Think about the last piece of fat loss advice you received. Let me guess? It went something like this:
- “Move more.”
- “Eat less.”
- “Try this pill.”
- “Read this diet book.”
And sure: fat loss and the attainment of a sexy, lean body begins with getting off your butt, moving more, working out, and slowly lowering the doughnut from your gaping maw.
But when it comes to losing fat fast, staying shredded, rippedm and toned year round, and getting to the body weight you want—without two-a-day workouts and being hungry all the time—there are potent strategies that fly under the radar: strategies that go beyond fat loss.
For example, let’s take the flawed concept that, no matter what, you’ll always be stuck with the number of fat cells you’ve built earlier in your life. This commonly accepted dogma in the fitness and diet industry dictates that if you’ve ever had excess weight or bits of undesirable adipose tissue on your waist, hips, and butt, then the fat cells in those areas will never actually disappear, but will instead simply shrink. Those fat cells will then hide, waiting in the wings for the next time you mess up and eat a few too many bites of steak or an extra scoop of ice cream—at which point those food calories are doomed to wind up getting shoved directly into the eagerly waiting fat cells—resulting in a constant uphill battle against the bulge.
But this simply isn’t true. I realized this when I interviewed Dr. Cate Shanahan on my podcast. Dr. Shanahan explained that if you banish just one particularly notorious biological variable that is present in most people eating a standard Western diet, then you can actually induce fat cells to not only die, but to get transformed into other physiologically useful tissues, such as muscle cells, stem cells and neural cells. So what is this variable?
It’s not excess calories. It’s not chocolate. It’s not, to the chagrin of diet book authors worldwide, gluten. It’s not a low-carb, high-fat or a high-carb, low-fat diet.
My fellow Quick And Dirty Tips podcast “The Nutrition Diva” has in the past delved into some of the most potent dietary strategies to decrease inflammation, so be sure to check out her many episodes on the topic. Other practical methods and useful resources for lowering inflammation, lowering insulin, and killing fat cells or converting fat cells, include:
-Avoidance of any oils exposed to high amounts of heat, pressure or other forms of oxidation, including rancid forms of canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil and most packaged foods that produce a crunchy sensation, including so-called “healthy” trail mixes coated in oil and “healthy” nut butters and off-the-shelf snacks (hint: doughnuts, potato chips and french fries are the three most notorious food-based culprits that maintain the body in a constant state of inflammation)
-Paying attention to the results from a 2010 research study at the University of Sao Paolo, which reported on something called the “Inflammation Factor Rating”, which accurately predicts food inflammatory responses in human subjects. Charts that list both the inflammatory and the anti-inflammatory potential of just about any food can be found at “InflammationFactor.com”. For example, suggestions from that website include limiting coffee, alcohol, high fructose corn syrup and wheat, and instead eat choosing foods such as kale, raw seeds and nuts, coconut and avocado.
-The fact that during your deep sleep stages, particularly between 2 am and 6 am, your body’s core temperature drops, nervous system repair and recovery takes place, and cellular inflammation is “cleaned up”, so if you struggle through the day with appetite cravings and resistance to weight loss, inflammation related to poor sleep is usually to blame.
-Identify and decrease exposure to over-processed and refined foods, chemical additives, antibiotics and pharmaceuticals, pesticides, herbicides, chlorinated water, artificial sweeteners or anything else that might be considered “unnatural” enough to churn up high amounts of inflammation. For more on how to do that, ready my article on “How To Detox Your Home”.
So what are some other potent ways to kill fat cells?
-Former NASA materials engineer Ray Cronise taught me about how burn fat without exercise. Considering that you can run a whole marathon and only burn 1/2-3/4 pound of fat, this is important information to include. Ray’s trick is to implement a daily “hot-cold contrast shower,” which is better for enhancing fat loss compared to the the currently popular “cold thermogenesis” practice of cold showers and cold weather exposure. For this tactic , you simply take a shower and alternate between 10 seconds of warm water to 20 seconds of cold water 10 times through. That’s just 5 minutes, but it’s free fat burning!
-Paying attention fascinating results of a University of Connecticut study (in which I was personally a study participant) that conclusively proved a high-fat, low carbohydrate diet could increase fat oxidation from an average maximum of 1.0 grams per minute to over 1.7 grams per minute.
-Reading up on why the “fat burning zone” is a myth, and the results of a recent study that revealed that runners exercising at over 85% of their maximum intensity still experienced fat oxidation contribution as nearly a third of their total energy expenditure, which I covered in the episode “How To Train Your Body To Burn More Fat”.
-Implementing quick and easy fat loss strategies throughout the day, including one short, aerobic workout as many mornings as possible a week, preferably in an overnight fasted state, avoidance of the commonly recommended practice to frequently snack or “graze”, saving all carb intake for the end of the day and up until that point, eating high amounts of healthy fats with moderate amounts of proteins, staying mildly physically active all day long (e.g. standing workstation, jumping jack breaks, etc.), keeping the metabolism elevated by exposing your body to frequent fluctuations in cold and hot temperatures, including a a three-fold combination of endurance training, high intensity interval training, and weight training in an exercise protocol, and exercising (if possible) every day for 20-60 minutes.
As you can see, many of these strategies outlined in this episode are lifestyle based. For example, you can start off each day, before eating, with 10-30 minutes of very light activity (yoga, walking the dog, doing yard chores, etc.), take at least one cold shower each day, visit the sauna at least once per week, avoid non-nutrient dense carbohydrates, and be as active as possible all day long. Then, you can put the “icing on the cake” by alternating between one day of high intensity cardio and one day of weight training.
Finally, the nitty-gritty details for one of the most effective fat loss techniques that I personally used when racing Ironman triathlon to stay extremely lean, and that I now implement with clients worldwide to great success is the three-fold combination of a 1) consuming ~100-150mg of caffeine from green tea or coffee; 2) a 20-30 minute morning, aerobic, fasted, conversational workout with the caffeine in the system (the caffeine mobilizes fatty acids from adipose tissue); 3) the completion of this workout with the hot-cold contrast shower described earlier.
If you’re implementing all these strategies, and nothing still seems to be working, you may want to look into blood, urine, stool and saliva testing works best to elucidate why your body may be resistant to fat loss, and what to look into from a biological self-quantification standpoint when nothing else seems to be working. My two top such tests that I recommend are a DUTCH test for hormones and a comprehensive blood and biomarker test for things like micronutrient deficiencies and thyroid issues and beyond.
Want more? Check out twelve of my most effective unconventional ways to burn fat, which teaches you how to “biohack” your entire life to maximize fat loss, rather than relying on the inconvenience of a gym and strict diet to do achieve a lean body forever.
Throughout this episode, I’ve let you in on a little secret that I’ve hammered home over and over again: exercising and beating up the body with a ton of physical activity is not an ideal way to put yourself into maximum fat burning mode or to shrink your waistline. Instead, light levels of physical activity or mild “discomfort” throughout the day is the true way to maximize activity of fat burning enzymes. This includes using strategies such as a standing workstation, taking cold showers, avoiding sitting for long periods of time, using deep diaphragmatic breathing, implementing intermittent fasting, and using a host of other “unconventional” fat loss techniques.
So what are you waiting for? Are already be taking a cold shower each morning. If not, start doing it, and if so, start doing it A) before you’ve eaten and B) with green tea, coffee, or some other caffeine source in your system. Combine this tactic with limitation of vegetable oil and quelling of inflammation with sleep and lifestyle strategies, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for fat loss, without spending hours in the gym or without eating a restrictive diet for life.