Updated: Mar 3, 2019
Fat. It’s just there, always on your mind, always tampering with an outfit that you want to wear. You check how you look in the mirror, and you don’t like what you see. Magazines and online searches tell you to take one supplement after another to get rid of it, you fail again, disappointing. You try dieting. This diet and that diet, nothing seems to work for you, even exercise. Let’s face it, fat sucks. And it’s unhealthy to have too much of it. So what do you do? How do you address the issues?
Let’s start this discussion by saying that overweight does not necessarily equal unhealthy. This is important to understand before we begin in order to make your quest a little less urgent, and a little more targeted and continuous. Fat is not lost overnight, at least not as much as we would like to lose. If we do it right, we can lose about ½ to 1 pound a week. But that’s just fat. We can lose water weight too, but that’s not fat! So forget the diets that tell you that they can create miracles. They cannot. And dump the scales that weigh your entire body including the fat. Look, if we could fill a one gallon milk jug with fat, it would weigh about 7.5 pounds. That’s right, 7.5 pounds of fat lost is equal to a gallon of milk! But 7.5 pounds of weight lost could be water, muscle, fat, and perhaps some of that dinner you had last night!
So now that we have a perspective on this, let’s look at 10 ways to lose weight effectively. There are other methods, but only a few proven strategies that have been shown to target the fat.
1. Don’t Eat Sugar
Added sugar is extremely unhealthy. Studies repeatedly demonstrate that sugar has uniquely harmful effects on metabolic health. Sugar is routinely added to everything to make it taste better, even things you don’t think have it. Moreover, sugar is often hidden under many different names, some sources have over 50 names for sugar.
The problem is, sugar is half glucose, half fructose… and fructose cannot be metabolized by the liver in any significant amount . When you eat a lot of refined sugar, the liver gets flooded with fructose, and is forced to turn it into fat in order to utilize it properly. Numerous studies have shown that excess sugar, mostly due to the large amounts of fructose, can lead to increased accumulation of fat in the belly.
Some believe that this is the primary mechanism behind sugar’s harmful effects on health… it increases belly fat and liver fat, which leads to insulin resistance and then to a host of metabolic problems.
Liquid sugar is even worse in this regard. Liquid calories don’t get “registered” by the brain in the same way as solid calories, so when you drink sugar-sweetened beverages, you end up eating more total calories.
Studies also show that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to a 60% increased risk of obesity in children… per serving. This includes sugar-sweetened beverages, soda, fruit juices, various sports drinks, as well as coffee and tea with sugar added to them. Keep in mind that none of this applies to whole fruit which (as a part of a balanced diet) is extremely healthy and has plenty of fiber that mitigates the negative effects of fructose.
Bottom Line: Excess sugar consumption may be the primary driver of belly fat accumulation, especially sugary beverages like soft drinks and fruit juices.
2. Eating More Protein
Believe it or not, protein is the most important macronutrient when it comes to losing weight. Protein has no added sugar! It has been shown to reduce cravings by as much as 60%, boost metabolism by 80-100 calories per day and help you eat up to 441 fewer calories per day.
If weight loss is your goal, then adding more protein to your diet and cutting down carbs is perhaps the single most effective change you can do. Not only will it help you lose fat… it can also help you avoid re-gaining weight if you ever decide to abandon your weight loss efforts.
There is also some evidence that protein is particularly effective against belly fat. One study showed that the amount and quality of protein consumed was inversely related to fat in the belly. That is, people who ate more and better protein had much less belly fat. Another study in Denmark showed that protein, especially animal protein, was linked to a significantly reduced risk of belly fat gain over a period of 5 years. The same study also showed that refined carbs and vegetable oils were linked to increased amounts of belly fat, but fruits and vegetables were linked to reduced amounts.
Many of the studies showing protein to be effective had protein at 25-30% of the daily calories. Indeed, 30% protein, 40% fat and 30% carbs (from vegetables) appears to be the sweet spot for weight loss. So… make an effort to increase your intake of unprocessed eggs, wild caught fish, seafood, and grass fed meats, and poultry. If you struggle with getting enough protein in your diet, then a quality protein supplement (with whey protein) is a healthy and convenient way to boost your total intake. But watch for the added sugar.
