(Or, 5 Tips for Faster Fat Loss, If You Wanna Be Lame About it)
I’m sitting at the gym, stuck here on this gorgeous day, when I should be outside running with my shirt off past the local college women’s field hockey team.
Who started practice earlier this week.
Anyway, since I can’t enjoy the weather, I’ll help you get hotter so you can enjoy it in my stead.
That in mind, I’ve put together a list of 5 simple tricks and tips you can use to increase your rate of fat loss. Check out mine—and then let me know your favorite strategies in the comments.
Yes, I’m serious. Fasting until you’d normally eat lunch is one of the most powerful, foolproof, controversial, and totally effective methods to lose fat and improve your hormonal profile around – I even wrote a book about it.
Really quickly: Fasting past breakfast will:
Before you start up with me, no, fasting won’t slow your metabolism. The idea that not eating will slow your metabolic rate is based of the fact the eating increases your metabolic rate; the increase occurs when you eat due to something called the Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF). Basically, you expend energy to break digest, absorb, and utilize the food you eat. This part is true.
Here’s the part that’s not true: the suggestion more often you eat, the more often your metabolism will increase, therefore not eating often can lead to metabolic slowdown. For years, you’ve been told that eating 5-6 small meals per day helps you keep your metabolism elevated. Again, not true.
The fact is that TEF is determined by your total energy intake, not how often you eat. So, it doesn’t matter if you have 2 meals or 8, as long as you’re getting the same number of calories, the effect will be the same.
All of which is to say that skipping breakfast will help you burn fat and reduce your calories. If you’d like these benefits without cutting your calories, simply eat your day’s calories in the window from lunch to dinner.
I’m a big fan of sleep.
Why? It’s simple: lack of sleep is associated with:
Not sure about you, but none of that sounds good to me. But what’s more is that there are hormonal implications as well. It’s been found that sleep less than 6 hours per night for as little as two weeks can lower testosterone levels by 10-15%. That’s insane—and it also means less muscle and more fat. On a similar, hormone-y note, deep, restful sleep releases plenty of our fat loss-friendly pal growth hormone, as well as lowering cortisol, which directly contributes to belly fat storage.
So, if you want to compromise sex drive, have trouble focusing, and die earlier, all while sabotaging your fitness efforts… by all means, keep thinking you’re “fine” with just 5 hours per night.
This is an interesting trick that I picked up in high school from a fellow wrestler—one who seemed to have a much easier time dieting down to make weight than anyone else. Here’s the skinny (I love puns, have you noticed?)
If you ever find yourself teetering on the edge of committing a dietary faux pas, grab your toothbrush and start scrubbing your chompers. There are a few reasons this works.
First, nothing kills a Krispy Kreme kraving like a mouth full of Peroxide. To make this more effective, get yourself a few tubes of the strongest, nastiest-tasting baking soda/peroxide/hydrochloric acid combination toothpaste you can get your hands on. Something else you can do is pick up a tooth-whitening product. In much the same vein, you can toss these on when you’re feeling a craving, and (aside from not being able to even speak, let alone eat for 30 minutes), you won’t want to eat anything. That stuff tastes terrible.
The second reason the teeth-brushing trick is effective stems from psychology. Like it or not, much like a bunch of salivating dogs, we have all been conditioned to some extent to have specific reactions to specific stimuli. In this case, assuming you have decent dental hygiene, you’ve grown up with the habit of brushing your teeth after you’ve eaten. Again: you do this after you’ve eaten—when you have been fed and are no longer hungry.
As a result of the fundamental tenets of Pavlovian conditioning, we have formed an association between brushing our teeth and feeling sated. By brushing your teeth in the face of a craving, you can often trick yourself into thinking that you’re not even hungry.
Of course, this has the added benefit of making your pearly whites even more pearly white. A pretty sweet bonus, considering that most people diet to look better, and nothing says, “I’m sooooo pretty” like a shining white smile.
(or, Learn How to Use “Cheating” to Your Advantage)
Cheating isn’t always bad. Just ask my ex-girlfriend (cue rimshot). Kidding, kidding.
Anyway, unless you’re like, super hardcore, you’re bound to give into a craving(s) and binge your ass off at some point during your quest for leanness. Don’t sweat it though, because if planned appropriately, cheating on your diet can make your dieting efforts a hell of a lot less psychologically taxing and can even accelerate your rate of fat loss.
Basically, there is a hormone called Leptin which regulates a lot of your metabolic processes. Leptin is known as the anti-starvation hormone—which means when you are not starving, you have a lot of it. When you eat less, Leptin levels drop.
Which probably doesn’t sound bad, until you realize the profound physiological effects this can have.
Essentially, when Leptin levels are high, your body burns fat faster. When they are low, your body is more inclined to hold onto fat.
In dieting terms, that means when you are eating too little, your Leptin levels drop, and you actually burn fat at a rate slower than when you are not on a calorie restricted diet.
Instead of falling victim to the trap of either settling for slowed fat loss, or constantly lowering calories, you have the option of “cheating” on your diet.
Kind of like how cheating on your boyfriend leads to accelerated loss of respect, cheating on your diet can lead to accelerated loss of fat.
Yes, that’s what I said.
Not the respect part, the fat loss part.
If planned well, a weekly binge fest can actually triple your rate of fat loss.
For more information on how to effectively incorporate “cheating” into your dietary schedule, check out CheatYourWayThin. Written by my good friend Joel Marion, CYWT is a diet based around using the manipulation of Leptin via cheating. (On your diet.)
This one’s just for the ladies.
I often recommend overfeeding or cheating to many of my clients, several of whom are female. One thing I have begun to pick up on is that women are especially susceptible to cravings when they are at the apex of their menstrual cycle.
Which brings me to my point: a few years ago I came across an interesting bit of information in the form of a study that stated that cravings women get during their cycle are really not healthy to deny.
It seems these cravings are greatly influenced by the specific hormonal response the craved foods trigger. As an example, if you’re craving pretzels or pickles, chances are it isn’t the food that you’re craving, but rather the high sodium content. Of course, I’m not an endocrinologist, so please take what I say with a grain of salt (pun intended).
Denying yourself these cravings can possibly lead to a less than desirable hormonal environment, and makes you very cranky… which creates a less than desirable environment for those of us who have to be around you. (I can’t wait for the hate mail. I’m joking, ladies.)
To avoid both, if you’re someone who plans cheats and/or overfeeds, make the effort to schedule one when you know your cravings are going to be the worst. I cannot say exactly when during your cycle that will be—you know your body better than I do—but assuming you keep careful track of your menstruation, you should be able to get a general idea.
Make it easier on yourself, and have your cheat when you need it the most.
…besides, anyone bleeding from the genitals for five days is entitled to a little chocolate.