How Fat Loss Works Part 2
Today: How to Set the Body to Lose Excess Body Fat. (Part 2)
Body Fat Loss
When you know how the body is set up to use body fat stores yo-yoing can be eliminated. Successful optimization of metabolism can be achieved.
It is time to stop the blaming yourself when it comes to falling short of achieving your fat loss goals!
It’s not a lack of will power or motivation.
The fact is to Lose Body Fat your body MUST FIRST be set up to USE your stored Body Fat as Fuel.
Your body has criteria it wants met BEFORE it is willing to give up fat stores easily. That is the key to your success.
Today’s question came from an email subscriber asking:
Q: mo, How can I set my body up to lose body fat in a sustainable way?
The 71 billion dollar weight loss industry would love for you to believe that it’s all about counting the calories in against calories out.
They’d also like you to believe that when that doesn’t work for you long term:
- it’s a lack of your motivation,
- not having the right mindset or
- a lack of willpower.
This is not the full picture at all.
As a matter of fact following ‘plans’ that do not work for YOU can actually perpetuate all three!
Research shows that you could have the right mind set, be motivated, follow a calorie restricted diet and still not be losing the body fat stores at the same rate as someone else.
The KEY to Your Success: Meet your body’s criteria for letting go of fat stores.
The criteria and order that works best.
FIRST FOCUS your efforts on getting the timing and type of foods that are best for you to eat at and between meals. We covered that in Part 1.
Why focus on Timing and Type of Food
They are the 2 TOP hurdles when it comes to slowing down the use of stored fat as energy.
What Makes them the 2 Top Hurdles?
They both influence key hormonal messaging that controls the release of stored fat for energy use. Part 1.
This means even if you do all the other things shared today – it is the timing and type of food that will be the thing to slow down your body’s use of fat stores as energy.
After Timing and Type of Foods Layer on the items outlined today:
- that are relevant to you
- one at a time
This initial set up may seem slow but it offers exponential payoff.
“even when calorie restrictions were proportionally identical, some lost twice the percentage of their body weight as others during the six weeks of a strict diet” (10)(bold added)
That’s right same calories in and calories out and after 6 weeks of the same level of commitment, will power, motivation and adherence some lost twice their percentage of their body weight than others.
It is not in your head!
It can be more difficult to lose weight than the person you are comparing yourself to.
A person that has the same level of commitment and doing the same exact diet for the same length of time.
If you want to delve deeper into research resources and references are linked for you below to help get you started.
Now Why? and How can this be?
Why can one person eat the exact amount of calorie deficit as someone else and not lose the same amount of fat stores?
Answer: There is more criteria that the body works off of than calories in calories out when it comes to expending fat cells as energy.
“Focusing on the criteria the body needs to have in place so it’ll freely open the gates of the fat cell to release fat molecules as fuel is what will make counting calories in and calories out work.” mo
“The most effective way for your body to lose body fat is to have your body set up so it can easily USE body fat stores as fuel.”
Here is the bottom line:
If the metabolic conditions are met body fat is used.
If they are not met your body will work really hard to hang on to your fat stores.
What is missing when it comes to the plethora of ‘plans’ to lose weight is the awareness that metabolic conditions exist.
These conditions need to be met for your calorie deficit to work. Calories in calories out equation is not the entire equation.
Please- do not misinterpret the message as the calories in calories out equation does not work.
The Equation DOES Work! – Once the metabolic conditions are met.
The message is to share the conditions; present the criteria so you can save yourself a ton of frustration and yo-yoing.
Knowing how the body is set up to give up its fat stores more freely allows you to leverage the way the body works.
This way you can meet the metabolic conditions so the calories in calories out equation will be amazingly effective for BOTH
- body fat loss and then
- for maintenance.
Calories In Calories Out Equation is Super Helpful
When the body has met the criteria and your hormones message all systems that it is safe and a good time to use stored fat as energy.
That is when the calories in calories out becomes an effective, efficient tool for:
- using excess fat stores as energy
- and for maintenance optimal stores
Before we list the criteria I believe it is super helpful to know that:
The criteria your body wants you to meet before giving up your fat stores isn’t a flaw.
The criteria is actually a miraculous way for your body to evaluate how to best keep you alive — system wide!!!
It is truly an amazing set up where there is constant communication about ‘status’ between all of your systems so your body can function and protect you.
The swiftness of the communication between ALL systems is incomprehensibly fast, and nimble. The messaging influences an array of tweaks and adjustments body wide.
All so we can live.
