Fat metabolism is the most efficient way to produce energy, allowing you to go and go and go without burning through a ton of calories. But efficiency is the enemy of fat loss. To lose body fat, you want to churn through calories—calories from carbs, calories from fat, calories from anything—and you get there through carb metabolism. “The more energy-demanding the work, the more likely you are to lose body fat,” Zimmerman explains.
While it may not be earth-shattering, there’s evidence to back up the advice that registered dietitians have been giving for decades. For many years, R.D.s have been urging weight-loss clients to eat dinner earlier and stop snacking a few hours before bed. It seemed like a no-brainer—after all, when was the last time a late-night binge consisted of a salad and carrot sticks?—but researchers from Brigham Young University decided to put the theory to the test.
You must have noticed that some of your friends eat a lot of sugar-based foods, fried foods, or cold drinks. Yet, they manage to have a flat stomach, the reason being they have a very high metabolic rate. If your metabolism is not good, you may have a bloated stomach. Thyroid conditions, diabetes, and other medical conditions can be the reasons for slow metabolism.
We call it a beer gut for a reason: Your body tends to prioritize getting rid of any alcohol in your system, so it targets those calories first, which may impede fat burning, explains Hultin. Alcohol also tends to be higher in calories (7 per gram), and its inhibition-dissolving tendencies may lead you to overeat. Lose the booze, and you’ll likely lose more weight, too.
Getting your workout in first thing can burn more fat than sweating it out later in the day. When you first wake up, carbohydrates, your body’s preferred energy choice, are in short supply, so your muscles are forced to burn fat for fuel, a process known as ketosis. For men, they’re an added boost because testosterone levels are highest in the a.m., allowing guys to push a little harder during their workouts. Here’s how many minutes you need to exercise to burn fat all day long.
There’s mounting evidence that our body’s natural internal clocks, or circadian rhythms, drive a lot of our biological processes, including weight maintenance. They tend to sync up with daylight. That could be why studies have shown that shift workers tend to have a higher rate of obesity and weight gain—their body clocks are out of sync. One study even found that a third of people who experienced an interrupted sleep cycle for less than two weeks became prediabetic; all of the poor sleepers saw markers for the risk of obesity and type two diabetes climb.
If you eat a carbohydrate-rich meal (lots of pasta, rice, bread, or French fries, for example), your body releases insulin to help with the influx of all this glucose into your blood. As well as regulating blood sugar levels, insulin does two things: It prevents your fat cells from releasing fat for the body to burn as fuel (because its priority is to burn off the glucose) and it creates more fat cells for storing everything that your body can’t burn off. The result is that you gain weight and your body now requires more fuel to burn, so you eat more. Since insulin only burns carbohydrates, you crave carbs and so begins a vicious cycle of consuming carbs and gaining weight. To lose weight, the reasoning goes, you need to break this cycle by reducing carbs.
The brain signals fat cells to release the energy packages, or fatty acid molecules, to the bloodstream. The muscles, lungs and heart pick up these fatty acids, break them apart, and use the energy stored in the bonds to execute their activities. The scraps that remain are discarded as part of respiration, in the outgoing carbon dioxide, or in urine. This leaves the fat cell empty and renders it useless. The cells actually have a short lifespan so when they die the body absorbs the empty cast and doesn’t replace them. Over time, the body directly extracts the energy (i.e., calories) from food to the organs that need them instead of storing it first.
Although insulin in anti-lypolytic, meaning it blunts fat burning, the goal post training is to spike insulin levels for the sake of muscle growth. The best way to cause an insulin spike is by using high glycemic carbs such as dextrose, glucose, or maltodextrin. These carbs cause a rapid rise in blood sugar and will therefore cause the greatest insulin response.
Another misconception about HIIT is that it will cause muscle loss. This is just not true either. This myth got started because a higher amount of calories burned during HIIT will come from stored amino acids (muscle tissue) when compared to lower intensity cardio. As long as HIIT sessions are kept to a short duration muscle loss not be a problem. In fact, muscle growth and muscle retention are increased due to the effects HIIT has on anabolic hormones. Just one 10-15 minute session of HIIT can increase testosterone and growth hormone levels for hours after the workout has ended.
While it’s often assumed that bread is off-limits when you’re trying to lose belly fat, the right bread may actually expedite the process. Switching to sprouted bread can help out carb-lovers eager to get their fix without going up a belt size, thanks to the inulin content of sprouted grains. The results of a study published in Nutrition & Metabolism reveal that found that pre-diabetic study subjects whose diets were supplemented with inulin shaved off more belly fat and total weight than those whose meal plans didn’t pack this healthy prebiotic fiber.
Arteries (are-te-rease): The blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood away from your heart for delivery to every part of your body. Arteries look like thin tubes or hoses. The walls are made of a tough outer layer, a middle layer of muscle and a smooth inner wall that helps blood flow easily. The muscle layer expands and contracts to help blood move.
Creatine phosphate is stored within muscle tissue and is a source of stored energy used during short bouts of high-intensity exercise. The creatine phosphate stored in your muscle tissue assists your body’s main energy source used during the first few seconds of performing any type of exercise, called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. Your body uses ATP for energy during the first five seconds of any exercise, such as lifting a weight, and stored creatine phosphate is then oxidized to produce an additional five to eight seconds of energy. This entire process lasts for about 15 seconds. Creatine supplements help increase the amount of creatine phosphate stored in your muscle tissue allowing you to lift more weight for more reps.
That’s a big deal considering time and opportunity are some of the biggest hurdles people face when trying to make fitness a priority. “Everyone is dealing with full schedules and competing priorities, so it’s often difficult to add something new to your routine without trading something else out,” O’Connor says. You’ll still need to shift some things around to make running a serious part of your life, but being able to run right out your front door, free of charge, eliminates some very real roadblocks. (For proof, see: 20 Incredible Stories of Weight Loss Through Running)
A study from Canada’s McMaster University (partly funded by Dairy Farmers of Canada) put women on several different diets (lower protein, low dairy; lower protein, medium dairy; higher protein, high dairy) and found they all lost the same amount of weight — but that the higher-protein, high-dairy group lost the most belly fat while also gaining and holding onto the most muscle mass. “It seems… increasing calcium and protein in the diet may help to further promote loss of fat from the worst storage area in the body,” said Andrea Josse, lead author of the study.
Cut back on carbs: Remember how insulin has the biggest impact on fat storage? Well, carbs have the biggest impact on insulin. ”Too many carbohydrates leads to a spike in the hormone and then to more fat storage,” Seedman explains. Not only should you cut back on carbs, but your insulin will spike even more from processed ones, so cut any carb that’s not a whole grain or from real produce completely. And don’t worry: Carbs are traditionally thought of as your body’s main source of energy, but your body also has the ability to fuel from fat, so if you’re increasing your fat and protein intake, your body doesn’t need as many carbs to run. You still need some amount of carbohydrates to regulate certain biological processes, like your muscles’ ability to stay hydrated and maintain structural integrity, so don’t cut the macronutrient completely, Seedman warns. For a high-fat, low-carb diet, aim for at least .5 of your bodyweight (so a 200 lb person would eat at least 100 grams of carbs per day), he suggests. For a more balanced calorie-restricted diet, that number jumps to .75 to 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight.