If you want to lose a few pounds or drop a dress size or two, watching your carb and fat intake is the way to go. The average American gets around 55 percent of her calories from carbs and 33 percent from fats. By lowering your intake, you automatically reduce your calorie consumption, which assists with weight loss. You needn't go "whole hog," eschew both nutrients completely and survive on purely grilled chicken and tilapia, though; a small reduction could be all you need.
You'll find carbs in high amounts in sugary and starchy foods such as rice, pasta, cereals, bread, candy, soda and high-sugar fruits like bananas and pineapple. Eating carbs, particularly processed ones, causes your blood sugar levels to rise quickly, which can make you hungry and cause you to eat more later in the day. You can lose weight quickly on a low-carb diet, but a lot of the initial weight loss is water and you may well put it all back on, advises Harvard Health. The first step in watching your carb intake is to switch to whole grain versions like brown rice and whole wheat bread, then to gradually reduce your portion sizes in favor of more dark green and brightly colored vegetables, beans and legumes.
Consuming too many fats can have detrimental effects not only on your waistline, but on your health. Sources of fat include oils, nuts, seeds, oily fish, full-fat dairy products, pastries and junk food. Very low-fat diets are often tasteless and not very filling, however. You could end up replacing all your fats with carbs, which would sabotage your weight loss plan, notes the team at Harvard. First, try to reduce your intake of the unhealthy fats found in processed foods and switch to better-quality ones like oily fish, olive oil, almonds and avocado. Then try to reduce your fat intake by cutting down portion sizes, switching to leaner meats and choosing lower-fat dairy products.
Carbs contain four calories per gram and fats contain nine calories per gram, so you can see how watching your intake can quickly lead to calorie reduction. Calories still count, though, and even if you're watching your carbs and fats you may still be overeating if you eat lots of protein, which also contains four calories per gram. Keep an eye on your calorie intake and progress. If you're losing less than 1 pound per week, consider reducing your calorie intake further.
Keep track of your carb and fat intake by tracking your food in a journal or an online database so you can see how much you're eating. When dining out, ask for dressings to be served on the side, meat and fish to be grilled and to swap high-carb side dishes like mashed potatoes or rice for salads and vegetables. At home, base your meals around lean proteins such as chicken, extra lean ground beef, cod, tuna steaks or vegetarian proteins like soy, along with plenty of vegetables. Add in just small amounts of carbs and fats.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.