Bottom Line: Eating enough protein is a very effective way to lose weight. Some studies suggest that protein is particularly effective against belly fat accumulation.
3. Cut Carbs from Your Diet
Alright, you knew this was coming. Carb restriction is a very effective way to lose fat and keep it off, but also a great way to get fat if you eat them. This is supported by numerous studies… when people cut carbs, their appetite goes down and they lose weight.
Over 20 randomized controlled trials have now shown that low-carb diets lead to 2-3 times more weight loss than low-fat diets. This is true even when the low-carb groups are allowed to eat as much as they want, while the low-fat groups are calorie restricted and hungry! Just avoiding the refined carbs (white breads, pastas, flour products, etc) should be sufficient, especially if you keep your protein high.
Bottom Line: Studies have shown that low-carb diets are particularly effective at getting rid of the fat in the belly area, around the organs and in the liver.
4. Eat Foods Rich in Fiber.
What many do not realize is that dietary fiber is mostly indigestible plant matter which has a huge bearing on our gut health. It is often claimed that eating plenty of fiber can help with weight loss, true. But it’s important to keep in mind that not all fiber is created equal.
It seems to be mostly the viscous fibers that have an effect on our fat weight. These are fibers that bind water and form a thick gel that “sits” in the gut and gently moves everything out of the gut as we digest. This gel also dramatically slows the movement of food through your stomach and small bowel, and slow down the digestion allowing for greater absorption of nutrients. The end result is a prolonged feeling of fullness and reduced appetite.
One review study found that an additional 14 grams of fiber per day were linked to a 10% decrease in calorie intake and weight loss of 2 kg (4.5 lbs) over 4 months. In one 5-year study, eating 10 grams of soluble fiber per day was linked to a 3.7% reduction in the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity, but it had no effect on the amount of fat under the skin. But here’s the kicker. Fiber feeds the gut flora and makes our gut healthier. While most understand that our gut bacteria is responsible for over 80% of our immune system, few realize it is paramount for fat loss (more on this later). The best way to get more fiber is to eat a lot of plant foods like vegetables and fruit.
Bottom Line: There’s evidence that soluble dietary fiber may lead to reduced amounts of belly fat, which should cause major improvements in metabolic health.
5. Change your Gut Health
Fact: Our gut is home to approximately 100 trillion microorganisms. It’s the largest organ in the human body. The human gut contains 10 times more bacteria than all the human cells in the entire body, with over 400 known diverse bacterial species in it, of which more are being discovered each year.
So, we’ve only recently begun to understand the extent of the gut flora’s role in human health and disease. Among other things, the gut flora promotes normal gastrointestinal function, provides protection from infection, regulates metabolism and hormone balance, and comprises more than 75% of our immune system. Singularly it is one of the most important systems in the human body, although we actually could not live without any of them
The breakdown of this gut bacteria has now been linked to diseases ranging from autism and depression to autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and type 1 diabetes to name a few.
Research has continually shown that the gut flora, and the health of the gut in general, plays a significant role in both obesity and diabetes. We see this at Revibe every day. Almost everyone who comes in with blood sugar issues, thyroid problems, chrome’s or colitis, celiac disease, yeast infections, or fibromyalgia also has a leaky gut, a gut infection, or some other chronic inflammatory gut condition.
This is what we now know. The composition of the organisms living in your gut determines – to some extent, at least – how your body absorbs the nutrients you eat, how easy (or hard) it is for you to lose weight, and how well your metabolism functions.
A study published in 2010 in Science Magazine found that mice without a certain type of bacteria in their gut gain excessive weight and develop full-blown diabetes and fatty liver disease when fed a high-fat diet. If we think of the gut flora as a community of synergistic bacteria we need a proper balance to keep everything working correctly. Too much or too little of one type of bacteria causes issues within the gut that leads to obesity and eventually disease. The study authors found that these bad bacteria caused a low-grade inflammation in the mice, which caused them to eat more and develop insulin resistance.
