That Don’t Matter For Fat Loss

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People start to focus on the wrong things for fat loss. And then it takes away from their energy to actually follow through on the right things. The things that actually work for a fat loss.

Eating Multiple Meals A Day For Fat Loss

We used to think that it was best to eat many times a day in order to stoke your metabolism. I’m pretty sure that’s actually what we used to say.

So we would tell our clients that it’s best not to have just those three meals, not breakfast, lunch and dinner. Make sure that you have a snack in between or eat five or six mini meals throughout the day.

Research has shown us that it doesn’t actually matter how many times you eat and whether you’re having two or three larger meals compared to five or six mini meals, as long as the total calories are the same. And what I found in the past is that often, if you tell people to have five or six mini meals, they turn into five or six reasonably sized meals. And all of a sudden someone’s actually eating more than they did before.

The Thermic Effect Of Food

There is something called the thermic effect of food. That’s how many calories your body expands processing and digesting a particular food. We’re gonna talk about that in a little bit more detail, because it’s relevant to some other points. But it isn’t really affected by how many times you eat.

So if you prefer just having two meals a day, that’s fine. If you prefer three or if you have three and a snack, which is what I usually do right now, then that’s fine as well. If you want to have a lot of mini meals and that suits your lifestyle. Totally cool too. So it’s really up to you.

What matters is the total amount of food that you’re eating over the course of the day for fat loss.

What Time Of Day You Eat

It’s also not important. What time of day you eat. So I often still hear people say, oh, I’m going to eat early on in the day.

So I have time to burn it off, but that’s not actually how your body works. If you didn’t have enough fuel in your body, then your body would go to your internal storage of energy and that’s your fat stores. And then you’d get fat loss. That would actually be a good thing, but you can eat your calories later in the day and they’re no more likely to be stored as fat than the calories that you have early on in the day.

The Hazards Of Eating At Night For Fat Loss

For some people, this feels hard to believe because they’ll tell me that, “Oh, I eat at night and if I didn’t eat at night, then I probably would lose weight.”

Well, what happens is that at night, usually people are tired and maybe they’re feeling after their meal that they wanna have a little bit more to eat. So they’ve probably eaten the right amount of calories to lose weight throughout the day.

And then they’re looking through the cupboards after their meal, trying to find something tasty. Most of those things are going to be highly processed, refined foods that are very high in calories, very calorie dense.

It’s easy to take in a lot of calories at once.

If you’re eating at night, you might also be eating in front of the TV.

That means that you’re maybe there with a bag of chips and you’re just consuming mindlessly a lot of calories. And that’s really the problem. The fact that you’re over consuming extra calories at night, rather than the fact that you’re eating the right amount of calories and having most of them later on in the day, the choice of what you’re eating in the evening will matter as well. How many extra calories you are adding on?

Not too many people walk around and think, “Hmm, I feel like something to eat. I’m gonna have a couple of stalks of broccoli.”

It’s just not what you’re looking for. If you did have a couple stocks of broccoli, I’m sure you wouldn’t go over your caloric intake. The evening can certainly be a dangerous time for a lot of people.

My Experience With Nighttime Snacking

I know it used to be a problem for me. I’d be searching for something after my dinner and now I kind of set myself a limit just so that I don’t overdo it. I have my treat after my meal and that’s it. And then I brush my teeth and that’s it. I’m done. So I don’t go back after that point. And that means I normally finish eating around seven or 7:30.

Now, if I went for more snacks after that, sure, they end, I’m going to be eating too much. I’m still enjoying my treats and I’m enjoying them as part of my plan, cause they do fit into my caloric budget for the day.

You Can Skip Breakfast?!

Skipping breakfast and having more of your calories later on is totally fine.

There was actually an interesting randomized control trial, where they had women who were non breakfast eats and then women who were breakfast eats. And basically they’re forcing them to have breakfast because they’re consuming more calories. They end up putting on weight because they’ve added breakfast.

Individual Preferences With Eating

So I never try to force clients who don’t like breakfast into having breakfast, unless it’s a case of they’re not getting enough protein. Then usually it’s something like a protein shape that I would think about.

But in general, I don’t try to force anyone to eat at times of day that are not convenient for them or don’t fit into their particular preferences because we know that the times that you eat your food don’t matter for fat loss.

Eating Organic Foods Don’t Matter For Fat Loss

Now here’s one that I fell for for a little while. Not so much for fat loss purposes, but for health reasons in terms of fat loss, it absolutely doesn’t make any difference whether you’re eating organic food or conventional foods. So whether that refers to whole foods like fruits or vegetables or you’re talking about processed foods, they’re pretty much the same thing, highly processed refined foods that are very easy to over consume.

