It’s Fat Tuesday; a time of celebration, partying, and over indulgence for many, regardless of religious affiliation. Whether or not you’re partaking in any festivities today, I thought I’d take this opportunity to focus on another, far less enjoyable thing; body fat.
For almost every exerciser on the planet, from the body builder to the guy who’s 400 pounds overweight, body fat is the enemy. Whether it’s for superficial reasons or literally life or death, the elimination of fat is why so many of us exercise. Obesity is a $100+ billion dollar industry. It accounts for nearly 10% of all medical spending in this country and is the reason there is seemingly yet another fat burning supplement or product popping up every week.
It goes without saying, Americans are obsessed with fat, namely, how to lose it. It makes sense; we’re one of the most overweight and least healthy of all 1st world nations on this planet. We gain weight easily, and expect to lose it, when we want, even faster. Unfortunately for the overwhelming majority of our fellow Americans, it doesn’t work that way. One of the biggest reasons people are unable to lose weight, is because they simply don’t know how. They don’t know enough about their bodies, about fat, or about exercise, to cause significant change in themselves.
Today, I try to change that.
I scoured the web looking for all sorts of facts and information about fat. A simple google search of “fat facts” turns up millions of results. While browsing through countless articles and studies, I’ve consolidated my efforts into what I consider to be the seven best fat facts you probably didn’t already know. As such, I’m not looking at the basic stuff today. I’m digging a little deeper and showing you some not so obvious things, that can play a big part in your fat-fighting battle.
Fat Fact #1
Diet soda might be keeping you fat. That’s right, your favorite zero calorie soft drink may be responsible for keeping your tummy soft and squishy. Why’s that? Well, artificial sweeteners found in these drinks (aspartame) in particular, have been shown to raise blood sugar levels, which could very well be playing a part in your fat retention . Busting your behind at the gym but not making the progress you think you should be? Consider giving up the diet sodas for a while and see how your body responds.
Fat Fact #2
Stress plays a much bigger role in your weight than you thought. Stress releases a chemical called cortisol. Coritsol directly impacts where and how your body stores fat. For those chronically stressed individuals, with an abundance of cortisol flowing freely throughout their blood streams, a specially enzyme to break down this stress-induced chemical is required. Where is this special chemical produced you may wonder? In subcutaneous fat of course. Let’s make this simple, when you stress, your body releases cortisol. When you have an abundance of cortisol in your body, it needs to be broken down. The enzyme which breaks down cortisol is found in fat cells; most regularly subcutaneous fat, i.e. the worst kind to have. Eliminate stress before it eliminates you.
Fat Fact #3
Soy protein is a fat killer. Studies have shown that a diet consisting of soy protein has “significantly reduced body fat, blood insulin levels, fat cell size, and expression of genes associated with abnormal colonic cell growth”. Interestingly, researchers found a bigger reduction in body fat amongst test subjects given soy protein versus casein protein. While this is just one study, you may want to consider increasing your consumption of soy products, such as tofu or edamame and slowly cutting back on dairy-based (casein) proteins to optimize your fat burning potential, and health.
Fat Fact #4
Adding the right fats to food will increase satiation. How many of you have a problem with not feeling full after a meal? Maybe you’re going back for seconds or thirds…or just simply grazing throughout the day. Well, all that grazing adds up. Want to eliminate those pangs of hunger that hit way too early in the morning? Consider adding healthy omega-3 fats to your diet. Looking for an easy way to do it? Throw a couple of tablespoons of ground flax seeds into oatmeal, yogurt, or even a protein shake in the morning. Sit back and bask in the contentment of a full, and soon to be flatter, belly.
Fat Fact #5
Metabolism is the key to increasing fat burn. Forget all the nonsense thrown your way about 8 minute workouts, or fat burning pills and drinks. If you really want to impact your weight and simply “tighten up”, you’ve got to impact your metabolism. Boost your EPOC with intense workouts, focus on adding muscle mass to your body, and eat a balanced and protein/fiber rich diet to slowly but surely raise that metabolism. When your metabolism is moving along at a speedy pace, you’re burning more calories throughout the day, thereby burning that hard to lose fat.
Fat Fact #6
Drink your fat off. While not a huge factor in burning fat, drinking icy cold water each day can play a part in your fat burning potential. When you consume icy water (low to mid 30 degrees Fahrenheit) your body must expend energy warming it up. Studies show that 8 glasses of ice water a day will require roughly 70 calories of extra energy expenditure. Multiply this by 365 days, and we’re talking almost 7 extra pounds of fat burn a year. I wouldn’t count on this alone to help me lose weight, but if I needed that extra push, the science says this will help.
Fat Fact #7
Each pound of fat means 7 miles of new blood vessels…And all those extra miles means your heart has to work that much harder to pump blood and oxygenate the surrounding tissue. It’s no wonder why those with loads of excess fat have weakened hearts. If you think a little excess fat is no big deal, remember this, and remember you’ve only got one heart. Once that goes, say goodbye.
Whether you’ve just begun your journey towards a lean and fit body or want to shave off those final pounds, the formula is simple. Boost your metabolism, eat a clean diet, consume ample protein, and above all, stay ACTIVE. Fitness is made to seem like it’s this mystery by those who want you to buy their products, use their services, or stay on their medications. On paper, losing weight and improving your health is one of the easiest things in the world. In practice, it takes a lot of hard work and determination, but with the right amount of knowledge and drive, you’ll be able to achieve all that you set out to conquer.