Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat makes the argument that it's not fat that makes us fat, but the carbs we eat. He states that if everyone ate a high protein and high fat diet and extremely low carb diet, we would lose weight and not have to track ANY calories. I agree, but only to some degree...
Here is where he is wrong: Taubes advocates eating a high fat and high protein diet because he assumes that these calorically dense and satiating foods will fill you up faster than carbs and leave you eating less, whereas carbs just sustain the cravings. But, what about someone who is extremely physically active like myself and doesn't get satiated from just fat? And what about those "healthy" natural carbs like starchy tubers (sweet potato) and fruit? I think that these should be implemented in a diet. For someone like myself I just can't sustain on LOTS of fat. I need the carbs. I have to eat way more fat to be full, then the amount of calories of carbs. I could easily eat 500 calories of coconut oil, but sweet potatoes? Not so easy!
I think once you have gotten to a normal weight range you don't need to eat only high protein and fat. I think to optimize the right macronutrients you SHOULD watch your caloric intake and not necessarily track the percentages of fat, carbs, and protein eaten, but just make sure you aren't weighing too heavy over one. From Taubes' recommendations I have made my own adjustments and do as follow: at every meal I eat a good size amount of organic meat (a handful), about a cup or two of vegetables sauteed in coconut oil and a spinach salad with tomato, spinach, salt, oregano, and pepper, and 1 tbsp of olive oil. I measure my fat because I think eating 1200 calories of heavy cream will eventually make you put on weight. I don't make an effort to bombard the meal with extra fat. I put the daily requirement in to my preparations and feel perfectly satisfied. On a day when I do more physical activity, I'll add in a sweet potato to a meal and en extra piece of meat. (Keep in mind my food intake may seem low because I am tiny!). No matter what you eat, if you are eating 5,000 calories of it a day, I guarantee you will put on weight, it is what our bodies do. We eat for energy, but what is not utilized is stored NO MATTER what food that is!
I track calories, but only to make sure I am not going overboard with fat and am getting enough grams of carbs to keep me energized. I don't pay attention to protein, but keep it at about 1 gram per 1 lb of body weight. On a high fat diet, my body was starving for something more (healthy carbs) and my body temperature was low. The fat around my midsection increased (I think in an attempt to preserve composition) and working out wasn't any easier (our bodies need those carbs for better workouts!). (*In terms of dairy I don't have an opinion on whether to avoid it or not, but I personally do not eat it. Take it out for two weeks and see how your body reacts. If you feel like you NEED it, add it back in. If it makes you feel better, then keep it. Everyone is different and some of us require that dairy, but in agreement with Taubes, don't cut yourself short- go for the full fat yogurt, just not a bucket in one sitting! Our brains definitely need fat to operate so don't forget to include it in your diet-- do NOT be fat-phobic please.)
The verdict: If you are overweight, try Taubes' approach and get rid of all those processed carbs, focusing on "good" fats and protein. It may actually work for you long term too, just not for myself because of my activity level, but every one is different! Once you get to an average weight range, you may want to try adding in healthy carbs that your body needs and keep your calories in check. Don't let your macros get too off balanced (even out carbs/protein/fat, I do 30%/40/30%). Basically when you fill your plate make sure there are meat and veggies and fat that has been added in moderately (not overdosed). I have been seeing the best results with this approach and I don't feel as if I am calorically restricted because I am eating ALL the nutrients I need!
What is your approach? What do you agree and disagree about with Taubes?