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How Do I Lose Fat?
The do's and don'ts for effective fat loss

Go to:  Diet, New! ketogenic diet, Exercise , Supplements

This seems to be the question on everyone's mind, and for good reason, fat is so easy to acquire and so hard to get rid of.  Most bodies love to store fat, it's good security for when you run out of food. This is unlikely, but your body doesn't know that.  Unfortunately, the body loves storing fat so much that it will burn anything else available (muscle tissue, stored carbohydrate, etc.) before digging into the fat reserves.  Unless you trick it.

    The first thing your body will burn is stored carbohydrates in the form of glycogen.  The next  is muscle tissue, only then does it grudgingly dip into the fat stores.  This is why most diets don't work, especially "starvation" diets.  When you suddenly cut off the food supply, a survival mechanism kicks in causing the body to store every little bit of fat that it can!  This results in weight loss, but not much fat loss, and as soon as you DO eat something, it immediately gets stored as fat to replace any that was used.  This is NOT what you want, so you have to fool the body into thinking it doesn't need fat.   Here is a list of effective ways to do this, and you won't even have to starve yourself! It's never easy though.

Change your eating habits

Don't diet! Make a permanent change in how you eat

1)  Limit, but don't cut out high fat foods:  Dietary fat can be stored if taken in excess, however, some fat intake must be maintained to prevent the body from storing every bit of fat it does get. (see #6 below).

2)  Limit high sugar and high glycemic index foods (including fruit):  Simple sugars (and many "complex"carbohydrates) get easily converted into fat, and can also be the cause of high cholesterol.   Glucose, fructose, and sucrose are all simple sugars and maltodextrin (common in many "weight gainer supplements) has a very high glycemic index putting it in the same category as simple sugars.  I'm not saying not to eat fruit, as they contain many beneficial vitamins, just don't overdo it.  Keep it to 2 or 3 pieces a day.

3)Eat more frequently:  Yes, you read that right!  Eat 5 or 6 smaller meals a day (or 3 main meals and 2 -3 healthy snacks (protein shakes work well)).   There are several reasons for this, they are:

  • With smaller servings, your stomach will shrink and you will get full faster.

  • Digesting burns a surprising amount of calories, eat more often and burn more calories! 

  • When you eat a large meal, the body takes what it needs, and saves the excess as, guess what?  FAT.  Smaller meals prevent this even if you eat the same amount overall.

4)  Never eat before bed:  Plan your last meal to be at least 2 hours before bed.  The body likes to store fat while you sleep if you eat too soon before bed.

5)  Eat slowly:  It takes your stomach about 20 minutes to signal the brain after it is full.  If you eat too fast you will think you are still hungry and eat more.  If you're still a bit hungry after eating, do something to take your mind off food for at least 20 minutes and you'll most likely forget about the eating.

6)  Don't totally cut out fat:  Keep some fat in your "nondiet", as it helps get your body into a "fat burning mode".  Keep it "low to moderate fat" not "no fat".   try to stick to the "good" fats such as those from fish, flax oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, olive oil, peanut oil.

7)  This won't be easy so give yourself a break sometimes.   Allow yourself one "treat" per week, or even a day where you can eat whatever you want, and really enjoy it! 

8)  Eat foods that take lots of energy to burn:  These include most vegetables (especially the fibrous ones) and protein sources such as meat.   Cut the visible fat off of red meat and remove the skin from chicken.   Water-packed tuna is very good (if you like it). 

9)  Take it easy on complex carbohydrates as any excess gets easily converted to fat.  This includes rice, pasta, potatoes, and any "starchy foods".  Eat these regularly, but not too much at one time.  If you want to lose fat faster, cut down on these foods and replace with protein and fat.

10)  The breakdown should be about: 40% protein, 30% complex carbohydrate, and 30% fat.  This can be varied but keep the protein high and control your bodyfat by manipulating the carbohydrate content.  Most of the fat in your diet will come from the protein sources (meat and dairy).


