All of this is important to understand because while the basics of changing your body composition are simple –energy balance– each person’s personal psychology and physiology will differ. Someone who’s never exercised before and has a lot of fat to lose will have different physiological and psychological requirements than someone who stopped training for a while and gained some body fat in the interim; conversely, a lean beginner is going to be in a different place than an overweight beginner.
Sometimes, to whip your body into shape, you have to get a little nutty. While nuts are high in fat, it’s that very fat that makes them such powerful weapons in the war against a ballooning belly. In fact, research from Reina Sofia University Hospital reveals that study participants who consumed a diet rich in monounsaturated fats, like those in nuts, over a 28-day period gained less belly fat than their saturated fat-consuming counterparts while improving their insulin sensitivity.
REALITY: Fat doesn’t make you fat—consuming too many calories does. Foods that contain fat are part of a healthy diet, help maintain your lean body mass, and assist with metabolic function. Healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, can be found in extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, almonds, avocados, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, flaxseeds, and more. If you want to lose fat, you need to eat fewer calories and/or burn more calories.
Digestive metabolism, or thermic effect of food (TEF): Simply digesting food—turning carbs into sugar and turning protein into amino acids—typically burns 10 to 15 percent of your daily calories. Digesting protein burns more calories than digesting carbohydrates or fat—about 25 calories for every 100 consumed. Digesting carbohydrates and fat burns about 10 to 15 calories for every 100 consumed.
The prevailing formula for a long time on how much fat you’re going to burn was calories in minus calories out, based on your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and exercise efforts, explains strength and performance specialist Joel Seedman, Ph.D., owner of Advanced Human Performance in Atlanta. But with all the different biochemical reactions in the body, hormonal response, and endocrine function, there are an infinite number of factors that can affect how your body is storing and breaking down calories.