29 ways to improve fat loss
1) Low- And High-Carbohydrate Diets Produce Similar Weight Loss. Low-carbohydrate diets are effective for weight loss during the first six months of dieting, mainly because they prevent hunger more than mixed or high-carbohydrate diets. At 12 months, however, low-carbohydrate, high-carbohydrate, or mixed calorie-restricted diets result in similar weight loss. Also, low carbohydrate diets might promote heart disease because they are higher in saturated fats than the other diets.
An Australian study found no difference in weight loss between low- and high-carbohydrate, calorie-restricted diets after 12 months. The study was carefully controlled so that caloric intake was the same in both groups. The low-carbohydrate group showed larger increases in LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) but more favorable changes in triglycerides (blood fat) and HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). We need more research to assess the long-term health effects of weight loss diets. (American Journal Clinical Nutrition, 90.23-32,2009)
2) Try Nordic walking For Fat Loss
Nordic walking involves brisk walking using Nordic walking poles. The poles promote more forceful, longer strides than normal walking, which increases the caloric cost of walking by as much as 67 percent. Shorter poles increase the energy cost of walking by 3 percent when going uphill, but pole length has little effect on comfort during the activity. Nordic walking is a terrific fat burner and an enjoyable activity that you can do almost anywhere. (Journal Strength Conditioning Research, 23: 1187-1194, 2009)
3) The Mediterranean Diet Cuts Abdominal Fat
The Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables and unsaturated fatty acids. Common foods include pasta, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, nuts, and wine. People living in Mediterranean countries have the lowest heart disease rates and greatest longevity in the world. Diet may play an important role in their excellent health.
A large study of nearly 500,000 men and women age 25 to 70 years living in 10 European countries found a reduced risk of abdominal obesity in people who followed the Mediterranean diet. The relationship was strongest in men from northern European countries. People living in France, Norway, and Sweden were the thinnest, while those living in Greece and Spain were the fattest. Europeans were considerably leaner than Americans. The Mediterranean diet has positive effects on metabolic health and preventing obesity. (Journal Nutrition, 139: 1-10, 2009)
4) Two-A-Day Workouts Increase Fat Use
Exercising below 65 percent of maximum effort uses mainly fat as fuel. Above this intensity, carbohydrates become increasingly important, and they’re used almost exclusively for fuel at extreme exercise intensities.
Swiss researchers found that fat use during exercise is influenced by prior physical activity. Moderately-trained subjects took two maximal treadmill tests: one to determine maximal oxygen uptake and estimate fat use and a second to determine the effects of prior exercise on fat use. During the second test, subjects exercised on a treadmill for one hour at 57 percent of maximum effort. After a short break, they took the second treadmill test to exhaustion. Fat use was higher when the subjects took the test after the initial one-hour run. Two-a-day workouts will trigger more fat-burning during the second workout. (Metabolism Clinical and Experimental, 58. 1778-1786, 2009)
5) Fat Oxidation Rates Higher During Low-Intensity Exercise
Elegant studies by Dr. George Brooks from the University of California at Berkeley showed that fuel used during exercise changes abruptly from fats to carbohydrates at approximately 65 percent of maximum effort. A Brazilian. study on obese adolescents reinforced his findings. Maximum fat oxidation rate occurred at 42 percent of maximum effort (i.e., maximal oxygen consumption). However, fat use was the same during recovery following moderate-intensity (67 percent of max) or low-intensity exercise (42 percent of max).
Unfortunately, these studies do not tell us what we really want to know: which exercise intensity will cause the greatest fat loss following three to six months of training? The majority of long-term training studies show that high-intensity training results in greater long-term fat loss than moderate- or low-intensity training. (European Journal of Applied Physiology, in press, published online October 10, 2009)
6)Fat Burning versus Aerobic Zone On The Treadmill
Anyone who has worked out on electronic exercise machines such as a treadmill, elliptical trainer or stationary bike is familiar with fat-burning and aerobic training zones. Typically, people choose one or the other when setting up the machine for their workout. The fat-burning zone is low- or moderate-intensity exercise, while the aerobic zone is more intense and creates large increases in heart rate and ventilation (breathing).
