How To; The Truth About Fat Loss
vHow can I lose fat? This is a question I find everywhere on the Internet, and one that makes billions of dollars for the “health and fitness industry”. Nutrisystem, P90x, ketogenic diet, Paleo diet, etc. … It seems like all these systems provide only temporary results, and the moment you decide to stop doing the routine, your body rebounds.
Lean is a lifestyle, not a workout
Before we get into the science of losing fat, mindset is a priority. The truth is, it’ll take hard work and self-discipline to achieve your fitness goals, whatever they are. Most people seek the easy way out. Consistent and hard effort over time is the only guaranteed method for success.
How to Lose Fat: The one requirement
To make this simple, think about the caloric deficit. This is a scientifically proven “secret” that helps you lose weight, shed fat, and look leaner. What exactly is a caloric deficit? A caloric deficit occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. The most basic scientific facts regarding fat are that 1 pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. In order to lose 1 pound a week, you need to create a calorie deficit of about 500 calories a day. The only flaw here is that this doesn’t account for changes in body composition and the consequent reduction in calories burned. Your body responds to a caloric deficit by making you burn fewer calories; this is often called “starvation mode” or Adaptive Thermogenesis (1).
Your body has an internal mechanism that is called the body weight set point. This means that all of your bodily systems are attuned with each other to function within a specific weight range and specific level of energy consumption (2). You are a living being, and biological organisms like to be “stable” and not be responding to constant dramatic change. This is your body’s way of achieving homeostasis.
The fat-loss side effect
A little later, we will explore other factors in fat loss – but first, let’s talk more about the caloric deficit. Does it really make you lose fat? Yes, but weight loss is not just fat loss. Losing weight refers to any combination of lost fat, body water, and muscle (3). You do NOT want to lose muscle.
The great news is that there are ways to minimize the loss of muscle mass:
- Lift weights: Resistance training can be astonishingly helpful in avoiding a loss of muscle mass when you are losing weight (4).
- Eat protein: With a higher protein intake, your body is much less likely to break down your muscles to use them for energy (5).
The Best Approach: A slow and steady approach to body fat loss.
The approach for the body: Fat loss is a situation in which you improve your physiological health, hormonally, and metabolic; in so doing, your physique improves.
The approach for the mind: Fat loss is a mindset change that requires you to change your relationship with food, firm new beliefs about how you treat yourself, and create healthy eating habits.
It takes time.
Why so long?
Remember that internal setpoint we talked about? Your body’s biological system likes to be stable, so creating drastic changes will force your body to adapt. This is why so many people struggle with weight loss and gain their weight right back after a quick “diet”. That’s why the slow and steady approach helps keep the weight off after you lose weight. This approach gives your body time to catch up and adapt to its new (lower) caloric demands (6).
How to Approach Fat loss
Other than taking it slow, diet is key.
Your diet should be mostly whole foods. You need to eat foods that were grown or raised, not manufactured, and made (unprocessed). The reason for this is that we are not eating for calories, but rather eating to optimize hormones and nutritional benefits.
You need to eat clean like it’s your job to be healthy
Create a better relationship with food by eating more slowly. Eating clean (whole foods) creates a healthy mind-gut connection. This will improve hormonal health, which is crucial; it controls metabolism. If you’re overweight, you likely have high estrogen, skewed leptin levels, lower testosterone levels, and are insulin-resistant (7). To put things simply, your hormones are contributing to you being overweight, and you need to counter this through dietary changes. Your insulin, leptin, testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol all influence how your body stores nutrients, burns/stores fat, and functions on a daily basis.
You have to outsmart your body
Your body hates change and just wants to maintain homeostasis. That’s why, to lose weight, you need to do long periods of slight undereating, periods of maintenance eating, and periods of slight caloric surplus. I personally am not a fan of calorie counting, so instead, I keep a scale handy to track my gradual progress.
