Top 6 tips for losing fat fast
Words by Nathan Irvine | Dean Henry
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If you're tired of searching through the web and seeing fantastical and unachievable ways to lose fat fast, then you've come to the right place. EDGAR has enlisted the help of Dean Henry, a functional medicine certified health coach and co-founder of The Clean Living Company. He's worked with numerous clients and seen amazing results in terms of losing body fat, so he really is best place to give you some no-nonsense advice. Take it away, Dean.
After working with hundreds of clients to help and encourage them to become healthier, one by-product for most is weight loss or reduction of body fat.
There are quite a few myths associated with fat loss. However, there is no getting away from the fact that it can’t be achieved without being in a calorie deficit. The issue here is there are many ways to achieve calorie deficit, and it really comes down to the individual and their relationship with food and their lifestyle. No one protocol fits all, you need to discover what works for you.
Most of us have a sweet tooth, for example. This is mother nature’s way of encouraging us to eat more fruit, however the big food companies have manipulated our desire for sweetness and have developed foods that have far too much refined sugar than our bodies can cope with... but it keeps us spending money on their products. We have lost touch with the real foods we should be consuming, which is why obesity has become a global epidemic.
Here are my six best tried and tested ways that my clients have achieved successful, and more importantly long-term results.
The bottom line is most people do not move enough. I’m not talking about strenuous exercise here. In fact, many keen gym goers, crossfit enthusiasts, spin class attendees, and the like very often do not create enough non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). This relates to how many calories you burn when you are not exercising or sleeping. Sitting and driving to the gym, sitting and driving to work, sitting at work and sitting while on the phone is a real concern not only for weight loss, but for long term health. In functional medicine we say, ´sitting is the new smoking’. Sedentary lifestyles are affecting our health span. Get an activity or step tracker and use it. I’m all for ancestral wisdom, however there are some great tools in the modern era to help us achieve better health, so we should use them to our benefit. We must aim for more than 10,000 steps daily, ideally 15,000 plus. Some hacks I'd recommend: pre-breakfast fasted light cardio has shown to control blood sugar, which allows you to eat a large breakfast and put on less or no weight, this can include a light 10 minute stationary bike, a 20 minute quickly paced walk, or my favourite, a light 10 minute bounce on a mini trampoline. The latter not only increases heart rate, it has little to no impact on your joints but also helps support the lymphatic system. Go for postprandial walks, 20 minutes or so after your evening meal, which keeps concentration of fat lower in the blood 18 percent lower than sitting or standing after a meal. A standing desk, naturally when standing you move more and burn more calories and in fact sitting and standing every 30 minutes reduces post lunch blood sugar spikes by more than 11 percent. The trick is not to sit the entirety of your working day, this keeps you physically active all day long. Walk when on your phone, with all the time we spend on our phones this allows us to be mobile, make a habit of moving around while speaking or sending messages.
There are so many long-term benefits in following one of these protocols. It improves your relationship with food, it helps reset your palate so you can taste the food you consume, reduces inflammation which is a great way to destroy fat cells, helps you identify food sensitivities and due to the fact you only eat real food it’s almost impossible not to be in a calorie deficit. For 21 days you remove potentially inflammatory food groups from your diet, including grains, white potatoes, soy, vegetable and seed oils, refined sugar, alcohol, processed foods, dairy and for a super strict protocol also coffee, but this isn’t necessary if you love your morning coffee. After 3 weeks you do a low reintroduction program introducing one food group at a time and take note of how you feel; energy, sleep and any adverse reactions to your gut or skin. The average amount of weight my clients lose during these 3 weeks is around 5kg. The key here is it’s only 3 weeks but after this you generally understand what foods do and don’t work for you, which will help you fight the fat and lead a healthier life. Including bone broth into this protocol helps you increase your protein levels and helps satiate your hunger. This also includes semi-fasting days when you consume only bone broth until dinner one day per week, which is an amazing way to cleanse the body of any toxins.
