Fitness and nutrition are my passions. I’ve conducted a lifelong experiment on myself in order to find the easiest way to lose fat and develop lean muscle, and as a result, I’m now a fat loss expert. Fat loss results in far more benefits than just improving your body composition. You’ll also feel better, have more energy, and improve your long term health. But if you’re being honest, your short-term goal is probably to lose some fat so you look better. So what’s the secret to losing fat? It’s much simpler than you ever imagined.
The secret to losing fat is to eat more fat and eat less carbohydrates.
Before getting into why you should eat more fat and less carbs, you’ve got to get your head around two big ideas.
First, carbohydrates are not essential. Second, saturated fats and cholesterol are good for you.
That’s right, we do not need to eat carbohydrates. Fats and proteins are essential nutrients but carbs are not. Most of our energy needs can be met with ketones, which are an alternative cellular fuel to carbohydrates, or glucose. Our bodies are well adapted to convert fats into ketones. We do require a small amount of blood glucose, but proteins can provide that. Our bodies can convert both carbohydrates and proteins to blood glucose, but not fats. Through a process called gluconeogenesis, we are able to maintain normal blood glucose levels without dietary carbohydrates*.
Second, the myth that saturated fat and cholesterol are “bad for you” has been shattered. The false narrative was born in the 1950’s out of bad science, corrupt politics, and shady business interests. We now know that saturated fat and cholesterol are anti-inflammatory. There is overwhelming evidence that inflammation is not caused by eating fat and cholesterol but rather by eating too many carbohydrates, which quickly convert to blood sugar. Elevated blood sugar causes insulin spikes and leads to insulin resistance, which causes inflammation. The problem is carbs, not fats.
Most of the foods that we’ve been misled for decades to believe are “good” carbohydrates are in fact not so good after all – I discuss this at length in my book, “Get Fit, Lean and Keep Your Day Job.” USDA recommendations rest on bad science. Unfortunately, most modern medicine practitioners also endorse the same false dogma. Even most nutritionists continue to advocate
eating a “balanced diet” consisting of whole grains, rice, and root vegetables. If not consumed in very small portions, all of these carb sources will raise your blood sugar, spike your insulin, and lead to inflammation - the root cause of most non-communicable diseases and metabolic disorders including obesity, heart disease, Type II diabetes, and cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Dementia.
In the simplest of terms, there are only two kinds of “good carbs”; green vegetables and fruit. It’s nearly impossible to over eat “greens”. Both are great sources of essential micronutrients however fruits should be limited because most pack a lot of, albeit bound in fiber, sugar.
The good news is that once you embrace a high fat, low carbohydrate lifestyle, shedding fat is easier than ever. You’ll also feel better, have more energy, and improve your health and wellness.
Please allow me to share my experience with you. Just over a year ago, I planned a photo shoot for my 51st birthday. Like I had approached Men’s Physique competitions in past years, I began cutting calories and increasing my cardio about 8 weeks out. I thought I was on a low carb nutrition plan. I wasn’t. I was still fueling my body with carbs - eating grains, brown rice and root vegetables. Although I was hungry and irritable all the while, it worked. I got leaned out for the photos as planned. I held it for 1 day then binged on decadent meals and put 10 pounds back on in a couple of days.
Just as I was thinking there’s got to be a better way, serendipity struck. It started when a friend posted a CNBC article on Facebook. The piece featured Virta Health, a tech startup whose mission is to reverse Type II Diabetes by putting people on a low-carb, high-fat “ketogenic diet”. Like Sami Inkinen, Virta’s founder, I believe food is medicine. I also believe we’re perfectly evolved to thrive on a high fat, low carb diet. I took a deep dive into understanding ketosis.
The seed had been planted three years ago when my dad was diagnosed with Dementia. I decided then that I should lead by example. I began following what I thought was a ketogenic nutrition plan. But I now realize that I didn’t go far enough. I was still eating too many carbs and protein while not eating enough fat. I eventually convinced my dad to drastically reduce his carb intake and eat more fats. Since leaning heavily towards a keto plan, my Dad has reduced the meds, feels much better, and has lost a lot of weight.
This year, I got more serious about keto. I leaned out on my new keto plan but unlike previous years, when I got ripped for a day, I’ve easily held it for months. Last year, like every time before, the fat loss was a struggle. This year, it was easy and I’m finding it nearly effortless to maintain. In addition, I no longer struggle through my cardio workouts. In fact, I feel like I’ve got more energy than ever before. What’s the difference?
I’m now in a state of nutritional ketosis. The only carbs I eat are green, mostly leafy, veggies and limited low glycemic fruits like blueberries and strawberries. I’ve reduced my carbs to less than 50 grams a day and increased my fat to two-thirds of my total calories. I’m also eating less protein. Despite the popular Bro Science in bodybuilding circles, you don’t need to eat tons of protein to build and maintain lean muscle. You need to be aware that our bodies are able to convert protein to blood glucose which results in the same inflammatory insulin spike we get from over eating carbs.
Most people think that following a keto plan means depriving yourself of good food. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I love to eat well. I’m not hungry all the time but rather pleasantly satiated. Nearly 70% of my calories come from fat, mostly saturated fats. I eat whole eggs, butter, red meat, cold water fish, avocados, nuts, whole-fat Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese. Less than 10% of my calories come from carbohydrates. The remainder of my calories (20%) comes from protein. I recommend using a calorie counting app so you can track your macro nutrient percentages as well as total calories.
My message is perfectly in line with Mother Nature’s plan. Look at human evolution. For millions of years as hunter gathers we thrived on animal fat and protein. We only began eating grains and root vegetables very recently with the domestication of agriculture. We are perfectly designed to thrive on a diet of mostly fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrates. Want to feel great, improve your health, and shed some fat? Enjoy your butter, egg yolks, red meat and cold water fish.
Yours in Fitness and Nutrition,
JD Griffin, CNC, Author, Get Fit, Lean and Keep Your Day Job
*Jeff S. Volek and Stephen D. Phinney, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living