There is an enormous amount of research and information available on how to lose weight, yet many of us continue to struggle to do it. Why is that? Part of this could simply be due to laziness (not you though!), but a lot of it comes from taking old, false and/or biased advice.
We are extremely vulnerable when it comes to how we look or what number appears when we stand on the scale. This creates the perfect opportunity for supplement companies, food companies, fitness companies and many others to take advantage of consumers through strategic marketing. Unfortunately, a lot of what’s out there is just crap and won’t help you achieve your goals. This article gives you 3 simple steps that will set you up to burn fat and lose weight for the long-term.
3 Simple Steps to Lose Weight
1. Eat Real Food
It’s frustrating that we’ve put ourselves in a position that I need to tell humans to eat real human food. The standard American diet consists of 70% processed foods, most of which contains added sugar, chemicals or unhealthy fats that all contribute to weight gain. For the most part, anytime you consume a packaged and processed food you’re going to overload the blood with sugar and initiate an insulin response.
Insulin Blocks Access To Your Stored Fat
Think of insulin as the “fertilizer” for your cells, when it’s released, the food you just digested and is now in your bloodstream will be removed and stored in your fat cells. When you have high insulin levels, your body is unable to access its stored fat to use for energy. Let me say that again. When you have a high insulin response, you are physiologically unable to burn stored fat. This is very important when trying to lose weight!
Real Foods Keep Insulin Levels Low
Real, whole foods like vegetables, meats, fruits (in small amounts), nuts and seeds, etc. do not contain added sugars, sweeteners or other non-natural ingredients that will spike insulin levels and contribute to weight gain. They also contain fiber and/or healthy fats that slow down digestion, keep you feeling full longer and result in less craving, snacking and eating.
It’s Difficult to Overeat on Real Food
It’ very difficult for a human to overeat on real, whole foods because they contain the nutrients the body requires and is looking for when it is “hungry”. Most processed foods on the other hand do not contain these needed nutrients and even worse, are designed to be addictive. This is why you can eat 2,000 calories worth of chips or french fries in a single sitting, yet you can’t eat 2,000 calories of boiled potatoes, even though it’s technically the same food (I challenge you to try). Remember, when you’re hungry your body wants nutrients not calories.
Whether you are looking to burn fat, maintain a healthy weight or just improve your health, eating real food is the single most important thing you can do to achieve success (see final thoughts at bottom of article for help on this).
2. Eat More Fat (The Natural Kind)
This may seem counterproductive to your goal of fat loss, however Dr. Mark Hyman, Chairman of the Institute of Functional Medicine, said it best “No assumption has been more catastrophic to our health than the recommendation that fat makes you fat and causes heart disease.. it caused millions to become obese, sick and diabetic”. I’m not going to talk about the health benefits of eating fat (listen to this podcast for more on that), but I am going to discuss how it promotes weight loss.
The wonderful thing about fat is that it’s a larger and more complex structure than a carbohydrate or protein. This means fat provides an abundance of energy but takes longer to breakdown. This is great because we get all the energy we need while keeping insulin levels low. With this in mind, we can also understand how this can help to keep us feeling full and limit overeating or snacking.
Most Carbs Spike Insulin
For numerous reasons, our diet has become largely dependent on carbohydrates rather than healthy fats. If you think of some of the more common foods we eat, it might be: bread, pasta, potatoes, rice.. pizza? While carbohydrates are not necessarily the enemy here, most of us need to significantly reduce the amount we consume. The main reason for this is that most carb-foods spike insulin levels, which increases the amount of fat we store rather than burn.
From a biochemical level, research shows that the more carbs you eat the better your body becomes at burning carbs and the worse it is at burning fat. On the other hand, when you increase your fat intake and lower the amount of carbs you consume, you become “fat-adapted”, which means you burn fat much more efficiently. You don’t need to completely remove carbs from your diet and go “Keto” to achieve this, however you will want to limit them to lower glycemic carbs as much as possible.
Becoming fat-adapted is one of the main reasons why the Ketogenic Diet can be so effective at allowing you to quickly burn fat. While I don’t recommend this for everyone, you can learn more about the Ketogenic diet in the video below or for a full deep dive; check out this podcast with Dr. Ken Berry.
**It’s really important to note that you should only be eating fat that was created naturally and has not been processed. Unnatural fats, which are typically found in vegetable oils, processed foods and deep fried foods are very harmful to your health and won’t help you lose weight. Click here for a list of foods that provide healthy fats.
3. Move Often!
When most people decide they want to lose weight, they usually try to find what the best type of workout is. Where you really need to focus your attention however is on the first 2 steps above. If you accomplish those correctly you will literally turn your body into a fat-burning machine, even without exercise.
For most people, the best exercise is the type of exercise you actually enjoy doing. It doesn’t matter what form of exercise burns the most fat if it’s not something you’re going to continue to do. If you’re more likely to rollerblade or play tennis over lifting weights or running hill sprints, then just do that! You need to allow your body to move.
How Movement Burns Fat
The chemical processes that occur within our body in order to maintain life (digest food, move, breathe, etc.) are what create our metabolism. The energy required (aka calories burned) to achieve this at rest is called our basal metabolic rate (BMR). Finally, the type of calories you metabolize (dietary sugar, dietary fat, stored fat, etc.) depends on what you ate and when. Steps 1 and 2 are what allow you to access your stored fat and burn it efficiently, once you have accomplished that, you simply need to increase your metabolic rate to burn fat faster (and no, eating small frequent meals is not a “good” way to boost your metabolism. That is a myth).
Move Throughout The Day
The common problem here is most of us sit for the majority of our day (in the office, driving to work, watching TV at night, etc.), which significantly limits our metabolic rate. Whenever you stand-up, move around or exercise, your body increases its metabolic rate because it requires more energy to allow the muscles and other systems to function properly. While exercise will definitely raise your metabolic rate, if you exercise for 45 minutes at the gym 3 times a week that only accounts for about 1% of your total week. Your goal should first be to stand, move and exert yourself as much as you can throughout the entire day. Try taking the stairs, walking to work, standing at your desk, walking to the grocery store and the list goes on.
Once you have managed these 3 simple steps, then you can look into optimizing fat burning through specific types of exercise. Looks like I need to write another blog on this topic, stay tuned!
Still Need Help?
While these 3 steps are easy in writing, for many it can be overwhelming or a difficult challenge. We’ve been eating fake foods and living a relatively sedentary lifestyle for so long that this can seem impossible to achieve. If you need guidance, help getting a plan started or want to optimize your workouts to burn fat fast, I may be accepting additional clients for Online Health Coaching. I help clients achieve weight loss, improve health and/or optimize cognitive function through diet, exercise, stress management and other natural techniques.
Check out my webpage and contact me for a free consultation.