Daniel Carey from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota determined the fat-burning zone by measuring gas exchange (respiratory exchange ratio—the ratio of carbon dioxide expired to oxygen consumed) during a maximal exercise test on a treadmill. He estimated that maximum fat use occurred at 54 percent of maximal oxygen consumption. He concluded that training between 60 and 80 percent of maximum heart rate was a good compromise for maximizing fat burning and building aerobic capacity. (Journal Strength Conditioning Research, 23: 2090-2095, 2009)
7) Green Tea Promotes Weight Loss And Weight Management
Green tea is a popular weight-loss supplement that also improves blood sugar regulation, influences fat cell turnover, and promotes weight loss and weight management. Green tea contains chemicals called catechins that increase metabolic rate and decrease appetite. Researchers from Maastricht University in Holland pooled the results of 11 studies using a statistical technique called meta-analysis, and found that catechins and green tea promoted weight loss and weight maintenance. Catechins worked best when combined with caffeine.
Other studies found that the catechins in green tea helped decrease total abdominal fat, subcutaneous abdominal fat (under the skin) and blood triglycerides (blood fats). Green tea is an effective fat fighter that complements the effects of exercise. (International Journal of Obesity, 33: 956-961, 2009)
8) Olive Oil Consumption Might Reduce The Risk Of Obesity
Olive oil is a central component of the Mediterranean diet, which is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Spanish researchers found that eating more olive oil might also reduce the risk of obesity. They examined body composition and nutrition in 613 people. They estimated olive oil consumption by measuring
concentrations of specific fatty acids in the blood.
People who consumed the least amount of olive oil in their diets were 2.3 times more likely to be obese than those who consumed the most olive oil. The researchers concluded that the type of fatty acids consumed in the diet influences the risk of obesity. (European Journal Clinical Nutrition, 63: 1371 1374, 2009)
9) Eating Cod Promotes Weight Loss
Cod is a popular whitefish with a mild flavor that is low in fat. It is high in vitamins A, E and D, and the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. A study from the University of Iceland in Reykjavik showed that cod promoted weight loss in young, overweight men who ate it five times per week (150 grams), compared to a control group that ate no seafood, but consumed the same number of calories.
The cod group lost 11 pounds and 2 inches from their waists, while the control group lost only 3 pounds and showed no changes in waist circumference. Cod eaters also showed decreases in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, triglycerides, and insulin. Increasing consumption of cod in the diet might promote weight loss. (Nutrition, Metabolism And Cardiovascular Diseases, 19: 690-696, 2009)
10) Increased Meal Frequency Does Not Promote Weight Loss
An urban weight-loss legend is that eating small meals throughout the day promotes weight loss, compared to eating several larger meals. The rationale was that frequent, small meals increased the caloric cost of digestion, suppressed appetite, and increased gut chemicals that prevent hunger.
A University of Ottawa study, led by Eric Doucet, showed that frequent, small meals didn’t promote weight loss. People consumed a reduced-calorie diet with meals served three or six times per day for eight weeks (calorie intake was the same). Both groups lost about 5 percent of bodyweight, but the frequency of meals had no effect on weight loss. Eating frequent small meals during the day has no effect on weight loss. (British Journal Nutrition, in press; published online November 30, 2009)
11) Scheduling Meals And Exercise For Maximum Fat Burning
Exercise, cutting calories, and losing fat are difficult, so you want the most from your weight-control program. A study from the University of Munich in Germany showed that meal timing, dietary composition, and exercise influenced post-exercise fat metabolism. George Brooks from the University of California in Berkeley showed that the body uses mainly fat as fuel at exercise intensities below 65 percent of maximum effort. Also, carbohydrate-rich meals slow fat release from fat cells and decrease subsequent fat burning.
