Recent studies have proven that the biggest culprit when it comes to gaining weight and holding onto stubborn fat is actually processed sugar and refined carbohydrates.
For decades, the food and weight loss industry has labelled "dietary fat" as the main problem, but today's science proves that this is not necessarily the truth.
Understanding the way your body converts energy or calories into fat, helps you take back control over your weight because it encourages you to make smarter food choices.
When it comes to dietary fat, one of the most important things to understand is that not all fats are created equal.
Some fats are absolutely vital for protecting the nerves and supporting optimum body function and they also play an important in managing weight, whilst others are toxic and lead to inflammation, so it's important to know the difference.
There are also a handful of other common factors that typically cause your body to gain weight and store fat, which are much easier to manage once you're clear on the basics of how and why your body stores fat and how it uses fat as a fuel source.
Keep reading to learn our six tips for encouraging your body to tap into faster fat burning.
These are some of the key secrets to sustainable weight management, boosting your energy and even fending off a variety of illnesses and chronic disease.
1. Eat Healthy Fats & Quality Protein
Whilst it may seem counterintuitive to "eat fat" if you're trying to burn fat, there are good reasons why the right kinds of fats are essential to sustainable weight management.
Remember, there are 'good' and 'bad' fats and not all fats are created equal.
Healthy fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and these can be found in cold-pressed plant oils such as, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia oil, flax seed oil and whole foods such as raw nuts, chia seeds and avocados.
Unhealthy fats are generally industrial seed oils that have been hydrogenated and converted into "trans fats". The other worst kinds of fats, are saturated animal fats that have been processed into products such as bacon, salami, sausages and commercial dairy foods.
Trans fats are prolific in packaged foods, particularly baked goods like cookies, cakes, croissants, frozen foods and margarine. If your goal is to train your body to burn fat or to effectively manage your weight, these products should be minimised, or better still, eliminated from your diet.
Not only do these types of heavily processed fats cause weight gain, high cholesterol, heart disease, and more, but their chemical make up also promotes inflammation, which ultimately causes your body to lay down fat as an insulator for the toxicity.
When it comes to animal fat and animal foods as a source of protein, there is definitely room in a healthy diet for clean sources such as raw organic dairy products, free-range eggs, grass fed butter, pasture raised meats and wild caught seafood (if you're not vegetarian). Clean animal protein is known to reduce hunger hormones and to satiate the body very effectively, helping you to balance blood sugar which is important for sustainable fat burning and weight management. If you are going to include animal protein in your diet, just be sure to eat it only in moderation and also to include plenty of plant fibres from fresh seasonal vegetables in your eating plan, to keep you regular to and to help move it through the body.
Healthy fats provide a source of efficient fuel for your body and brain and are crucial for optimum cellular and organ function and protection.
By switching to healthier sources of fat and high quality protein in your diet, you’ll not only notice that you'll feel more nourished with more energy, your body will find it easier to stop holding onto stubborn fat around your waist as well, particularly when combined with the other important steps we'll share with you here.
You can learn more about dietary fat in our blog, Good Fats Versus Bad Fats.
2. Eat Complex Carbohydrates, Not Refined Carbs
There are lots of misconceptions about "carbs" these days, but the truth is that carbohydrates are an essential macro nutrient and source of fibre, minerals and energy.
Unrefined, complex carbohydrates like whole grains, beans, legumes and vegetables are your friend and should not be avoided as part of a healthy diet.
On the other hand, processed and refined carbs are a big problem because they are known to raise insulin, spike blood sugar and encourage your body to store fat if not immediately used as a fuel source.
Refined carbohydrates or simple sugars are typically natural foods that have been heavily processed and stripped of their most important nutrients and fibres. Examples include; white bread, white flour, white sugar, white pasta, white rice, pastries, packaged breakfast cereals and processed fruit juice.
Complex carbohydrates do not send the body into metabolic chaos. Instead, they cause a steady release of energy and nutrients into your body, that supports healthy digestion, strength and body function.
It's important to reiterate that refined carbs are known to give fast, short term energy hits, but these boosts quickly turn into hunger, lethargy and irritability in most people if they are not balanced with whole, unrefined carb sources in the diet.
By minimising your consumption of refined carbohydrates and leaning more towards whole and unrefined sources, you’ll nourish your body, sustain your energy and begin to change the way your body holds onto fat.
3. Exercise Daily
When you find an exercise you enjoy, it should become a regular part of your daily life.
Life is movement and your body craves exercise in order to function at its best.
This means, you can change your body shape by moderate physical activity on a regular basis that gets your blood moving, strengthens your cardiovascular system and places a little tension on your muscles.