This is self-explanatory. Get up and move around! Be active, go on walks, do some cardio, and lift some weights.
There is no set prescription for fat loss. Every person is unique. Losing body fat is a process that requires self-discovery, self-discipline, and experimentation to drop the weight.
How about genetics?
I don’t want to sugarcoat this so, here it is: you are fat because you eat too much. The issue with weight gain is that you eat more food than your body needs. There are genes connected to being overweight, but blaming your DNA for your weight-loss challenges wouldn’t be right.
DIET IS KING
A high-protein, moderate- to high-fat, low-carb, zero to very low sugar diet is probably going to be the best strategy for you. And don’t forget whole foods, which supply you with plenty of micronutrients.
A good diet lifestyle should begin with foods like:
- Whole grains
- Establish a caloric baseline for your body
- Establish a caloric deficit. 500 calories is a good start.
- When fat loss stops, take two days to eat more calories, splurge with a cheat meal (this will act like a refeed to satisfy your hormones).
- Start dieting again, but do not diet for long periods of time.
- Optional but necessary: strength/resistance training.
Remember, do not try to lose weight as quickly as possible (slow and steady, please). Your body does not like abrupt change.
Create a healthy relationship with food. Don’t eat and multitask. Eat slowly, get in touch with yourself, learn the difference between being full and stuffed. Pay attention to how food affects your energy levels afterward. Do not eat foods that make you feel sluggish and bloated.
Crucial: Lower your sugar intake. Over-consuming sugar is the most common cause of weight gain. Sugar is toxic, it creates metabolic problems, leads to overeating, Type 2 diabetes, and hormone imbalances. Try cutting out all added sugar in food and see how it can lead to drastic fat loss.
Fat-loss is a challenge to your patience, so take it slow and steady. Eat clean, like it’s your job to be healthy. Over time, you will see changes – and will form a new, more loving relationship with your body.
Why You Should Slow Your Eating
How does the speed of eating affect health?
One dilemma we face in our daily lives is not having enough time. We seem to have the same problem when we eat. When we finally have time to eat, we often devour our food as fast as we can.
Busy people are experts in doing things quickly - but when it comes to eating, being swift is not a good trait to have.
Quick eating can result in overeating. While you eat, your brain doesn’t focus on the eating process, but rather on the objective of filling your stomach. Once your stomach becomes full, it does not automatically trigger satiety in the brain. The sensation of being full happens when neurological signals from your stomach reach your brain. You need to give your stomach and brain some time to communicate.
It actually takes about 20 minutes for you to feel full.
If you rush meals, your digestion suffers. You might feel like each meal is over too soon, which makes you eat more or gobble up dessert. Or you finish the meal before your satiety signals kick in, making you feel stuffed.
Eating slowly is not only about health - it’s about a lifestyle.
Here are some reasons why you should consider eating more slowly:
Researchers at Japan’s Kyushu University, drawing on data on 60,000 Japanese health insurance claimants, discovered that slow eaters were 42% less likely to be overweight. Normal-speed eaters had a 29% lower risk of being overweight. Imagine all the extra calories you may have ingested simply because you didn’t allow your brain to register that your tummy is full.
At the University of Rhode Island, researchers compared the difference between quick and slow eating, and this is what they discovered:
- When eating quickly, women consume 646 calories in 9 minutes.
- When eating slowly, women consume 579 calories in 29 minutes.
That is 67 fewer calories in 20 minutes’ time. It doesn’t seem like a lot — but if you eat 3 meals a day, it adds up quickly.
Digestion is a chain reaction that starts when we see or smell food. We start salivating to prepare for food being in our mouth. Saliva contains enzymes that help break food down and make it easier to swallow. As your mouth is prepared for food, your stomach starts to secrete acid. If you rush this process and just devour food, you’ll upset your GI tract. We all love surprises – but our digestive system doesn’t.
At the University of Rhode Island, researchers examined different eating speeds and the effects of early digestion:
- Slow eaters consumed 2 ounces of food per minute.
