To lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume, which is known as creating a negative energy balance. Weight gain is the result of consuming more calories than you burn, which is known as a positive energy balance. Weight loss will occur in a negative energy balance whether you consume 75% carbohydrate or 75% fat. The macronutrient content of your diet (proportion of fat, carbohydrate, protein) does not matter provided you are consuming at least 15-20% of your diet from protein. Consuming more than 20% of your calories from protein (high-protein diet) does not provide any additional weight loss benefit.
It doesn’t matter whether you consume a low-carb, low-fat, high-protein, paleo, keto, alternate day fasting, time restricted feeding or very low-calorie diet (VLCD), they all work by helping you create a negative energy balance (Table 06.1).
There are hundreds (and maybe thousands) of other factors that influence weight loss (see The Paper Database) including but not limited to your genes, microbiome, chronotype, hunger, cortisol, insulin, emotional eating, short sleep duration, shift work, and time spent commuting but none of these factors are as important as creating a negative energy balance.
For example, even if you were to improve the composition of your microbiome, decrease your hunger, cortisol, insulin, emotional eating, and time spent commuting while also sleeping longer, getting a new job so you don’t have to do shift work anymore, and work from home to eliminate your time spent commuting, if you are in a positive energy balance you are still going to gain weight. And if you improved all those factors and were in a negative energy balance, you are still going to lose weight. Would you lose more weight if you had control of all of those factors? Maybe, maybe not. It is impossible to tell since controlling all of those factors would be borderline impossible to do.
The bottom line is, regardless of how you go about it, you need to induce a negative energy balance to lose weight. In our next section (07) we would like to share with you The Three Ways to Incur a Caloric Deficit and thereby create a negative energy balance.