Fat Loss Vs Weight Loss
It’s time we addressed the burning question that captivates warring diet tribes. And it’s a fair one. Thanks to the high performing standard western diet, most people dip into nutritional programmes with fat loss at the front of their minds. Most people also hate being forced into a deficit and away from their Krispy Kreme doughnuts, so it pays to know which one gets you over the line the fastest.
As it happens, we’re in luck, because the carnivore diet has all the makings of the front-runner.
But let me throw in a quick caveat. Just remember that we’re discussing shedding ‘fat’ rather than ‘weight’, which is a mix of fat and muscle loss. Since we should like the idea of retaining great energy levels and holding shape in the right areas, lean mass should be protected at all costs. Through that logic, any fat loss programme worth its salt has to be able to tick the following boxes.
1. Maintain the performance needed to retain muscle mass.
2. Maintain the nutrition, AKA protein count, needed to repair muscle mass.
3. Lose fat as efficiently as possible.
Now that those criteria have been given much-needed airtime, let’s look at how the carnivore diet does just that, and more.
How Carnivore Puts The Rockets On Fat Loss
1. There’s an obvious absence of carbs, leading to a low insulin state, leaving fat loss to happen in an unbroken fashion across the day.
2. No carbs also spells the inevitable depletion of liver glycogen, allowing ketones to work their fancy magic on enhancing fat loss and curbing appetite.
3. An abundance of saturated fat, which can result in further boosts to fat loss by wasting energy as heat.
4. Improvements in fat utilisation, reflected by lowering of blood triglycerides, which allows the body to pluck more of its energy needs from its own stores.
5. Lowering of systemic inflammation, curbing insulin resistance and releasing the brakes on fat loss.
6. High nutrient density, avoiding nutrient deficiencies that can wreck the metabolism and derail the diet.
7. Mammoth protein content, protecting against muscle loss that would otherwise come at the cost of more fat loss.
8. Ketones themselves are also anti-catabolic to the muscle, by replacing amino acids as a fuel source, freeing them up to combat protein breakdown.
9. Ketones go on to reduce ghrelin and suppress appetite, improving dietary adherence.
With all these points in mind, I’d be happy to step out and say that carnivore is the ultimate weight loss aid. It’s healthy, it’s sustainable, and it takes place at a rate of knots. But just how fast are we talking?
Why Rapid Weight Loss Can Do More Harm Than Good
One pound a week is actually a great pace, but it won’t impress the fanatics looking to lose three stone with a wedding rapping on the door. Two pounds a week is phenomenal, and completely possible on carnivore, but people can get greedy when the scale starts to plummet. So how about three?
Over a short stretch, you might be able to get it done, depending on your baseline metabolic rate. Let’s go very basic and say that a pound of fat is worth 3500 calories, meaning a 500 calorie daily deficit across the week will result in roughly a pound lost. If your baseline metabolism, including the costs of both existing and activity, is up at 3000, then shaving it down to 2500 will be a walk in the park.
Then let’s try upping the rate to two pounds a week, which requires at least a 1000 calorie deficit. 2000 might seem like a measly amount, but it’s still a metric ton of nutrition when it’s composed of steak, eggs, and the occasional liver.
Over my last carnivore cut, I got down to 2000 calories and lead a comfortable existence while holding onto my 1:1 fat to protein ratio. That meant I had enough ketones to give me the energy to get by, even at a steep deficit. My lifts basically stayed the same and didn’t drop, making me pretty confident that I’d held onto my lean mass.
Take that to three pounds, and you’re left with 1500 calories, which adds up to a 50% deficit. Now you’re forced to upset that precious That’s with a very generous starting metabolic rate. Chances are, you’re starting well below that mark. Especially if you’re a 140 pound female. With a starting baseline of 2000 calories, two pounds a week pulls you down to a dangerously low 1000 calories.
At the risk of painting with too general a brush, I generally wouldn’t recommend going below 1700 calories as a guy, and 1200 as a female. Or anywhere near, for that matter. That’s a floor that’s best busted open only if there’s a bodybuilding competition on the line, where you’re trying to bring fat mass down to the barest of margins.
Ignoring that floor can seriously compromise your ability to continuously fulfil the three golden rules of a healthy fat loss phase. You then have the choice of either lowering protein to subpar levels to maintain that golden macro ratio, or lowering fat to maintain the protein count. The former puts you at risk of muscle loss, and the latter puts you at risk of performance loss and appetite dysregulation.
With that being said, with carnivore’s unrivalled nutrient density to lose fat at a rate faster than the body would normally be comfortable with. If I tried 2000 calories of protein oats and chicken breast, I’d have a hard time keeping it up. In fact, that’s exactly what I used to do, and life was a struggle. That same quota with two pounds of brisket a day and I’m a completely different beast.
But my last cut came with some context, and I’d warn people against aiming for two pounds a week from the get-go. I was already fat-adapted, having spent more than a year going through variations of keto and carnivore.
I’d also spent a good chunk of that time bulking on an exorbitant amount of calories, meaning I’d provided the body with all the nutrition it could possibly need, and more. All the holes were plugged. The metabolism didn’t need to heal. The coast was clear for me to just tunnel in on increasing fat loss.
So How Fast Should You Go?
Most folks stepping into carnivore will be coming off the back of a high carb nutrient-deplete diet, and they’ll stand to benefit much from the healing powers of surplus steak. So they’d be best off finding out just how much they can get away with eating while shedding weight. More, the better.
So while carnivore might well be the most potent fast-loss enforcer on the market, I wouldn’t get too happy with the gas. A good rule of thumb would be to aim to lose between 0.5 – 0.75% of your starting bodyweight. If you want to speed things up, use that upper limit.
For a 200 pounder like me, that works out at 1.5 pounds a week.
If you’re 140 pounds, that’s just over 1 pound.
This formula scales with your bodyweight, making it a much better option than aiming for a flat 2 pounds a week while ignoring the fact that your metabolic baseline barely touches 2000.
With all this out of the way, you’ll probably end up beating my suggestions anyway, since the opening few weeks of decarbing will result in significant water loss and skewing the weekly average. Adding onto that, is the fact that both protein and saturated fat are highly thermogenic, wasting much of their energy as heat. Which equates to fewer calories absorbed and more fat loss.
Nothing to complain about. But try and up the calories if your maths is off and the pounds are falling too rapidly.
- The carnivore diet is practically unrivalled when it comes to fast and sustainable fat loss
- However, you also need to capitalise on its ability to invigorate health and wellbeing
- You can do that by eating the maximum amount while still forcing fat loss
- If you’re in a hurry, aim to lose 0.75% of your starting bodyweight each week