When working to lose fat, focus on hormonal balance to release the stored
fat by FOOD CHOICES and then add in movement like walking (stress less)
…NOT high intensity exercise. (Keep reading and I’ll explain.)
Move, move, move your body in a way to reduce stress and allow the fat to be released. Leisurely walking, yoga, Thai Chi, light weights, anything that moves your body AND reduces stress. Even house cleaning counts as movement. (It may not reduce your stress unless you enjoy it…and that’s not me! 😉) Intense, long-duration exercises are stressful to the body (especially when dieting to lose weight) even when you enjoy them. Give yourself permission to switch to something else temporarily that is low-intensity if you are an avid exerciser.
ATTENTION: the amount of exercise you do to LOSE weight IS THE AMOUNT of exercise you need to do PLUS MORE in order to keep it off long-term. If you can not maintain the amount and intensity of exercise you are doing to lose fat long-term, then it is not a good long-term plan for maintaining. (Please understand this. Read that again and again until you memorize it.)
Exercise is fantastic, amazing and absolutely necessary for maintaining weight long-term, maintaining muscle mass, and for overall health, but very poor for losing fat. Studies have shown us this many times. People you know, and probably yourself, have been a victim of this, so you’ve personally seen it numerous times I’m sure. (Today it’s called “yo-yo” dieting.)
Let me explain. When you are eating less carbs (which is fantastic for lowering insulin and releasing stored fat) or just less calories (which is less carbs, less fat and less protein), and focusing on your diet, healing and hormonal balance… intense exercise, when not done correctly with a proper diet, will cause the adrenals to secrete stress hormones. Why, because you are not fueling yourself properly for strenuous exercise. You are eating for fat loss. You are not providing enough dietary energy to burn fat AND exercise intensely. Intense exercise tends to also make us hungrier and we overeat because we are hungry …because of the intense exercise. A vicious cycle right?!?
When the adrenals have been alerted, the body will secrete cortisol and adrenaline (“stress hormones”)…then your blood sugar will rise, because that’s what stress hormones do, in order for you to be able to “fight or flight (run away)”! You have then just stopped the fat burning process. (Read that again until you understand clearly.)
Chronic stress and not being able to lose weight go hand and hand. The thing is, some people lose weight when they get stressed. Please note, they are not losing fat, they are primarily burning muscle if they are not eating because of the stress and many times they are consuming carbs to “self-medicate”. You will not burn fat when you are stressed (high stress hormones and high blood sugar), but you will burn muscle. Ever see someone with skinny legs and arms but a large belly? High stress hormones is a possible reason. (This is not the only reason of course.)
Chronic stress is the number one killer in this country and NONE of us have to run from tigers/lions/bears, yet we live like it from the moment we wake up (alarms) to the time we go to bed and wonder why we are exhausted, have high blood sugar, have high blood pressure, low thyroid function and can’t lose fat.
When it comes to losing weight, particularly focusing on losing fat (which is the way I teach as a A4M Lifestyle Health Coach and Metabolic Effect Nutritional Consultant), you MUST focus on your DIET and simply move. Life is stressful enough, so don’t add to it at the moment when you are also trying to burn fat. Walking is THE BEST at helping your body release the stored fat (aka stored energy) and reducing stress. Do a few squats every day to work the leg muscles.(We NEED to be able to at least walk and squat for the rest of our life OR…you will need assistance as you get older to walk and go the the bathroom, so keep that in mind!) Once you reach your fat loss goals…exercise as much as you desire in a way that you enjoy!
The body can not be in “break down” mode (fat burning) and “build up” (building muscle) at the exact same time. It can not multitask. Because it requires different/opposing hormones to do the task. It can either “build up” (uses high insulin to build muscle and store excess energy/sugar in fat cells) OR it can be in “break down” (uses glucagon to release from the fat cells and muscle).
For this reason, it is imperative that you eat enough protein (not high protein because far too much protein will be broken down as excess and stored in fat cells as well) while you are in break down (burn fat) mode in order to PREVENT significant muscle loss during the “diet”.
For example, anyone ever watch Naked and Afraid?!? You see exactly what happens when you eat less and exercise more. Okay, I know this is the extreme, but the way I see some people try to lose weight, not by much! Yikes! The contestants eventually get to a point where they barely have enough energy to move if they can’t find protein within a few days. These people lose a lot of MUSCLE and very little fat. The more muscular participants actually lose a great deal of overall scale weight compared to the “chubbier” participants who lose some weight but they don’t actually get a great deal smaller. Why?!? Because muscle requires A LOT of energy. Muscle burns far more calories than fat at rest. If you are not providing the body with protein by your diet, your body will break down the muscle (as amino acids) in order to fuel you and your brain (this is called survival). If the body sheds some (or a lot) of the muscle, then it will not need to burn so much energy and you will be able to survive the famine better since you are not able to eat. Nowadays, the typical diets (eat less, exercise more) mimic this process to a lesser degree. Your body has no idea that you are choosing to do this to reduce your waist size. It only knows that it is starving and it needs to go in to “survival mode”.
Guess what happens when you have lost the muscle. You are excited that the scale went down, but now, your metabolism has slowed to a snails pace and then… because you reached your goal, you relax on the diet a little (or a lot) and cut back on the exercise. Then… the weight returns and usually even more pounds are added. (Again, it is called Yo-yo dieting!) You can not out smart biology. Never.
When focusing and working towards fat loss, you can not let the scale be your biggest indicator of success. You can’t. You have to focus on the hormonal balance of the food choices, by making sure your are eating correctly for you and keeping your hunger, energy, sleep, mood and cravings in balance (these are GREAT indicators of metabolic/hormone balance). If all of these are in balance, and you are losing inches, then you are probably in a fat loss mode. (Working with a knowledgeable practitioner or health coach is advised to be certain and to help you find your personal balance based on your goals and health.)
So…long story short:
2) Keep insulin low (by balancing blood sugar and eliminating all blood sugar spikes). Supplements can also be beneficial if you need help. Like MetabolicX for insulin resistance, or CarbCrave for help if you are addicted to carbs. CarbCrave is the BEST supplement I have found for helping people break the sugar addiction.
3) Hydrate (dehydration causes a high stress response, even more so than lack of food.)
4) Move as much as possible. (No intense exercise during fat loss). Movement is always required. Once you reach your goal, exercise as much as you desire. The Metabolic Aftershock program is short duration and can be used for low-intensity and also for high-intensity once you reach your goal.
5) Manage your stress throughout the day. (By taking deep breaths in & out (works immediately), prayer, meditation, stretching, think about someone you love, even using supplements, etc.) This is NOT optional. I have a reminder set on my phone 3-4 times a day to Breathe. Seriously I do. I recommend you do the same until it becomes a habit.
6) Get outside and get some sun directly on your skin and breathe in fresh air. I can not emphasis how important this is! 15-20 minutes every day that you possibly can.
7) Enjoy life knowing that you are healing your body. As long as you are on this planet, there is NO finish line or end date for maintaining health and healing.
8) There are so many more things I can list here but…I can’t possibly post them all.
The rules change once you reach your goal and move into maintenance. I will cover that another day.