Recently I read an email from a famous YouTuber about a skinny-fat to fit success story he has.
“Skinny-fat to SHREDDED… without giving up his favorite foods”
I call bullshit on this title because it deviates from the truth.
Yeah, the guy may have gotten in shape while having cheat meals here and there (all my clients have at least 1 weekly cheat meal while going through their fat loss).
But there’s no way you will achieve sustainable fat loss while including the most delicious foods on a regular basis.
I know this from first-hand experience because up until age 20 I had never been lean before in my life (and then I got lean and kept most of the fat off since).
I truly have the “hunger gene” and the “fat gene”.
With the exception of a few people who live a very active lifestyle, my whole family is fat with a naturally big appetite.
You see… we all have a genetic body-fat set point.
This is where our body naturally wants to be.
This is where you were as a teenager when just eating the way you like.
A great example is the naturally skinny guy with a naturally low appetite vs. the the naturally fat guy with a big appetite.
One of them stays lean without trying much while the other one has to work hard to get leaner.
In order to get below that natural set point, you have to go hard on your training and diet and you have to do it consistently for a long time.
Once you deviate from your routine, your body-fat will naturally creep back and you will slowly return to your set point.
This is why 90% of people who lose fat, regain it within 5 years.
What happens is that the people who lose fat use strategies that are not sustainable long-term.
They go hungry throughout the day, wake up multiple times a night hungry then go back to sleep and do excessive amounts of hardcore cardio to get to that physique.
Essentially they live like a pro bodybuilder getting ready for a show (but without all the drugs and hormonal support to get through it).
We only have a finite amount of willpower, therefore at some point you’re going to budge and go back to your old habits.
This is why in order to get lean and stay lean, it’s crucial to eat a diet full of foods that have a high satiety index.
Surprisingly, the food that has the highest satiety index is boiled white potatoes.
White potatoes have been scrutinized as a bad diet choice, but that’s only when they’re mashed and prepared with lots of butter and milk.
The added fats from butter and milk makes them very Calorically dense and palatable.
In contrast, when white potatoes are boiled, they provide the most satiety per Calorie. This means they’re the most filling food out there for your diet – per Calorie.
Other great foods with a high satiety index are:
- Lean protein sources: Chicken breast, turkey breast, tilapia, tuna, egg whites.
- High fiber foods: Oatmeal, sweet potatoes, berries, green leafy vegetables.
- Foods that contain lots of water volume: Watermelon, melon.
These foods are very filling.
The fiber is filling because it stretches out your stomach after eating and thereby makes you feel full. This is why people that eat a diet high in fiber are generally much leaner.
Similarly, foods like watermelon that contain lots of water volume have very few Calories compared to their volume.
These foods may bloat you and make you carry a lot of water weight, but don’t worry about that.
Fluctuations in water weight are not important. It’s fat loss we are after.
So your weight in the evening may be 5-10 pounds higher after eating lots of fiber rich foods and drinking lots of water, but over the long term you will lose body-fat.
You have to pack your diets full of these foods if you are a naturally fat person with high appetite levels.
Don’t fall for the low carb or KETO diet because most of the weight you lose on it is simply water weight.
That 10 pounds you lose is water so you look instantly leaner.
Use KETO for a few days if you want to achieve diuresis and look good for a photo, but don’t use it long-term.
Unless you have a doctor supervising you and a medical reason to use it, KETO is not optimal for health or fat loss because most of the diet is based on animal fats.
The animal fats are very high in Calories and easy to overeat on. 1 gram of fat contains 9 Calories while 1 gram of carbs and protein contains 4 Calories.
Foods rich in protein and fiber are much more filling than fats.
This is why white potatoes turn into a bad food when they’re mashed and mixed with milk and butter.
It’s the fat from milk and butter that makes them tasty, high in Calories and easy to overeat on.
Plain boiled white potatoes are very hard to overeat on.
In addition, animal fats are terrible for cardiovascular health.
You are more likely to get clogged arteries, higher blood pressure, high cholesterol and a much higher risk of cardiovascular problems.
These are important factors to consider when setting up a diet. Don’t choose quick water weight loss over your long-term health.
Alternatively you can go the “healthy KETO” route where you eat anti inflammatory fats from wild caught fish, but it’s going to get very expensive (and perhaps eating fish all day long is not your thing).
Therefore, KETO is generally not a diet I recommend for sustainable fat loss. In 8 years of coaching people, I have never had to use KETO to get someone lean.
Anyways, the point is that if you want to lose fat you have to eat foods that are filling and these are lean proteins, fiber rich foods and foods high in volume.
And while these foods can be made in a way that’s delicious, they’re generally not anyone’s favorite foods.
Most people would choose white bread over oatmeal and chicken thighs over chicken breast, but these choices are not ideal for long-term fat loss.
Foods with a high satiety index are generally not as palatable. That’s why they’re so hard to overeat on.
That’s also what makes them so great for someone who’s fighting their genetic body-fat set point and is trying to get lean.
Most of the guys you see doing well eating anything they like as long as they hit their macros, are guys that are naturally skinny with a low appetite or guys that use lots of stimulants (energy drinks, coffee etc) to surpress appetite. And chugging down coffee and energy drinks while being in a Caloric deficit and training hard has other long-term health implications (i.e. high stress on the adrenals or high blood pressure for some people).
It just doesn’t work long-term for someone with a high genetic body-fat set point and a naturally high appetite.
Therefore, getting lean in a sustainable way always requires some level of discipline and sacrifice. Don’t believe the marketers who sell you on the idea that you can eat anything you want as long as Calories are factored in.
This idea that all Calories are equal doesn’t factor in the psychology of diet — which is equally important to the hard science.
When someone with a naturally high appetite starts eating their favorite foods, this can quickly lead to a binge that ruins the entire week’s worth of dieting.
We all know when we have one bite of that favorite sugary or salty food, it quickly leads to finishing the entire pack. It’s hard to stop at just 1.
Therefore, take my advice and set up healthy lifestyle habits to achieve fat loss. Don’t fall for the idea that you can eat anything you want while getting your dream physique.
Be proud but stay hungry!
Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Personal Trainer