Here’s an oversimplification of how amazing our body is for the purpose of today’s topic-
First it’s a fun fact: Our Fat is an ORGAN.
“Fat tissue has metabolic, bio-mechanical, immune, and secretory functions.”(12)
The fat organ sends out hormone messages throughout the body.
Just like other endocrine organs, it is an intricate player of multiple systems.
The crosstalk that goes on between systems means your body fat influences and is influenced by multiple other systems.
When the need for more energy arises due to a deficit of calories your body checks in.
It surveys the terrain - decides what’s going on, figures out what’s needed, and what the best resource is at that time to provide the energy your cells need to cover that deficit.
If the messaging is that it is best to NOT use fat cells your body will do its best to hang on to them.
Isn’t that so cool! Our body works hard to keep us alive.
When the metabolic conditions message the body that the body is in a good place to use body fat as fuel it does so efficiently.
Soooo….What messages our body in a way that keeps us from using Body Fat as Fuel?
Some of the BIG influencers that communicate to your body that it’d be best to hang on to fat include:
“Chronic stress and body fat are part of a feedback loop that slows metabolism.” (16)
“Researchers have discovered that chronic stress stimulates the production of a protein that inhibits an enzyme involved in fat metabolism.”
“Stress causes you to accumulate fat faster, or at the very least slows down fat metabolism.”(15) (bold added)
We of course all have stress. Stress is NOT the Problem. CHRONIC STRESS is.
Having chronic stress is the problem. And chronic stress isn’t just overwhelm or being too busy.
Chronic stress to your body includes things like:
- chronic low level inflammation,
- maybe certain medications,
- chronic lack of sleep,
- having a HPA Axis that is chronically over stimulated….
Research confirms stress can rise and fall with no negative impact.
It is when a chronic imbalance of any of our systems pushes our Stress Hormone Cortisol out of balance.
Once this stress hormone (Cortisol) is not cycling optimally our body sees itself as being under chronic stress.
Here is how knowing this helps us.
When we know chronic stress keeps messaging our body that it is not a good time to use fat stores as energy we can take the steps to reduce the chronic stress.
This is NOT as difficult as many believe it to be.
To rebalance - the chronic stress messaging I encourage focusing on the biggest influencer first. Something called the HPA Axis.
The HPA Axis responds to the consistent, specific, SIMPLE Focused Actions by rebalancing the chronic stress loop.
This is why I begin the 52 Weeks of Self Care focused on balancing the HPA Axis first– while we sleep.
I highly recommend using the techniques as your first step because rebalancing your HPA Axis can be all you need to get the ball rolling. (Some subscribers share some of their results here)
Insulin circulating in the bloodstream, even with a caloric deficit, your body is going to resist giving up fat as energy. (How The Body Uses Body Fat Part 1 article/video)
Not having enough time where our insulin levels are low enough to trigger our Hormone Sensitive Lipase means the fat cells will not receive the messaging to open its gates and let the stored fat come out to be used as fuel.
When insulin chronically circulates– higher stores of fat are maintained and this sets the body up to easily accumulate abdominal fat which in turn causes disturbance in glucose and lipid metabolism….the cycle continues (3)
Knowing this is helpful because
When we space our eating our insulin has time to lower the body will signal to the hormone responsible for opening the gate of our fat cells (Hormone Sensitive Lipase) to use fat stores as fuel.
This knowledge helps us leverage the way our body works.
NOTE: Rebalancing the HPA Axis may improve circulating insulin as well. This is why I always suggest 90 days of HPA Axis first.
Rebalancing the HPA Axis can improve so much by removing hurdles created by chronic stress. Minimally rebalancing your HPA Axis will help make it easier to recognize:
- which foods sustain us longer and
- what timing works best for our schedule and lifestyle.
☀️ I have a free APP coming out so you can track Micro Decisions and your 90 days of HPA Axis subscribe here and we’ll send you an email the moment its ready to download.
Slowly, as we get better at identifying the foods that sustain us longer, it’ll be easier to get off the roller coaster that drives cravings which will be supportive when it comes to successful
- increasing more time between snacks/meals.
The added space between snacks/meals provides Hormone Sensitive Lipase more time to signal to your fat cells that they can release stored fat molecules when you have a deficit of calories.
