You're Either Burning Fat or You're Not
There are as many "diets" as there are things that make us gain weight and most of them are trash. A big problem with traditional dieting is that it's restrictive and can be honestly quite painful, focusing on drastic cuts to calories that simply isn't sustainable.
While cutting down calories is an important component to weight loss, long-term weight loss relies on your body's ability to enter a state where it's efficiently burning fat for energy. When your metabolism is primed to burn fat, it's also not set up to store fat, and combined this makes it far easier to get in shape.
Because cutting calories alone can lead to lost muscle as well as fat, and all the negative effects of reduced energy in general, you need a solid strategy to enter fat burning rather than just going in blindly. The following information should form the foundation from which you begin your fat loss journey and teach you how to keep it off for good.
It's All About Insulin
Everyone has heard of insulin - it's the hormone that helps shuttle blood sugar all over your body to the various cells that need it. Insulin is like a key that opens up the locks to your organs and tissues, letting in sugar for energy. The problem and the weight gain occurs when we eat too much sugar over too long of a period.
When you eat too much sugar (or simple carbs in general) your cells react less and less effectively to the presence of insulin. Instead of accepting the blood sugar, the cells become resistant to the insulin, which causes too much circulating blood sugar which can damage organs like your kidneys, eyes, heart, and blood vessels.
In order to avoid this prolonged state of high blood sugar, your insulin pokes your fat cells to convert the sugar into stored fat. This is a great short-term solution but it's pretty bad in the long term when we're eating far more carbs per day than necessary. The prognosis here is grim, leading to increasing weight gain, pre-diabetes, and then diabetes.
The other negative factor with high blood sugar and high insulin is that no matter how much we work out, the presence of insulin effectively shuts down the process by which we burn stored fat.
This means that as long as large amounts of insulin are circulating, we can't really tap into our fat stores, burn fat, lose weight, or get healthy, no matter how much we exercise or starve ourselves.
Thankfully there is a very simple series of solutions that hinge on mitigating insulin presence and getting the most out of our workouts. Following this advice step-by-step will help you enter fat burning mode quickly and efficiently. The process looks like this:
We'll go into each in detail to give you a better understanding of the process.
Cut Out Sugar and Processed Carbs
If you're overweight, you're probably also addicted to sugar. In this article, I will use the term "sugar" to represent all carbs because when they get digested, ALL carbs convert to blood sugar, so it doesn't really matter how they went in (except with fruit sugars which we'll get into). Your body is primed to react to sugar the same way your ancestors did thousands of years ago when sugar was scarce, but it's not scarce anymore.
Because of the wild availability of sugar, our metabolisms simply haven't caught up to it being ever-present in our foods. So the first thing you'll need to do is cut out all of that added sugar. This includes literal sugar but also bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, candy, and most fruits.
"But aren't fruits healthy?" The answer to that question is sure, if your metabolism is healthy, but fruit is actually packed with the worst type of sugar, fructose. Fructose can only be metabolized by the liver, which taxes an already strained system when you're overweight.
While it has fiber and nutrients and it's certainly preferable to juices or smoothies, whole fruit is still full of fructose. When you're trying to enter fat burning mode quickly, cut out all sugar, including fruit. Keep your carbs under 20g/day, and at most around 50g to ensure quickly burning through stored blood sugar and switch your body into fat burning for energy.
Improving Your Diet
Once you've cut out the processed foods and sugar, you need to plug those holes with solid nutrition. There are plenty of key nutrients your body requires, including an array of vitamins and minerals but contrary to popular belief, you don't need to eat a ton of weird, exotic foods to get all that nutrition.
Farm-raised meat fed grass (or whatever the animal's natural food source would be) is a great source of all the necessary amino acids, most fatty acids, and many micronutrients you need. Some of the vast array of micronutrients that meat, particularly beef, provides are:
All of these nutrients are absolutely critical to health and all but iron can only be found in meat. Beyond beef, make sure you get a wide variety of cold water fish like salmon and sardines. Oily fish provides so much omega-3 fatty acid that is necessary for brain function and neuron health that it's critical that it's included in your diet.
After protein, the bulk of your meals should be made up of fibrous vegetables. Green veggies in particular are loaded with tons of vitamins and minerals that will round out your nutrition and really improve your diet. For your everyday dietary needs, some of the best vegetables are:
Spinach and kale - Full of potassium and better nutritionally than lettuce for salads.
Broccoli - Protein, calcium, and potassium, broccoli is powerhouse vegetable.
Cauliflower - Like broccoli but with more culinary applications.
Onions - Delicious, and full of fat-busting enzymes.
Peppers - Peppers, particularly green peppers.
Brussels Sprouts - Like broccoli and cauliflower, these little gems are fibrous and bursting with nutrition.
Also, though they’re not actually vegetables but fruits, avocados and olives are great ways to get vegetable fats into your diet without chugging olive oil. Avocados are also full of potassium, magnesium, and fiber.
After you’ve filled out your meals with healthy proteins and vegetables, you’ll want to finish your dietary improvements by tweaking some specific aspects of your food intake. Some tips to maximize fat mobilization are:
Cook With Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a medium-chain triglyceride, which means it's a type of fat that basically cannot be stored.
It almost immediately gets converted into energy when ingested, and because of that it spurs your body to continue converting other fats into energy, which is the goal of all of this
While there are metabolic benefits to caffeine in all forms, there are some extra benefits to coffee specifically.
These include helping regulate blood sugar, lowering insulin resistance, and helping mobilize free fatty acids in the blood for energy while there are metabolic benefits to caffeine in all forms, there are some extra benefits to coffee specifically.