If you actually look at the labels, you’ll see that they’re not lower in calories and that’s really what’s going to matter.

Just Eat ALL The Fruits And Vegetables For Fat Loss

Now the health issue is something I don’t wanna spend too much time on, but for the most part, there really isn’t much evidence that organic produce is higher in nutrients. So just eat all the fruits and vegetables.

Minimize your processed foods, whether that is regular crackers or organic crackers. It doesn’t really matter.

High Insulin Levels Don’t Matter For Fat Loss

Now here’s the one that’s gonna get some people kind of upset. Insulin levels. It’s another thing that doesn’t really matter for fat loss. Now the keto people and often the intermittent fasting crew as well, tend to talk a lot about insulin levels. They tell you that if your insulin levels are too high, then you’re not gonna be able to lose fat. Well, that’s not actually true. You can eat nothing but carbs and you’re still gonna lose fat.

As long as you maintain your calories at a level that will get you into a deficit.

This is not really controversial in science.

Carbs, Insulin & Appetite

Part of the problem is that when people eat a lot of carbs, it tends to increase their appetite. So that means they’re more likely to eat more carbs and more of other things, including those highly processed refined carbs that we are talking about, what other people call junk foods and what I call treat foods. Those foods are very high in calories.

They’re usually a mix of sugar and fat. So it’s not just that they’re carbs. They’ve got fat in there as well. So the issue is not coming just from the carbs it’s coming because it’s very calorically dense. If you eat more calories than your body needs, then you’re gonna put on fat.

I’m not recommending that you eat carbs all day long.

You want some fats, you need the protein to maintain your muscle mass, but that’s not to say that having carbs as part of a balanced diet is going to cause a problem. So you can have high insulin levels and still lose fat.

The Benefits Of Low Carb Diets

I’m not denying that low carb eating can be helpful. It certainly can for a lot of people. In fact, that’s what got me off that roller coaster that I was on for years, gaining weight, losing weight was like 10 or 15 pounds up and down and reducing carbs initially helped me get my appetite under control.

And then I was able to make better choices throughout the day. If I had more protein and fat early on. I wasn’t as hungry in the evening. And I wasn’t going into the cupboards looking for chocolate or I wasn’t plowing a pint of ice cream. It was more about breaking that cycle and all those habits that I used to have.

And that’s really important in terms of moderating your calorie intake over time.

Whatever helps you initially manage your appetite at the start is going to be helpful for fat loss. And that’s why low carb diets can still be a good start even though the insulin levels themselves are not the issue.

What Really Matters For Fat Loss

Now, based on the way that I’m talking. I think you can probably guess what, the only thing that matters for fat loss is.

Whether you’re in a calorie deficit or not.

A calorie deficit simply means that you’re expending more energy than your body needs to sustain itself in its current state.

Many times people will say, “Oh, I am in a calorie deficit, but I’m not losing any fat.”

Well, no, you’re not. You just think that you’re in a calorie deficit.

Issues With Calorie Counting

So if you’re counting calories and you’ve set up maintenance calories, and then you’ve estimated what it takes to get it, you into a calorie deficit, then those numbers can be off.

I mean, that’s part of the process of calorie counting. It is an estimate from both directions in terms of the food that you’re taking in and what you’re expending on a daily basis.

We can’t know exactly how much you’re burning off without putting you into a lab and testing that. And we don’t know exactly how many calories the food has because it varies a little bit. So you’re estimating on both sides to try to get things correct.

What A Calorie Deficit Actually Means

If you’re not losing any fat by definition, you’re not in a calorie deficit.

Now the macro split (that’s protein, carbs and fat percentage) can have a small impact on whether you’re able to lose fat, having more protein and more fat is going to help control your appetite. And that makes it easier to control your calories.

The Impact Of The Thermic Effect Of Food

The thermic effect of food comes into play here as well because protein is the most thermogenic nutrient.

That actually gives you the most thermic effect.

You’re burning off most calories with protein, you’re burning off less with carbs and little to almost none with fat.

Best Method Of Creating A Calorie Deficit

There was an interesting study where they found that fat loss depends entirely on an energy deficit or a caloric deficit.

Doesn’t matter how you produce that deficit. So it could be through nutrition, you’re changing your diet and that’s usually the best way to do it because it’s much easier. I explained that in a few other videos, how it’s much easier to just reduce your calories than it is to increase your energy expenditure significantly. Especially for those of us who are very busy, don’t have time to spend hours in the gym every day. It’s much easier to target your diet.

Now that you know what actually works for fat loss (getting into a calorie deficit), I’ve got videos that’ll help you with that.

Ivana Chapman

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 8-year-old boy. She is a YouTuber, writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training, chocolate, mountain biking, and ice cream...not always in that order of preference.
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