“Age is one of the most important factors of changes in energy metabolism. The basal metabolic rate decreases almost linearly with age.” (3)
“The volume of skeletal musculature decreases and the percentage of fat tissue increases with age”
“the decrease in muscle mass relative to the total body may be wholly responsible for the age-related decreases in basal metabolic rate”(3)
Body fat has less caloric need than muscle plus:
“Skeletal muscle is the primary metabolic target organ for glucose and triglyceride disposal and is an important determinant of resting metabolic rate. The potential consequences of age-related reduction in skeletal muscle mass are diverse, including reduced muscle strength and power, reduced resting metabolic rate, reduced capacity for lipid oxidation, and increased abdominal adiposity” (18)
“Substantial evidence supports the increased consumption of high-quality protein to achieve optimal health outcomes. A growing body of research indicates that protein intakes well above the current Recommended Dietary Allowance help to promote healthy aging, appetite regulation, weight management, and goals aligned with athletic performance. Higher protein intakes may help the loss of muscle mass and strength that predisposes older adults to frailty, disability, and loss of autonomy. Higher protein diets also lead to greater reductions in body weight and fat mass compared with standard protein diets, and may therefore serve as a successful strategy to help prevent and/or treat obesity.” (17)
“Skeletal musculature is a fundamental organ that consumes the largest part of energy in the normal human body” (3) It influences around 20% of the calories we need.
Of the total calories we need daily we can easily influence 20% of what is needed by focused muscle work.
Knowing this is helpful because we can:
Leverage the way our body works and prioritize:
- muscle resistance work and
- increased consumption of Complete Protein.
Drinking water. Keeping Hydrated:
If the body is dehydrated the cell gets more and more dehydrated, the formation of triglycerides increases, and the fats and proteins are not able to be used so our body uses glucose.
The stimulus for insulin secretion is a HIGH blood glucose. We are looped back to having too much circulating insulin.
“As the cell gets more and more dehydrated, the metabolism of free fatty acids (ffa) and amino acids (aa) to pyruvate and/or acetyl-CoA decreases producing a dependence on glucose as the main fuel source [as has been reported for obesity “
You do not need to be DEHYDRATED. Hypo-hydration is enough to slow down the release and use of the stored fat molecules.
Knowing this is helpful because we can
Pay attention to our water intake.
- Forming a simple habit like filling up the bottles with the amount of water at that works for you at the beginning of the day will help set your body up to use fat stores as energy.
The Final 2 for Today:
The next 2 are good to focus on after 1 through 4 have been woven into your Simple Self Care Lifestyle.
The reason is that the first 4 often resolve stubborn fat loss as well as many other body issues.
And minimally the process to achieve the next two becomes easier to navigate.
Chronic low Inflammation caused by:
- ‘intolerance’ to foods or
- processed foods
both can keep the body from using body fat stores as fuel.
When the body can’t recognize, disassemble with ease, and use the food you’ve chosen to eat the chronic inflammatory response will keep the stress hormones circulating and the body will hold on to fat stores.
Whenever possible choose foods
- that agree with your body.
- that are unprocessed.
This way your body can recognize, digest, process and make use of it more easily.
How knowing this helps us.
Uncovering a food intolerance or digestive challenges can help address the root cause of chronic inflammation.
It is empowering to discover what works well with your body and what does not.
Shift the focus on deprivation where you are always thinking I can’t eat this or that - turn it around instead focusing on ‘This Food makes me feel good, helps me sleep better….
Actively being on the lookout for what WORKS can be a life changer.
The process of weeding out what works and what does not means you can decide if you want to consume something or not. Clear eyed. Confident and Decisively. Eliminating frustration.
Wouldn’t it be great to know if it is the tomato, or beans, or cheese, or….that is causing low level inflammation that is keeping you from using body fat and not just the calories!?!
Taking the time to gain the understanding of what works for YOUR body is time well spent.
Not only will it help you achieve your weight goal more efficiently BUT it’ll you improve your maintenance EXPONENTIALLY!
Last for today:
Your intestines microbiome.
“The main physiological functions of the gut microbiota are digestion, vitamin synthesis, and metabolism” (9)
“The gut flora controls fat tissue expansion and glucose metabolism (13)
“…we are what we eat and what our gut microbiome is.” (19)
“Probiotics may also inhibit fat accumulation, reduce inflammation and insulin resistance, and regulate neuropeptides and gastrointestinal peptides”
Specific strains to help individual intestinal flora is best done with your practitioner. Discovering what may be the right probiotic for you will depend on many, many factors.
There will be a post series in the future on the basics of probiotics you can subscribe to be in hte know.
For now research shows that:
“Specific strains belonging to the genus Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium were the most used and those that showed the best results in reducing body weight.”
Calories in calories out is not the full story.
Simple Focused Actions that are taken consistently can optimize your metabolic processes.