These include helping regulate blood sugar, lowering insulin resistance, and helping mobilize free fatty acids in the blood for energy
Avoid Processed Seed Oils
Avoid processed seed oils like canola, vegetable, corn, and soybean oils because they cause inflammation.
With your diet in order, it shouldn't take but a few days to enter into ketosis, the state in which your body burns fat for fuel instead of carbs. One of the biggest benefits to ketosis is the appetite-suppressing effect it creates, and you can use that appetite suppression to introduce intermittent fasting into your fat loss routine.
At first, fasting might sound like something people only do for religious purposes or perhaps to protest something, but in reality fasting is probably far more important to our health as humans than we realize.
Our ancestors had to go long periods without eating sometimes, which means our modern bodies are still primed to utilize this fasting-and-feasting metabolism for optimal health.
Coupled with sugar avoidance and you can really set your body to shred fat quickly, and if you're in ketosis, the process is actually quite painless.
Intermittent fasting is a process in which you avoid ingesting any calories for a set period each day - typically around 16 hours to start. After that, you enter into a "feeding window" in which you can, well, feed.
The purpose is to be in an unfed state for as long as possible while still enjoying energy and focus.
Fasting itself increases mental acuity and alertness, likely a byproduct of a time when food was scarce and we needed to be alert to ensure our next meal. Regardless of the reason, the effect is very real and can be parleyed into real-world benefits at work, play, or the gym.
The easiest way to get into intermittent fasting and amp up fat burning are to:
Set a time to stop eating - usually around 8, after your evening meal
Skip breakfast, instead opting for water or black coffee/tea
Start the feeding window at noon or whenever 16 straight hours have elapsed from your evening meal, focused on low carb, broad nutrition
End your feeding window within the 8 hour limit and start your fast again
16:8 fasting is safe enough to be done everyday and can ramp up your metabolism, but intermittent fasting can be done on an 18:6 or a 20:4 schedule as well. It's not advisable to go a full 24 hours, not because it has negative effects on your weight loss but because it can be more likely to cause a binge.
Regardless of the duration, fasting will help you get into fat burning mode incredibly quickly, and it's pretty easy to do as long as you're keeping your carb intake low. This is because eating carbs increases insulin which makes you hungry and will make the 16 hours feel like forever.
The first day you plan on starting this routine, you should work out hard and for longer than you normally would. A good way to do this would be a decently intense cardio session right after a full-body weight lifting routine, including bench press, squats, and deadlifts.
These large, compound movement exercises will hit every major muscle group and ensure that all your large muscles get hit.
As those muscles rebuild, they will get stronger and more dense, which will in turn rev up your metabolism, but that's not the immediate goal here. What we want is to hit all of those muscle groups to deplete all of your stored glycogen.
When glycogen is depleted, that means any excess glucose in the blood is gone, too, which will kick-start ketosis. An added effect here is that your body will flush out all the water the glycogen was stored in, too.
This will cause an immediate drop in weight, and also make you look slimmer - most low carb dieters report a 10-15 pound weight loss in the first 2 weeks.
Truthfully, probably 50-75% of this will be water weight but that's okay because that means 25-50% will be fat. This is a big psychological boon that helps keep people hooked on nutrition and exercise.
A weekly routine of 4-5 days of weight lifting and 2-3 days of cardio, with 2 active rest days will get your body primed to burn fat.
The best part of being in a low carb state while you do all this wonderful exercise is that ketosis is nitrogen sparing, which is a fancy way of saying it spares muscle when you're in a calorie deficit. As we stated way back at the beginning, going into a diet and just cutting calories can burn muscle as well as fat.
This creates weight loss sure, but it will reduce your metabolism overall and lead to plateaus and the fat returning if you go back to eating at maintenance calories again. Keep your carbs low and your gym work routine and you'll be torching fat.
This part is easy, because though there are thousands of weight loss supplement companies clamoring for your money, most of them are pointless. Fat loss is all about proper diet, then nutrition, and the very last 1% might be due to supplements. Fortunately the most important supplements don't need to cost a ton of money:
Fish, Krill, or Borage Oil
These are all potent sources of omega-3s and aside from the borage oil, full of DHA, too. This is critical for brain and nerve health, and omega-3s help reduce inflammation, which impedes fat loss, so less inflammation is good!
Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory, but it's also a delicious spice that adds a pop of color to your food. You can supplement this one just by cooking with it.
Most people are deficient in vitamin D, and deficiency is linked to mental health problems, sleep problems, and difficulties losing weight among other things
Whey Protein Powder
It is great for fat loss, gut health, and blood sugar regulation, whey protein powder is a superfood if ever there was one
It is one of the most bio-available forms of magnesium, it can help with sleep, muscle cramps, mood, and weight loss
MCT or Coconut Oil
A great way to kickstart fat burning by converting immediately into ketones when ingested, MCT or coconut oil are great assists to fat burning
You don't need any of this but if you really want to ramp up your fat loss, these will help.
This means both getting enough sleep AND knowing when to unwind, both of which will keep cortisol levels down which leads to fat loss and reduction in blood pressure.
When cortisol is low, your body is less likely to hold onto stored fat, so it's integral that you manage it.
Putting It All Together
To get into fat-burning mode quickly, remember:
These changes will prime your body for weight loss and when done together will put your body into fat-burning mode very quickly.
The Diet Fitness King Team is a team of 6 people lead by the founder Greg Davis. We have all different levels of experiences and credentials in the health field and our goal is to provide people the highest quality information available. Everything we put out is well researched and we have a lot of passion and pride behind this! Please let us know if you find any incorrect information on our website or feel free to contact us with feedback in general.