Fat Loss, Not Weight Loss in 10 Bullet PointsFat Loss, Not Weight Loss in 10 Bullet Points https://www.thrivehealth.com.au/wp-content/uploads/bigstock-Close-Up-Of-Overweight-Woman-M-68406439960.jpg 960 640 Janie Janie https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/73d7b9a4bcaf7c63f4a42c753b4c008d?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Calorie restriction (aka ‘dieting’) results in weight loss, NOT fat loss. If you ‘diet’ and lose a few kilograms, a lot of the weight lost is muscle mass and fluid. And even worse – when you stop dieting and put the weight back on (as happens with 90% of dieters), the weight gained back is nearly all fat. So dieting leads to muscle loss and subsequent fat gain – the exact opposite of what people are trying to achieve.
In the context of evolution it makes sense that fat loss is difficult. Our bodies are adapted to living through alternating times of famine and feast. When there is a feast our bodies are programmed to store fat for the upcoming famine. When there is a famine our bodies protect the fat in case the famine is a long one. The problem is these days we are surrounded by feasts and the only famines we experience are self-imposed diets. Our bodies can’t tell the difference between a famine and dieting so when you restrict calories the body thinks it is starving, shuts down important metabolic processes, hoards fat and gives up muscle protein instead.
Exercising more will not necessarily lead to fat loss. Aerobic exercise like jogging or cycling for long distances at a slow to moderate pace does not switch on muscle building and instead leads to muscle wastage – think of a marathon runner’s body. It is good for your aerobic system, but not for fat loss. If you want to lose fat you need to strength train to maintain or build muscle mass (full body multi-joint moves like squats, deadlifts or push presses) and/or do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) which boosts your metabolic rate and switches on the hormones that utilise stored fat – think of a sprinter’s body.
Your body weight is not a true indication of fat loss, only weight loss. Waist measurement is a more accurate indicator of fat loss progress because it measures visceral fat loss. This is the fat that accumulates around your organs and is linked to chronic disease – and you don’t need to be overweight to be carrying visceral fat. There are many stories of people who lose many centimetres off their waist but the scales don’t budge. There are many reasons for this – if you are building muscle then this may offset fat loss on the scales, or maybe you are just losing visceral fat which is vital if you want to live a long healthy life.
For fat loss, you need to teach your body to use fat as an energy source. If you constantly keep feeding your body carbohydrates it will use carbohydrates as its preferred energy source and you will be hungry all the time because we don’t store a lot of carbohydrates in our body. You have to top up on energy by eating. On the other hand, if you want it to use fat as an energy source, start feeding your body more fat instead of carbs – you won’t get that hungry because we store a lot more energy as fat in our bodies.
Think of the metabolism as a fire: Sugar is like throwing paper on a fire – it only lasts a very, very short time, it comes with a weak burst of heat and then quickly fizzles out. Complex carbohydrates (starches and grains) are like kindling – they will last a bit longer but certainly won’t keep you warm for hours. Fat is like the log – it will burn all night putting out enough heat to fill a house – you won’t get a warm house with kindling and paper. You have to stop throwing paper and kindling on the fire if you want the log to burn.
Carbohydrates will undermine your fat loss efforts. That’s because they raise insulin which is the major hormone that tells your body to store fat instead of use it. Sugar and refined carbohydrates are the worst perpetrators, but wheat comes a close second due to its high GI “supercarbohydrate” – wholemeal bread raises insulin faster than table sugar! When you have a lot of insulin in your body your cells eventually become insulin resistant which means you have to produce even more insulin for it to do its job making your cells even more insulin resistant – it’s a viscous cycle of fat storage.
When you are insulin resistant (and most overweight people are to some degree), insulin tells your body to store food as fat and it tells your body not to use stored fat.
Control insulin by reducing carbohydrates and reducing snacking. Three square meals a day filled with meat, vegetables and some extra satiating fat will do wonders for your insulin levels and fat loss progress.
Stress is another insulin raiser so reduce or manage your stress to the best of your ability.
There are many other long term negative hormone changes that occur as a result of weight loss through dieting. Leptin is an important appetite regulator and under conditions of calorie restriction our bodies become desensitised to it meaning our appetites don’t get switched off properly. This just leaves us hungry and obsessed about food all the time.
A good guide – if you are hungry this will hinder fat loss. It will only lead to short-term weight loss, a slowed metabolism and long-term fat gain. Instead stay satisfied with insulin-reducing fats, proteins and vegetables and keep your metabolism purring along. Fat and protein combined are extremely satiating while eating carbs will make you hungry again in 2 hours (or less).
The impact of toxins on our hormones is severely underestimated. Obesogens (plastics such as BPA, parabens and phthalates) disrupt human hormones which leads to fat gain. Also when we are swamped with all the toxins from our food, air, water and personal care products our body is unable to detoxify them all, so it has to store them somewhere to get them out of the blood – so it puts them safely out of the way in fat cells. Sometimes the body will not give up those fat cells quickly because releasing the toxins in large amounts into the blood is very, very bad.
It is extremely important to limit obesogens when attempting to lose fat so that the body can work on detoxifying the toxins released from fat cells, rather than any new ones.
Poor gut health is another underestimated inhibitor of fat loss. If your digestive system is not functioning properly you are not absorbing nutrients properly and this can seem like starvation to the body – so it goes into fat protection mode just like dieting. If you experience bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, cramps or have IBS then it is a worthwhile exercise to find the root cause of your problem and get it out of your life. For some people this is a food sensitivity such as grains, dairy or nightshades. For others it is a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. For many it is both. If the symptoms are not that bad, clean up your diet and take a good quality probiotic. If that doesn’t help or the symptoms are serious, get yourself to a functional practitioner or naturopath to get your gut sorted.
There are a few superfoods for fat loss. Whey protein is a potent supporter of fat loss. 100% natural whey protein from free-range cows (not the stuff in muscle building supplements!) has been shown to improve insulin resistance, increase satiety and assist with fat loss – although this is only good if you can tolerate dairy. Extra virgin coconut oil has been shown to boost metabolism which helps fat burning and it protects the gut and reduces inflammation. Glutamine can help with obsessive thoughts about food and heals the gut. Throw them all in a smoothie for a fat loss boost.
The main thing to remember is that whatever you do to achieve fat loss you have to do for the rest of the life to maintain it. So choose something that is enjoyable, satisfying and nourishing! For most people this is high fat, moderate protein, low carb real, whole foods combined with some varied strength training and HIIT.
Fat loss is a lifestyle, not a diet. There is no miracle cure or product – it is just about getting your body healthy so that it is able to lose weight.