The most interesting part of this study is what happened when the researchers transferred the gut flora from the deficient overweight mice into the guts of skinny mice: the skinny mice immediately started eating more and eventually developed the same metabolic abnormalities the overweight mice had. In other words, obesity and diabetes were “transferred” from one group of mice to the other simply by changing their gut flora.
Now this is interesting because studies have shown that the composition of the gut flora differs in people who are obese and diabetic, and people who are normal weight with no metabolic irregularities! Read this paragraph again, it’s important…….
So, different species of bacteria seem to have different effects on appetite, weight gain, weight loss, and the metabolism. In the Science magazine study, mice with disproportionate bacteria (deficient mice) experienced an increase in appetite and ate about 10 percent more food than their regular relatives. But it wasn’t just that these mice were hungrier and eating more; their metabolisms (hormonal systems) were damaged. When their food was restricted, they lost weight – but still had insulin resistance. They still were prone to gaining the weight back and still had metabolic issues.
Other studies have shown that changes in the gut flora can increase the rate at which we absorb fatty acids and carbohydrates, and increase the storage of calories as fat. When we look at human studies we discover studies find that obese individuals have about 20 percent more of a family of bacteria known as firmicutes, and almost 90 percent less of a bacteria called bacteroidetes than lean people. Firmicutes help your body to extract calories from complex sugars and deposit those calories in fat. When these microbes are transplanted into normal-weight mice, those mice started to gain twice as much fat. This is one explanation for how the microflora in your gut may affect your weight.
Another study from 2010 showed that obese people were able to reduce their abdominal fat by nearly five percent, and their subcutaneous fat by over three percent, just by drinking a probiotic-rich fermented milk beverage for 12 weeks (Kefir). Given that the control group experienced no significant fat reductions at all during the study period, this is one more gold star for probiotics.
Probiotics have also been found to benefit metabolic syndrome, which often goes hand-in-hand with obesity. This makes sense since both are caused by a diet high in sugars, which leads to insulin resistance, fuels the growth of unhealthy bacteria, and packs on excess weight.
What this all means is that someone with a bad balance of gut flora could eat the same amount of food as someone with a healthy balance of gut flora, but extract more calories from it, upset the hormonal balance more and gain more weight. That means that healthy gut bacteria is essential to good health and keeping slim. Unfortunately, several features of the modern lifestyle directly contribute to unhealthy gut flora:
Antibiotics and other medications like birth control and NSAIDs mess up the balance. Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods kill off good bacteria. Diets low in fermentable fibers retard the growth of good bacteria and dietary toxins like wheat and industrial seed oils kill off the bacteria that leads to a leaky gut. Other factors include chronic stress, chronic infections and eating foods high in antibiotics.
We also know that infants that aren’t breast-fed and are born to mothers with bad gut flora are more likely to develop unhealthy gut bacteria, and that these early differences in gut flora may predict overweight and obesity in the future as well as (with vaccines) lead to a higher rate of autism.
The most obvious first step in maintaining a healthy gut is to avoid all of the things I listed above. But of course that’s not always possible, especially in the case of chronic stress and infections, and whether we were breast-fed or our mothers had healthy guts.
If you’ve been exposed to some of these factors, there are still steps you can take to restore your gut flora. These include:
Remove all food toxins from your diet. This includes fluoride in drinking water, grain fed meat, including those that have received hormones or antibiotics. Fructose, sugar, processed carbohydrates and fast foods.
Eat plenty of fermentable fibers (starches like sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc.), vegetables, and fermented foods (pickles, Korean kimchi, natto, sauerkraut, etc.).
Take a high-quality probiotic.
Take digestive enzymes
Treat any intestinal pathogens (such as parasites) that may be present by getting a stool test and blood tests.
Bottom Line. To lose weight first restore your gut flora to a healthy balance with less toxic foods in your diet, and pre and pro biotic supplements.
