Unfortunately, our distant ancestors did not do us any favors when it comes to body fat. In the days of hunter-gatherers, human beings had no idea when their next meal might be, so their bodies evolved to hold onto fat to be used as a source of energy in times of scarcity. This is also one of the major reasons that we love sugar. Sugar provides quick energy and makes the bod hang on to fat, both advantages to humans living thousands of years ago.
Now that food and sugar are both readily available, these traits that helped your ancient family members so much are a hindrance to your health and physique. The good news is that there are a number of ways to effectively melt away body fat that do not involve starvation, diet pills or the use of steroids.
Gradually reduce calories
While starvation is not a healthy (or effective) way to lose body fat, some caloric restriction will need to occur. It is important that this is not a drastic drop, because a quick and significant cut to calories will make your body think food is scarce. Its reaction will be to slow down your metabolism in order to hang on to fat and weight (thanks again ancestors). Make small decreases to your daily caloric intake every one to two weeks in order to avoid this issue.
Increase healthy fat and cut unhealthy carbs
While eating fat when trying to lose fat seems counterintuitive, the right types of fat will actually help. Healthy fats leave you satiated much longer than simple carbohydrates and unlike simple carbs, your body doesn’t turn them into sugar. This is why healthy fats are a great source of energy. Some examples of healthy fats are avocados, salmon, olives/olive oil, organic eggs, almonds, pecans, walnuts, organic butter and coconuts.
Opinions vary among fitness and nutrition experts about exactly how much to restrict carbs, but one thing they do agree on is that any carbs consumed should be complex carbs, not sugar loaded simple carbs. Some examples of complex carbs include vegetables, fruits, oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes and quinoa. Carbs should be consumed close to workouts and other physical activities as they provide your body energy at these times, but are not useful when you are sedentary.
Eat enough protein
Protein helps to fuel your metabolism because your body burns more calories while digesting it than it does when processing carbs and fat. In a study published in the American Journal of Physiology, one group of adults was fed a high-protein diet of about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day, while a control group consumed the standard recommended dietary allowance of about 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. The group eating the higher-protein diet burned significantly more fat over the course of the study. Protein is also vital to building muscle.
Eat 6 to 8 smaller meals per day
This is another way to trick your body into staying out of the “fat retention mode” that was kindly handed down to you by your caveman ancestors. In the same way you need to tend a campfire to keep it from going out, you need to keep feeding your body every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism in calorie burning mode. If you wait until you are famished to eat an enormous meal, your body will think it is starving and attempt to cling to fat for survival. By eating smaller portions of healthy foods more frequently throughout the day, you avoid this issue and keep your metabolism running at a high level.
These simple rules will help you to reduce body fat, but you also need to exercise regularly to realize your full fat burning potential.
If you want to learn more about nutrition and healthy living, contact the SCNM Medical Center.