Be honest. sooner or later, the majority of people trying to lose fat easily have purchased a supplement, tried a diet, or jumped on some hot exercise trend determined by some variation of these claims. And inspite of the increased cardiovascular health - or whatever - claims, the truth is you bought that supplement or joined a program for one big reason: to burn fat. But what exactly does that term mean?
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"Technically we're 'burning' fat every minute of each and every day" says Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, author for many books including The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. "What we're really talking about here is increasing the amount of fat used as fuel which leads to weight or fat loss."
Countless products and programs promise to increase fat burning or fat loss. Exactly how do you cut through the hyperbolic claims and empty offers to determine the most effective, efficient method? You talk to experts and examine the science. Here's what they suggest.
Experts agree that controlling levels of insulin is the key to burn fat. "The real secret of increasing fat loss is to create a hormonal environment where insulin isn't elevated," says Bowden. "Insulin goes up in response to elevations in blood sugar." This master hormone doesn't respond to dietary fat. Protein, however, actually does raise insulin, but additionally triggers glucagon, insulin's sister hormone that releases fat.
But carbohydrate and insulin are soul mates, and when you eat that slice of pizza or carrot cake, insulin rises to the occasion. And insulin does one thing really well: it stores fat. If you wish to burn rather than store fat, then, you'll want to control insulin release. And limiting carbohydrates offers a key to doing that.
Adopting elements of a low-carbohydrate diet optimizes body composition. When levels of insulin are high, your fat cells essentially get 'locked' and fat reduction becomes fiendishly difficult. When levels of insulin drop, it becomes much easier to lose weight.
It has been observed from its users, that anytime you eliminate grains and stick to protein (especially plant-based protein), tons of green veggies and healthy fats, this lays the groundwork for overcoming weight loss resistance regardless of whatever health situation you are dealing with. Author Gary Taubes states that "If you doubt insulin regulates fat accumulation in fat cells, you are able to literally look it up in any good biochemistry or endocrinology...textbook...Insulin puts fat in fat cells. That's what it does. And our insulin levels, for the most part, are determined by the carb-content of our diet -- the amount and quality of the carbohydrates consumed."
Once you get your insulin levels under control, and optimize natural fat burning, vegetables play a key role in two ways. First is that consumption of high levels of green vegetables is linked to reduced hunger levels. Vegetables fill you up and are rich in micronutrients which research shows are linked to lower levels of disease. People have reported that increased vegetables have helped with sugar cravings- which helps you control your insulin levels.
Secondly, many plant foods, especially mushrooms function as "angiogenesis inhibitors." Angiogenesis is a process that results in the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels. In cancer, for example, angiogenesis occurs when a tumor grows big enough to need its own blood supply. What is interesting is that the growth of fat tissue is also dependent on this exact process! When you increase the amount of vegetables, especially broccoli, mushrooms, onions, greens and berries, you are eating a diet that will result in less fat being required to be burned.
Researchers are now looking into "Pharmacological manipulation of adipose (body fat) tissue (to) offer a novel therapeutic option for the treatment of obesity and related metabolic disorders." Translated into English, that means that drug companies are trying to turn the properties of those foods into drugs.
As we look at the research and science, we discover ample evidence that both approaches have strong benefits. As we always say, "keep an open mind and see what works for you."
JJ Virgin, CNS, CHFI, PhD, recommends eating protein at each meal for fat loss. A breakfast smoothie made from plant-based protein, for instance, kick-starts your day's fat burning by balancing blood sugar and insulin levels.
A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also showed a high-protein breakfast reduced ghrelin, a hormone that tells your brain to eat, better than a high-carb breakfast did. Lower ghrelin, coupled with balanced blood sugar levels, mean you're far less likely to make that mid-morning bagel cart or snack machine trip.
Virgin also provides a simple, healthy formula for quick weight and fat loss that focuses on balancing insulin levels. "Substitute one or two meals a day with this smoothie recipe," she says, which includes rice/pea protein powder (plant-based not whey-based), fiber, berries, spinach/kale and unsweetened coconut milk. And then make dinner lean protein, tons of green vegetables, and good fat like avocado or coconut.
There is absolutely no question that restricting calories plays a key role in the fat loss process. A lot of people, especially in the fitness community, are of the view that one must achieve and then maintain a calorie deficit. There is solid research that shows that calorie restriction leads to reduction in total body fat.
The problem with this view is that if this is the only approach you take, you'll find it tough to maintain that calorie deficit. The true secret to getting rid of body fat is to be open to as many scientifically proven paths as possible, which is the point of this article.
Fibre is something that also plays a key role in the fat burning process. Fiber accomplishes this in at least three ways: it suppresses ghrelin, delays stomach emptying, and buffers incoming sugar to balance insulin levels.
A study in Nutrition Reviews showed a mere 14 grams of fiber a day helped people lose a further four pounds over as many months, even when they made no other dietary modifications. This could be a challenge, but when you add fiber to the diet successfully, it helps you in so many different ways.