6. Exercise is Very Effective at Reducing Fat
Exercise is important for various reasons. It is among the best things you can do if you want to live a long, healthy life and avoid disease.
Cardiovascular exercise (like walking, running, swimming, etc.) has been shown to cause major reductions in fat in numerous studies, but it is not the best method. From a cardio stand point we need to strengthen the heart and cardiovascular system, but let’s face it, cardio alone fails to build muscle. Muscle burns fat! Again, keep in mind that we need to move. We need to get at least 10,000 steps a day, so sitting behind a desk all day is not going to help, even if you do exercise.
Cardio exercise has its benefits. In one study, exercise completely prevented people from re-gaining abdominal fat after weight loss, implying that exercise is particularly important during weight maintenance. Exercise also leads to reduced inflammation, blood sugar levels and all the other metabolic abnormalities that are associated with central obesity. Most important, cardio exercise promotes the use of fat as a fuel (if you eat lower levels of sugar) and increases lipoprotein lipase, which helps break up bad fats and use them more for fuel than storage.
Bottom Line: Cardiovascular exercise can be very effective if you are trying to lose fat, but should be mixed with strength training. Exercise also has a number of other health benefits.
7. Train High Intensity not Low Intensity.
High intensity Interval Training (HIIT) produces a phenomenon called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). In a nutshell, this means that your metabolism is going to stay elevated after you exercise, so you continue burning calories even after you are done training. Sometimes metabolism stays elevated up to 72 hours after an intense weight training session. EPOC is the gift that keeps on giving (in terms of body fat reduction).
HIIT training includes strength training, but also covers Peak 8 (sometimes referred to as Sprint 8), metabolic conditioning and The Revibe Method. All are well known for their fat burning capabilities. Compelling and ever-mounting research shows that the ideal form of exercise is short bursts of high intensity exercise, something Revibe has been doing since it was founded in 2006, and something which I have advocated since 1985.
Not only does it beat conventional cardio as the most effective and efficient form of exercise, it also provides health benefits you simply cannot get from regular aerobics, such as a tremendous boost in human growth hormone (HGH), aka the "fitness hormone".
One study published in the Journal of Obesity reported that 12 weeks of HIIT not only resulted in significant reductions in total abdominal, trunk, and visceral fat, but also provided significant increases in fat-free mass and aerobic power.
Other research published in the journal Cell Metabolism showed that when healthy but inactive people exercise intensely, even if the exercise is brief, it produces an immediate measurable change in their DNA.
Several of the genes affected by an acute bout of exercise are genes involved in fat metabolism. Specifically, the study suggested that when you exercise your body almost immediately experiences genetic activation that increases the production of fat-busting (lipolytic) enzymes.
Yet another study found that unfit but otherwise healthy middle-aged adults were able to improve their insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation after just two weeks of interval training just three sessions per week. A follow-up study also found that interval training positively impacted insulin sensitivity. In fact, the study involved people with full-blown type 2 diabetes, and just ONE interval training session per week. They were able to improve blood sugar regulation for the next 24 hours.
Bottom Line. While exercise has many benefits, high intensity strength/interval training has been found to produce superior results in a fraction of the time.
8. Track Your Foods and Figure out Exactly What and How Much You Are Eating
I am not advocating a calories in Vs calories out approach. This is the approach we have currently to weight loss and it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out it’s a flawed approach. In other words it’s not how much you eat, it’s what you eat that is important. Pretty much everyone knows this, even if you still advocate the above flawed formula.
However… surprisingly, most people actually don’t have a clue what they are really eating, thanks to the deception of the food industry, emotional eating, restaurant foods and hidden sugar and fat.
Many people think they’re eating “high protein,” “low-carb” but tend to drastically over- or underestimate because they fail to track what they are eating. This is dangerous and can lead to unhealthy food intakes and imbalanced diets. I think that for anyone who wants to optimize their diet, tracking things for a while is absolutely essential.
It doesn’t mean you need to weigh and measure everything for the rest of your life, but doing it every now and then for a few days in a row can help you realize where you need to make the changes and whether you are on track (or not).