Balanced metabolic processes will encourage your body to use stored body fat as fuel when there is a caloric deficit.
This is how you achieve your goal.
It is not a mistake but a safety mechanism to hold on to fat stores.
Your body is set up to protect you and by making sure you will have enough fuel to get you through ESPECIALLY while you are under chronic stress.
It is set up so that when your insulin levels are high it does not need to take from your fat stores. Video How to Lose Body Fat Part 1
Your body protects you as you age and your muscle mass declines by helping you store calories.
Your body will protect you when you
- do not have enough water,
- when you have an inflammatory response and
- when your immune system is subpar.
How lucky are we!
Knowing how our body works means we have a clearer picture of how we can set our body up to use body fat as fuel reducing excess storage.
To lose body fat your body will USE body fat more efficiently with the following criteria:
1- meals timed so circulating insulin has time to lower
2- a strong relaxation loop that comes from removing chronic stress on the body (HPA Axis)
3- workouts that improve muscle strength
4- when you are hydrated
5- eat foods/unprocessed that we know our bio-individual body can digest well
6- when we have the right probiotics (I’ll cover probiotics in the future)
You do have influence when it comes to improving your metabolic rate.
And the benefits of this list have EXPONENTIAL PAYOFF! What an amazing body!
Linked References for you:
Lazzer, S., Vermorel, M., & O’Malley, G. (n.d.). Metabolic And Mechanical Cost Of Sedentary And Physical Activities In Obese Children And Adolescents. European Childhood Obesity Group. https://ebook.ecog-obesity.eu/chapter-energy-expenditure-physical-activity/metabolic-mechanical-cost-sedentary-physical-activities-obese-children-adolescents/.
Aristizabal JC, Freidenreich DJ, Volk BM, Kupchak BR, Saenz C, Maresh CM, Kraemer WJ, Volek JS. Effect of resistance training on resting metabolic rate and its estimation by a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry metabolic map. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jul;69(7):831-6. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.216. Epub 2014 Oct 8. PMID: 25293431.
Shimokata H, Kuzuya F. [Aging, basal metabolic rate, and nutrition]. Nihon Ronen Igakkai Zasshi. 1993 Jul;30(7):572-6. Japanese. doi: 10.3143/geriatrics.30.572. PMID: 8361073.
Argilés JM, Campos N, Lopez-Pedrosa JM, Rueda R, Rodriguez-Mañas L. Skeletal Muscle Regulates Metabolism via Interorgan Crosstalk: Roles in Health and Disease. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2016 Sep 1;17(9):789-96. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2016.04.019. Epub 2016 Jun 17. PMID: 27324808.
Spriet, Lawrence L. “New insights into the interaction of carbohydrate and fat metabolism during exercise.” Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) vol. 44 Suppl 1,Suppl 1 (2014): S87-96. doi:10.1007/s40279-014-0154-1
Publishing, H. H. (2020, March 30). The truth about metabolism. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-metabolism.
Jacqueline B. Marcus,Chapter 10 – Weight Management: Finding the Healthy Balance: Practical Applications for Nutrition, Food Science and Culinary Professionals, Editor(s): Jacqueline B. Marcus, Culinary Nutrition, Academic Press,2013, Pg 431-473
Aoun, Antoine et al. “The Influence of the Gut Microbiome on Obesity in Adults and the Role of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics for Weight Loss.” Preventive nutrition and food science vol. 25,2 (2020): 113-123. doi:10.3746/pnf.2020.25.2.113
Thornton, Simon N. “Increased Hydration Can Be Associated with Weight Loss.” Frontiers in nutrition vol. 3 18. 10 Jun. 2016, doi:10.3389/fnut.2016.00018
Richard AJ, White U, Elks CM, et al. Adipose Tissue: Physiology to Metabolic Dysfunction. [Updated 2020 Apr 4]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555602/
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Two people can have the same calorie deficit over the same period of time and have 2 completely different body fat loss outcomes
Why does chronic stress make losing weight more difficult? (n.d.). Retr 5/07/21 https://www.psychologytoday.com/why-does-chronic-stress-make-losing-weight-more-difficult
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Hall KD, et al. Ultra-processed diets cause excess calorie intake and weight gain: A one-month inpatient randomized controlled trial of ad libitum food intake. Cell Metabolism. May 16, 2019.
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“Weight gain or body fat redistribution are common side effects of many widely used drugs”.
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“Specific strains belonging to the genus Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium were the most used and those that showed the best results in reducing body weight.”