Ketogenic Diets

A ketogenic diet is useful for rapid fat loss.  They take a bit of willpower but work very well to get to fairly low fat levels in a short time.  Expect losses of 2-3 lbs. per week.  More is possible but anything more than 2 lbs. per week increases risk of muscle loss.  The first week, you may lose 5 or more lbs. but most of this will be water loss so start counting your 2 lbs. a week after the first week and try to maintain that level.

Here are several variations of a ketogenic diet:

The fastest way to lose fat is to cut carbs out completely for one to three (or more) weeks depending on how much you have to lose.  After that, you eat carbs for a week and then go back to zero carbs, alternating until you get to the fat level you want.  You can lose several pounds a week on this diet but it's rather hard to stick to as you can just eat protein and fats.  The upside is that you can eat virtually as much as you want.  If you can make it through the first week it's not so bad.  This is known as a ketogenic diet.  This is the diet Andy, in my photo gallery got into his condition with, and he did NO cardio during that time.

A variation of this is the CKD, or Cyclic Ketogenic Diet.  With this, you go 5 days without carbs, and 2 days with.   This one is better for bodybuilders as the carb days add new life to the workouts, which is maintained almost until the next carb days.  The first week is the worst here and after the first carb up you should feel great for the next 3-4 days.  This method works well but not quite as fast as the "pure" ketogenic diet.
Another variation is the TKD, or Targeted Ketogenic Diet.  This allows for one carb meal on training days, usually taken at least a couple of hours before the workout.  With this, you get most of the benefits of a ketogenic diet and the carbs give energy for a better workout.  The workout theoretically uses up the carbs eaten allowing the diet to still work.
So, you ask, what can I eat on this diet?  Any kind of meat (steak, chicken, seafood, fish, or other type--even hamburgers with no bun, fat in the meat is not a concern), eggs, some dairy products (don't overdo these), nuts for snacks, diet soda if you need an imitation sugar fix, lots of water and small amounts of dark green vegetables.  A multivitamin is also highly recommended, as well as extra vitamin C, E, and B-complex.
What can't I eat?  Any kind of carbohydrate, including rice, pasta, bread, beans, corn, cereals, sugar or anything containing sugar, fruits (contains sugar).
Of course you can eat all of these on the carb up days.

How does it work?  In the absence of carbohydrates, the body will use partially burned fat molecules called "ketones" for energy.  When your body is burning primarily ketones, it is said to be in a state of ketosis, thus the name of the diet.


Start a Fitness Program

   If you haven't already done so, start exercising!   This is the best way to burn fat and stay healthy.  Your program should consist of a combination of resistance exercise (weight training) and cardiovascular exercise (aerobic).  One or the other won't usually be enough for long term fat loss.  

    As stated above, the body likes to burn muscle before it burns fat. Weight training forces your body to conserve and build muscle, thus preserving it.  If you weight train, your body will not burn muscle tissue for energy!  Now your body just has 2 things to burn:  glycogen and fat.  How do we get the body to burn the fat?   Aerobic exercise!  This consists of any low to moderate intensity, long duration activity.   Cycling, jogging, rowing, dancing, stepping(stair climbing) are all aerobic activities.  These burn primarily fat, after the glycogen is used up.

    How do we use the glycogen up?  This is where the weight training comes in.  The trick is to do your weight (anaerobic) workout first, which burns most or all of your glycogen, then do your aerobic exercise!   The body then has nothing left to burn but fat (remember, it won't burn the muscles because it needs them for the weight training and the glycogen is all used up)! 

    To put it simply:   Do an intense weight workout for about 45 minutes and proceed immediately to your aerobic activity (cycling, Stairmaster etc.) for at least 20 minutes.  This will supercharge your body and keep it in the "fat burning mode" for several hours after (your body can't easily store fat while it's burning fat).  You should sip a carbohydrate drink as you do the aerobics, and have a high protein meal or shake within one hour of completion. Do this 4 times per week for maximum benefit.



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