Again, you will want to boost your protein intake to 30% of calories, just eating more protein rich foods won’t cut it. You need to actually measure and fine tune in order to reach that goal. I also recommend about 40% healthy fats and the remaining 30% carbohydrates from vegetables.
Bottom Line. To be successful, don’t guess your way through a diet. Measure your intake over a few days and calculate your nutrients to ensure you are in line.
9. Get more sleep
Studies published in The Journal of the American Medical Association and The Lancet suggest that loss of sleep may have a direct effect on how hungry a person becomes the next day. These studies show that not getting a good night's sleep can make you feel more hungry as your body increases the production of cortisol, a hormone which is released when you're under stress and is responsible for regulating your appetite. Overeating can lead to higher blood sugar levels and increased insulin production, which can result in the storage of excess body fat. Additionally, sleep loss can affect the body's metabolism, which may further interfere with the body's ability to lose weight.
Bottom Line. Quality sleep for 7+ hours per night helps your body recover and lose fat
10. Detox your body
Most detox programs tend to be fairly short–3 to 21 days—and restrictive in calories. They eliminate fast foods, alcohol, caffeine, sugar and sometimes meat, dairy or wheat. Most focus on vegetables and fruits, sometimes raw, sometimes juiced. Some are based on nutritional supplements such as protein powders others on pills and other concoctions.
But all contain “cleansing” elements, like fiber and fluid, meant to remove metabolic wastes from your body. Herbs such as milk thistle or nutritional supplements such as l-cysteine may also be used to stimulate liver enzymes that help break down toxins found in our bodies, including obesity-promoting chemicals such as tributyltin and bisphenol A. Some have you drink a solution of a purified, powdered clay called bentonite, or activated charcoal; both are super-absorbers, both work. Some detox regimes recommend colon-cleansing enemas; others prescribe saunas to help excrete toxins through your skin, not all of these are very effective.
When it comes down to it, though, a whole foods approach is preferable to juice fasts or supplement-based programs. Most of the detox programs cause a rapid detox which actually compromises your health since the body needs time to detox, and often we need to target the toxins in order to effectively eliminate them, and that requires a professionals help. The best detox overall is a natural, whole foods diet which some heavy metal detoxing supplements to begin, followed by a blood and liver cleanse (lemon and water) and finally a tissue cleanse (raw apple cider vinegar and water). This approach supports your liver and colon, improves your metabolism, and helps you lose weight without taking it to extremes that could lead to nutritional deficiencies or fluid imbalances.
Bottom Line. Start your diet with a detoxing of both heavy metals and other factors that could affect your success. To determine your approach, use a health care professional that will help you to understand what needs to be eliminated.
11. Be Regular.
Not that Way! I mean make a plan to hit your workouts at a specific time and in an environment that motivates you. During your work day strive to move as much as possible (10,000 steps/day). At a specific time of the day go to the gym or hit your weight set in the basement. But don’t be casual about it, be intentional. If your exercise habits are part of your daily calendar, you are far more likely to succeed than if you try to find time in your busy day.
12. Drink Water
When people are trying to lose weight and shed fat their main goal to long-term weight management should be to raise the metabolism and burn more calories, right? But, what most people fail to realize is that their hydration level directly affects their metabolism.
Water is involved with almost every biological function in the body, so therefore your body’s metabolism slows down in a dehydrated state. When your body does not have adequate amounts of water, your calorie burning machine (muscles) slow down dramatically. Over 70% of your muscle consists of water, so when they are not fully hydrated their ability to generate energy is severely inhibited. Another important factor to understand is - your body’s ability to utilize fat as fuel is also restricted when you are in a dehydrated state. Combine these two factors and you have one slow metabolism! So drink at least half your body weight in water daily. Filter the water to remove the city toxins and enjoy more energy because of it.
Bottom Line. Drink water to maintain a high metabolism.
So, today, let this day be the first day to start fresh, eat right, train hard, live healthy and be proud of your accomplishments.