- Medium-speed eaters consumed 2.5 ounces of food per minute.
- Fast eaters consumed 3.1 ounces per minute. They also took larger bites and chewed less before swallowing.
Food that isn’t broken down properly will make it harder on your stomach, and may lead to indigestion – and who knows what other potential GI problems? Fast eaters are sending big lumps of food to the stomach, making it work harder to create the liquid mix chyme.
Hydration is vital for the body to maintain the right balance of fluids, transport nutrients to the muscles, help kidneys eliminate waste, and maintain skin. The benefit of slow eating is that you are more likely to increase your water consumption during meals.
The same University of Rhode Island study showed that women who ate slowly drank 409 ml (about 14 oz) of water during their meal. When food was eaten quickly, only 289 ml (9.7 oz) of water was consumed. Researchers determined that eating slowly seems to decrease hunger and leads to higher levels of satiety between meals.
The message is clear: slow down your eating and enjoy improved health and well-being.
Slow eating will help you create a better relationship with food, but will also make eating food more enjoyable. It’s hard to enjoy your food if it disappears too quickly. Eating slowly can be a great way to practice mindfulness. Be in the moment, rather than rush through a meal while thinking about the next task at hand.
Tips for slow eating
- Sit down to eat in a calm environment with little distraction. Don’t do it while texting or watching TV. Pay attention to your food!
- Put down your utensils between bites. Take a moment. Breathe.
- Choose high-fiber foods. Foods that contain high fiber – like fresh vegetables – require more time to chew.
- Practice! Eating quickly is a habit that needs to be broken.
- Take smaller bites and chew your food. Notice the texture of what you are eating and appreciate what it adds to your meal. This is something I need to remind myself of daily.
- Have a conversation. You only have one mouth. If you use it to talk, it will be harder for you to shove food down your gullet.
Most of us live fast-paced lives, but eating quickly does not favor our health and well-being. Eat slowly, consume less food, drink more water, and feel more satisfied. It’s a win-win!
Why Is Not All Stress Bad
How do you view stress?
If you were to ask the first person you see about their view on the stress they will most likely say It’s bad. We associate stress with increased heart disease, poor mental health, and in a chronic state, it can do great damage to your quality of life. Now imagine where you would be in life without it. As bad of a reputation as we have built up for stress, it is the drive that leads to our accomplishments. Stress, when it’s temporary and well managed, gives us the opportunity to vision, innovate, and create.
When you start to think about the physiology of stress you feel an increase in heart rate, an increase in breathing, and a decrease in appetite. For a brief time, it is beneficial because it increases blood and oxygen to your brain along with vital organs. This stress process is what puts the image in imagination. That’s where the light bulb turns on and ideas come to existence.
The stress response is also called the fight or flight response. The exact mechanism is the stimulation of our sympathetic nervous system. This course of action leads to the physiological changes our bodies exhibit during a stressful period. It is our body’s natural response to step outside of our comfort zone and our adaptation in times of unpredictability. The SNS, sympathetic nervous system, nervous system, and nerves
Adrenaline and noradrenaline are the main hormones released during times of stress. These hormones are the cause of the changes listed below. Another hormone released during stress is oxytocin, also referred to as the “love hormone”. It has been associated with the ability of an individual to open up and bond with others during stressful periods. Everyone has been behind in a group project, but eventually, the group syncs together and their business is accomplished.
The reason your eyes dilate during the night is to allow more light to enter. During stress, ocular dilation occurs allowing the brain to capture more of the environment. When visual capacity increases you’re better able to process what is going on. The efficiency of discerning a situation is increased.
Relaxes Bronchi, Accelerates Heart rate
To better explain this I’ll shed some basic human anatomy on this, bronchi are passages for air to enter the lungs. By relaxing they are able to hold more air, leading to an increase in oxygen. Temporary acceleration in our heart rate is beneficial, the keyword being “temporary”. If your resting heart rate is consistently above 100 that is not a sign of good health, but that is a whole different subject altogether. That interim increase in heart rate allows more oxygen to enter the brain. This jolt of oxygen supplied by the lungs and heart contributes to a more proficient thought process and increases mental capability.
