Most of us carry a little extra weight in various places, but if you are one who stores it around the middle, it may put you at a higher risk for further health problems. So here are 5 important things to keep in mind when shedding that spare tire.
You body composition is controlled by hormones. Insulin is the energy storage hormone; it’s job is to take extra energy (or sugars) out of the blood stream and store it as fat. Glucagon is the fat mobilization hormone; it’s job is to get those fat cells to release their stored energy and add fuel to your energy burn. Cortisol is a stress hormone (fight or flight). When you are under stress, cortisol tells your body to hold on to resources, like calories in an attempt to prepare for the worst. High levels of cortisol lead to stubborn weight gain. This can also lead to adrenal fatigue with side effects like increased appetite, mood swings, fatigue, and a low sex drive!
The evidence is overwhelming that sugar is the enemy, not fat in the battle of extra pounds. Processed sugars, flours, corn syrup and processed food create an elevated hormonal response (insulin). Eaten regularly throughout the day can lead to chronic hyperinsulinemia, which is a condition of long term high levels of insulin which puts your body into a constant stage of inflammation and continuous storage mode. Decrease or cut out your sugar and processed food intake and eat proteins and healthy fats which leave you feeling full and have a smaller hormonal response.
Sleep is your body’s time to recover. During sleep your adrenal gland recharges, your cortisol levels drop and your tissues regenerate at a higher rate. The amount of sleep you get affects your appetite and your craving for sugary foods and caffeine. Shoot for at least 6-8 hours depending on your activity level.
Our bodies are 70-80% water and it is continuously being cycled through us. Not only does it make up most of all of our cells but it is vital in our how well our body functions. Dehydration lowers recovery and increases the buildup of waste products. At least 2 liters of water a day will keep your body efficient at clearing out waste products and functioning well. Also, if your body is in a state of dehydration it will hold on to the water it has, often leaving you feeling water bloated. To relieve this drink more water regularly and your body will give up the extra.
We’ve already discussed the high and fast hormonal response our bodies have to sugars, flours and processed foods which leaves you feeling hungrier and less satisfied. Changing your diet over to a fat based diet, full of healthy, unprocessed saturated fats will leave you feeling fuller, more energetic and more rested. Our bodies respond to good fats with a much slower hormonal response and fats are used at an even rate providing long term energy and slower digestion. This means less cravings. Fats are also necessary for nerve and brain function and will help you stay mentally sharp. Also, eat your yolks, dietary cholesterol is necessary for testosterone production (which everyone needs for lean mass and fat loss) and has no correlation to blood cholesterol levels.
Lastly, you need to crank up the intensity of your exercise. Coupled with healthy eating habits, high intensity exercise is the silver bullet in fitness training Remember we’re talking about hormones here and 30 minutes of training at submaximal effort (treadmill, elliptical, weight machines, distance running) does not provide a hormonal response. Sure it burns calories, but we are looking for long term hormonal changes that affect how the body chemistry works. 5-20 minutes of high intensity functional full-body movement using both weighted and bodyweight movements kicks your hormonal response into overdrive. You quickly diminish your energy stores, which triggers your body to crank out glucagon (fat mobilization and burn!). Stress hormones are reduced and happy endorphins are released into the bloodstream. You’ll wind up with a more efficient, increased metabolism. An added benefit to this type of exercise is time. In the span of an hour you can get a extremely effective workout as well as a warmup and cooldown.
Together these things can take you down the path of a leaner healthier you but don’t try to do it all at once. Crash diets and plans are rarely successful. Aim for long term lifestyle changes that can be maintained indefinitely. If you are not ready to give up cheese fries 5 days a week, start with trying 4 days a week and go from there. We’re in it for the long haul, make little improvements along the way and you’ll find that in time, you’ve made big changes.