Dieting has negative connotations, and for good reason. Anything that tends to involve a diet sucks – plain and simple. The name alone suggests deprivation, bouts of starvation and resisting temptation. Any diet that restricts things for too long is bound to fail, so what I propose is changes to your lifestyle that can have dieting effects without all the negatives.
Here are a five easy fat loss strategies you can implement today to start dropping fat:
Upon waking, your body is a fat burning machine. It is hormonally primed to consume fat for fuel for the next few hours of the day. In order to facilitate this fat burning, we have to hold out on the carbohydrates at breakfast. So we opt instead to elevate fats and reduce carbohydrates for the first meal of the day. This means something like a three-egg omelette with spinach (no toast) over a heavy carb-laden breakfast of pancakes and waffles (you can eat those later in the day – see below).
I’m in favour of back-loading carbohydrates in the evening, with meals in the early part of the day mostly comprised of protein, fats and veggies. I stumbled upon this by accident more than three years ago, just because it made me feel more alert at work – not because of what it may or may not do aesthetically or health wise.
But upon further research, I came across DH Kiefer’s diet, Carb Back-Loading and have been followed it for years since with good success. Get the diet plan that fits perfectly with this method – Carb Back-Loading <- Click here
Insulin is an incredibly important hormone, especially in your pursuit of muscle and strength gains. Insulin is a potent inducer of amino acid uptake and protein synthesis, which makes it key to a muscular, fit physique, but it’s very much a double-edged sword. Insulin is effective at driving carbs into muscle and liver tissue (good), but it’s also equally as good at directing carbs into fat tissue (bad).
Every time you eat carbs, your insulin receptors spring into action, which is what you want, but if you’re repeatedly bombarding your pancreas with carbohydrates the insulin response can wear out over time. I won’t go further into the mechanics here, but this is a slippery slope towards diabetes if paired with inactivity and poor dietary choices.
How can you optimize your insulin sensitivity? Fixing your diet is the most important element. Remove high-glycemic carbohydrates – simple sugars – as much as possible, making sure at least 20% of your caloric consumption comes from dietary fats to balance out blood sugar levels, and opting for meals without carbs at certain times of the day can all contribute to improving insulin sensitivity. See DH Kiefer’s Carb Back-Loading for a template to follow.
Lift Things Up and Put Them Down
Heavy (for you) resistance training sensitizes muscle tissues to carbohydrates. After a heavy weight training session, your muscle cells are scrambling to soak up all the carbohydrates in muscle cells as quickly as possible to promote recovery, especially if your stored carbohydrate levels are depleted going into the workout (hence the importance of meals without carbs).
After a hard training session, your muscles are primed to store those dietary carbs the right way, but the opposite happens when you’ve been inactive for several days and then decide to spend NFL Sunday on the couch gorging on beer, pizza and wings. Your fat cells are going to be the beneficiaries as no ‘distress’ signal is being sent by the muscle cells requiring repair.
Heat Things Up
Heat therapy, which involves increased heat shock protein expression, increases insulin sensitivity by suppressing inflammation. You’ll notice a theme here – insulin sensitivity is a common thread to fat loss. Soaking in a hot bath or sauna causes a slight increase in core body temperature that turns on the cellular ‘heat shock’ response. This increases insulin sensitivity by suppressing inflammation and increasing blood flow to working muscles. You can get similar effects from cold showers or cryotherapy, but if you had to choose I think most would make the choice to relax in a sauna over an ice bath, am I right or am I right?? Hitting the sauna a few times a week when you’re off from the gym may be just what is needed to maintain heat shock protein levels, which aren’t activated during sedentary activities. Theoretically, this should help to maintain insulin sensitivity at or near training levels. For this reason, heat therapy may be especially useful when taking time off from training or if you don’t often train period.
Use Glucose Disposal Agents
Another tool in your insulin sensitivity tool belt are glucose disposal agents (GDAs). They help to ensure that carbs are stored as glycogen in hard-working muscles instead of fat. But before you start hitting the drive-thru after popping your GDA of choice, I stress they WON’T make up for a poor diet. The wrong circumstances to take GDAs are any time calorie intake is excessively high and energy expenditure is excessively low, like a Sunday entirely spent watching NFL for example. As Bill Willis explains, the combination of a ton of calories relative to less energy consumption triggers a compensatory decrease in insulin sensitivity, and GDAs won’t do any good in that environment.
Here’s my go-to GDAs:
Cinnamon not only helps insulin do its job better, but it has insulin mimetic properties (which means in the absence of insulin it can drive nutrients into muscles). It has health benefits beyond being a good GDA, but I won’t get into those here (let google guide you). This is the one I most often recommend because it’s EASY to implement into your diet right away! Every one has cinnamon in their cabinet, and it tastes good on a lot of things (hint: post-workout is a good time to use liberally when you’re most primed for carbs). It has a long shelf life as well.
Alpha Lipoic Acid:
ALA is naturally found in small amounts in muscle meats, heart, kidney, liver, etc., but needs to be supplemented to contribute as a GDA. The plain ALA version should be dosed at a range of 600-900mg per day (mostly following exercise just before a carb-heavy meal), while general recommendations for R-ALA are half that. Considering those dosing protocols, do the math and determine which provides more bang for its buck. It can be taken a few times a day before a meal with carbs or all at once after a workout with your post-workout meal.
Chromium is an essential trace nutrient needed for carbohydrate metabolism. Chromium is another one of the agents that can directly affect insulin sensitivity. If you’re a Diet Coke/Pepsi lover, this has residual benefits as diet soda reduces blood levels of chromium (which might explain some of the weight gain studies associated with diet pop consumption).