If you're trying to lose weight, focus on two key areas:
- Break a sweat - get your heart rate up to a steady level to the point where you break a light sweat for at least 30-45 minutes and do this at least 3 times per week;
- Add some resistance - muscle is the engine in which fat is burned, so to tone up, you need to include moderate resistance training into your exercise routine that stimulates your muscles. Examples include; circuit training, cycling, weight training, pilates, hot yoga, interval training and lap swimming. Choose the activity that's right for you and do it consistently 3-4 times per week.
Tip: For optimum fat burning, try exercising first thing in the morning on an empty stomach when you're in a "fasted" state. In a "fasted" state insulin is low and there is little glucose immediately available in your blood stream, so your body will look to stored fat as its fuel source, which means faster fat burning.
Breaking a sweat also helps you to naturally release stored toxins directly out through the surface of your skin. Remember, perspiration is a natural eliminatory channel of the body that needs to be supported if you are wanting to burn body fat or maintain your ideal weight.
4. Intermittent Fasting
One of the most powerful dietary tools for encouraging your body to burn fat faster and more efficiently is, intermittent fasting.
Intermittent Fasting is simply time-restricted eating, whereby you reduce the window of time in your day that you give yourself access to food.
One of the most popular formats that works well for many people, is known as 16:8, meaning you fast for 16 hours in a day and then spread the consumption of your calories within the remaining 8 hour "feeding" window.
For example, if you were to eat your last meal (dinner the night before) by 7pm and then not eat breakfast the next day until 11am, you would be following the 16:8 protocol.
The reason why intermittent fasting is so effective, is because the extra hours of fasting basically "train" your body to tap into fat as a fuel source.
When your body spends more time in a "fasted" state, there is less glucose in your blood stream, meaning your body starts to become very efficient searching for fat as a source of energy instead of constantly relying on sugar or glucose, that is otherwise always readily available.
By experimenting with intermittent fasting a few days each week, you will find a sweat spot in terms of a "time window" that works for you. One of the best things about intermittent fasting, is that you can incorporate it into your weekly routine with very little disruption to your current lifestyle.
You can learn more about intermittent fasting in our blog: Intermittent Fasting: Health Benefits and How To's
5. Improve Your Sleep
Sleep is a vital part of the healthy weight equation because sleep deprivation reduces the production of the hormone, Leptin, which encourages the body to expend energy and is also a natural appetite suppressant.
When you sleep your body performs so many important functions, including the assimilation of nutrients, resetting and recovery, so it's important to get enough.
The optimum amount of sleep is 8 hours.
Not enough sleep, or poor quality sleep, has been linked to weight gain, plus a host of other health issues.
One of the secrets to getting a restful night's sleep is to ensure that you have a quality pre bedtime ritual.
Turn off all electronic devices at least an hour before bed and avoid eating right before you go to sleep. Read a book, do some light stretching, listen to some quiet music, or take a warm bath in the hour before bed time.
Ensure there is clean, fresh air circulating in your room when you sleep - slightly crack the window, turn on a light ceiling fan or box fan to help you breathe electrified, moving air.
Minimise the light entering your bedroom and diffuse a few drops of pure essential oils to help you relax and breathe easier throughout the night.
A quality night's sleep on a consistent basis will ensure that you're refreshed, energised, less prone to illness and more inclined to get your morning exercise routine in on a daily basis which is such a vital weight management principle.
6. Avoid Stress
A major discovery in the health community has been the big impact that stress and anxiety has the body in storing fat.
In this day and age, if you're constantly running yourself ragged and trying to “do it all”, it can take a major toll on your wellbeing and your waste line.
Stress causes your body to releases the stress hormone, Cortisol, which in turn increases appetite and tells your body to add fat as an insulator or mechanism of protection.
While stress may seem external and outside of your control, by taking simple steps to manage your stress and state of mind, it will go a long way to helping you to manage your weight.
Choose a stress-relieving activity that works for you, whether it be reading, walking in nature, practicing a few minutes meditation, yoga, hot salt baths, or relaxing social time with friends, whatever it is that has a calming effect on you, make that activity a part of your routine as often as you can.
Stress management is so important because it will help stop your body from releasing excess cortisol, which is very important for maintaining your ideal weight.
Learn more in our blog, Cortisol: How to Know When Your Stress Levels Are Too High & What to Do About It.
The Main Takeaway
There are a number of good healthy reasons to follow diet and lifestyle habits that encourage your body to burn fat as fuel.
Unfortunately, most of the population today are extremely metabolically inflexible, meaning their body's are so over fed that they only know how to use glucose for fuel. The problem with this, is that it ultimately leads to constant hunger, irritability, weight gain and even eventual diseases like obesity and diabetes.
For this reason, it's a good idea to embrace some of the steps and tips shared with you here and you'll go a long way to not only avoiding health problems, but also making your body very proficient at burning fat and running more efficiently the way that it's meant to.
Tolman Self Care.