The first thing I look at when I consult with a client is the level of processed carbohydrates they are consuming, as well as the amount of proteins and healthy fats in their diet. Because each person is so unique and has genetically different body types or somatotypes (Endomorph, Mesomorph, Ectomorph), this determines what way the body handles certain food groups. So it’s really important to understand that what works for one person may not work another. It’s also worth remembering that you should be eating unprocessed foods, meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, fish and eggs.
For a person who doesn’t exercise much and has a lot of weight to lose
This category is already probably fairly insulin resistant, therefore it’s important to get the body using fat for fuel as opposed to carbs. So I would recommend a high protein and fat diet composed of healthy , single ingredient foods. This will generate the production of ketones which, studies show, vastly improves the body’s chance to improve insulin sensitivity. I would start with less than 50 grams of carbs per day to instigate the fat burning process. Eat carbs from green leafy vegetables and other low sugar vegetables. Furthermore, eat fruits such as berries which are high in antioxidants and low in natural sugars. Nuts, seeds and avocado also contain lower carbs but offer healthy fats in the equation also.
You currently exercise but are still overweight
Like the example above, there is still a fair amount of insulin sensitivity happening. Shoot for the 50-100 grams per day zone. It’s fantastic that you are already training, however it’s worth considering more serious higher volume training like strength training. By building more muscles on your bones you can increase your metabolism and improve your insulin sensitivity so that you can eat more carbs. Get your carbs from loads of veggies, low carb fruits like berries and small amounts of carbs from nuts and seeds. After training you could introduce some starchy carbs like a cupped handful of potatoes or brown rice.
A hard training performance athlete who wants to strip body fat
This one is a little more tricky with more variables to consider. Considerations like, ‘is it the off season?’ or ‘do you need to be at your best to compete in your chosen sport?’. Furthermore, it’s worth determining if you are willing to put in extra hard work. A recent study showed that top elite male gymnasts reduced their body fat to 5.5 percent in a month using a low-carb ketogenic diet. However, it is worth noting that it requires pushing through workouts on low glycogen stores which can be very challenging. Another great tip for athletes looking to strip fat fast is carb cycling. Aim for 150-300 grams of carbs on heavy training days and aim for less than 100 grams on non training days. This helps with optimal performance when training.
You have been eating low carb and reached a plateau
There is still work that can be done if you have stopped reaching your fat loss goals. Start measuring your calorie intake. When starting a low carb plan it’s normal to naturally eat less calories due to a decrease in hunger caused by the increase in protein. Unbalanced hormones and gut health may be out of whack. Try increasing the amount of high fibre vegetables which guts health thrive upon. Try to reduce cortisol, balance thyroid by trying to eat a little more carbs or by carb cycling. Depending on your physical activity and current level of body fat, it may be worth carb cycling by increasing your carbs to 200 grams on training days and reducing to 100-150 gram range on non training days.