Understanding your macronutrients for fat-loss is a very powerful tool and many use this as an ongoing protocol as this can allow the consumption of less healthy and sweet tasting foods. Although I advise against eating these kind of foods which usually are defined as empty calories, many people just can’t break away from these food groups long term and see these foods as ‘a treat’. As they are not really treating your body, I would prefer to use the term ‘cheat’. We are only human, so this can be a powerful way to have your cake and eat it, so to speak. Macronutrients are defined as carbohydrates, protein and fats – understanding the amount of each you can consume daily, or even weekly, will help you achieve your goals, be it weight loss or to build muscle. Download a Macronutrient calculator online, enter your biometrics, and this will calculate your daily macronutrient allowance. The key here is to keep it as clean as possible with real whole food, as the empty calories and sweet food can make you feel hungry more quickly, which will make this protocol more difficult. However many people enjoy this and find this less restrictive, which will help them achieve their weight-loss goals, so it’s your choice if you want to make this a healthy or unhealthy protocol, as weight loss doesn’t always equate to good health.
Keto is a diet which was used in the early 1920’s to help people with epilepsy, but soon gained mainstream popularity due to the notable side effects; weight loss and mental clarity. It is now used in the modern day as a very successful weight-loss strategy. The keto diet is based on a dietary consumption of very low carbohydrates (5-10%), high levels of fat (70-80%) and moderate amounts of protein (20-25%). This style of eating results in minimal insulin release and allows the body to burn fats. By shifting carbohydrates metabolism to fats, ketone bodies are produced and thus places the body into a state called ketosis. As a result, fats from your diet and stored energy in your body (body fat) are utilised for energy. Again, this can be a healthy protocol, which I like to call nutritional ketosis or an unhealthy protocol which is called dirty ketosis. The latter allows you to enter a state of ketosis but consuming processed meats and fats. However I would strongly advise against this and focus on whole foods, clean meats and fish, good fats, such as coconuts, avocados and cold pressed olive oil. I like to see this protocol run for around 3 months and what you find after this is that you become ‘fat adapted’ more quickly, so many choose to keto or carb cycle, which means you follow the keto diet for 5 or 6 days of the week and then eat a more carbohydrate diet for the remaining 1 or 2 days, which allows you to jump in and out of ketosis as long as you have the 3 months of a strict keto diet behind you.
Hormone imbalances are often overlooked by the calorie counters, due to the fact that, as stated previously, without being in a calorie deficit you can’t lose weight. This of course is true; however, a hormone imbalance can make weight-loss a lot more difficult as you will burn calories less efficiently. Although both men and women struggle with hormone imbalances, women seem to have more trouble with imbalances, which can cause resistance to fat loss. The main hormone to contend with here is estrogen – it’s higher in women and can create the formation of fat tissue. Progesterone does fight against such excessive fat growth; the problem is progesterone declines much faster with age then estrogen and at this point fat rapidly accumulates and becomes much harder to lose, especially as you approach the menopause years. The best course of action here is to run a hormone panel or a DUTCH test, this will identify any imbalances and you can then work with your health coach or professional on what lifestyle or dietary changes need to be made to mitigate the damage.
Cardio is a great way to lose weight, the problem with cardio for this purpose is that the better and fitter you become, the more you need to do to burn the same number of calories you did previously. This can start to become very timing consuming and cause you to over train, which can have a negative effect on your long term health and weight loss goals. The good news is with weight training you can simply increase the weight, do more reps or slow down the time under tension (slower lifting). This allows you to burn more calories quickly and just as importantly, help keep your bones strong, avoiding osteoporosis in later life. You can continue and adapt these workouts until pretty much any age. Remember lifting weight does not make you bulky, your diet does. I have many other strategies I like to you use, such a stress management, wearing a blood glucose monitor (CGM) to see how much sweet foods you can consume before it starts to affect your insulin levels negatively or even breathing exercises, as many people do not know that when you burn fat it mainly releases the body breath, so understanding how to encourage this is another great tool.
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