Increase glucose production and release
Glucose is fuel for our bodies. Long-term effects of increased glucose are harmful and should not be sustained, it can lead to diabetes. However, a brief spike in glucose permits cells to absorb more energy and work harder. When cells work harder you work harder. Maybe this temporary rush is what you need to get through that term paper or corporate presentation. It is unfortunately followed by a crash in which you may feel tired. but hey, at least the hard part’s over.
Before you affiliate all negativity with stress, think about it. In no notion am I promoting stress or wishing lots of stress on any human being. I want you to consider that this is a physical sign and feeling of change that your body is promoting. Maybe you just need to get things done or put yourself in a better situation. Don’t associate this stressful period with a barrier, think of it as your body helping you. Your body is facilitating change. It increases brain activity by providing it with an increased supply of oxygen and fuel. Use this temporary benefit and accomplish a goal or the task at hand. Consider it a natural pre-workout and let your aspirations become an actuality. After all, a response is what you make of it.
Benefits of Drinking a Gallon of Water a Day
Drinking a gallon of water a day seems like a chore.
Normally people don’t drink close to a gallon of water a day and many aren’t aware of the benefits it possesses. To start off, our body is made up of about 60% water. With such a large water to body ratio, why aren’t we drinking enough water?
Water is so beneficial, so easy, so free, yet so easily overlooked. If you have frequent headaches, constipated, or always hungry, water might be the answer for you. I used to suffer from frequent headaches and my only relief was 200mg of ibuprofen. If people think headaches are “normal” and just pop a pill to relieve the symptoms, then you are wrong. It can be a multitude of other factors but it’s important to treat the most common underlying cause of dehydration!
So do you literally have to drink a gallon a day?
The answer is no. Medline recommends 8 (8oz) glasses a day, and others suggest taking your weight into consideration. To be honest, you can’t overdo drinking water because anything excess will simply be excreted by the kidneys a.k.a peeing a lot! For example, a person that weighs 160 pounds should drink 5 water bottles, which is a little less than 3/4 of a gallon.
Proper hydration is key for optimal health, not consuming enough can lead to serious complications, including but not limited to dehydration. All of our organs and cells need water to function.
Benefits of water include:
Increase in energy & relieves fatigue
- Our brain is mostly made up of water. Drinking plenty of water helps you think, focus, and be more alert. After about 2 weeks of being on top of my water intake, I realized when waking up I was less dependent on coffee for that mental boost of energy.
Promotes weight loss
- Drink a glass of water before your meal and see how much less you consume. Water helps keep you full and reduces hunger by acting as an appetite suppressant in a zero-calorie package.
Flushes out toxins
- Water helps the body get rid of toxins through sweat and urination, which also reduces your risk of kidney stones and UTI’s (Urinary Tract Infection). Speaking of flush… You’ll be heading to the bathroom more often.
Improves skin complexion
- Hydration prevents dryness, wrinkles, reduces blemishes, and it’s the best anti-aging product around! I noticed with regular consumption of water I relied less on lotion to keep my skin moisturized
Boosts immune system
- Your immune system functions best when your muscles and organs are functioning at optimum. A clear system is a clean system.
Prevents cramps & Sprains
- Proper hydration keeps your joints lubricated and muscles elastic. The cause of muscle cramps is not exactly known. It is thought to be caused by many things such as overuse, staying in one position for too long, electrolyte dysfunction, and of course, the main one is dehydrated.
With the perks water has, why not give a daily gallon of water a try? You can always start with less and build your way to the recommended water intake. Be ready to feel more focused, energized, and less hungry. Ultimately small changes in your life will help you become a better version of yourself.