Obese people exercised for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity and then consumed a meal rich in either proteins or carbohydrates. The high-carb meal suppressed fat release and use after exercise, while the high-protein meal increased fat burning. Consuming a carbohydrate-rich meal two hours before exercise promoted fat burning just like the post-exercise high-protein meal. Maximize fat burning by consuming a high-protein, low-carbohydrate meal after exercise or a high-carbohydrate meal two hours before exercise. If you are not concerned about weight loss, consume high-carbohydrate meals after endurance exercise to restore muscle and liver glycogen and promote tissue repair. (Hormone and Metabolic Research, in press, published online January 21, 2010)
12) Poor Sleep Habits Increase Abdominal Fat
Sleep problems such as obstructive sleep apnea (airway obstruction during sleep, leading to disrupted sleep), insomnia, and inadequate sleep due to excessive work or partying promote obesity. Kristen Hairston from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina and co-workers, in a five-year study, found that poor sleep habits in African-American and Hispanic young adults promoted gains in abdominal fat. Sleep duration was categorized as less than five hours, six to seven hours, or eight hours or more. In adults less than 40 years old, abdominal fat, organ fat (visceral fat), and body mass index (proportion of weight to height) increased in people getting too little or too much sleep (six to seven hours per night was best). Sleep duration was not related to changes in body fat in people over 40. (Sleep, 33.299-295,2010)
13) Fat Use Higher During Running Than Cycling
Carbohydrate is the principle fuel for exercise above 65 percent of maximum effort. However, metabolic rate increases 12 to 25 times above rest during exercise, so fat use increases tremendously. South African scientists showed that fat use was greater during running than cycling. They measured fat use indirectly during prolonged cycling and running at 60,65,70,75, and 80 percent of maximum effort. Cycling places a more concentrated load on the leg and thigh muscles, which would increase the use of carbohydrates and decrease the use of fats. (International journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 20.44-55, 2010)
14) Why Nuts Promote Weight Loss
Eating nuts to lose weight doesn’t make any sense. They are calorie dense and high in fat. Only one ounce of mixed nuts contains 174 calories and 15.9 grams of fat. Why do nutritionists recommend nuts as part of a healthy diet? Richard Mattes and Mark Dreher from Purdue University, in a review of literature, concluded that nuts contain many healthy nutrients and antioxidants that prevent degenerative diseases such as coronary artery disease and cancer. Large population studies found a link between high nut consumption and reduced body fat. Nuts prevent hunger and are poorly absorbed in the gut. They also increase the energy cost of digestion and improve dietary compliance during weight loss. Nuts are valuable for weight loss, as long as you don’t eat too many of them. (Asia Pacific Journal Clinical Nutrition, 19:137-141,2010)
15) Altitude Exposure Promotes Weight Loss
People usually lose weight when they vacation at high altitudes. Most studies have shown weight losses of nearly 0.2 pounds per day at altitudes above 6,000 feet. Most of the weight loss is due to dehydration, but some is due to increased energy expenditure, decreased food intake, and increased resting metabolic rate. Water loss increases at altitude because of an increased breathing rate (expired air contains water vapor).
People eat less at altitude, at least initially, because of acute mountain sickness. Vacationing visitors at altitude usually do more physical activities than normal, such as skiing, hiking, or fishing. High altitude also impairs digestion, so more energy is lost in the feces.
A German study found that weight loss at altitude also reduced diastolic blood pressure (lower blood pressure number). If you need to lose 5-10 pounds in a hurry, consider a backpacking trip to the Rockies. (Medical Hypotheses, 74: 901-907,2010, Obesity, 18.67S-681,2010)
16) Thermogenic Supplements Enhance Weight Loss
Thermogenic supplements, such as caffeine, capsaicin, and green tea, increase metabolic rate and promote fat use. A review of literature by scientists from Maastricht University in the Netherlands concluded that these supplements increase caloric expenditure by 4 to 5 percent and fat use by 10 to 16 percent. They are not magic bullets that trigger massive weight loss, but will promote weight control over time. The supplements work better in some people than others. They work by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight system), which helps control hunger, stimulates energy expenditure, and promotes fat breakdown. Thermogenic supplements maybe a valuable tool in the fight against obesity. (International Journal of Obesity, 34: 659669, 2010)
17) Adequate Protein Intake Preserves Muscle Mass During Weight Loss
Weight loss is extremely difficult because reduced caloric intake increases hunger sensations and slows metabolic rate. A low-calorie, mixed diet triggers protein mobilization for fuel, which results in muscle-wasting. A review of literature by Suzanne Devkota. and Donald Layman from the University of Chicago concluded that substituting protein for fat and carbohydrate in the diet reduces insulin levels and suppresses hunger and food cravings. Protein, particularly sources high in the amino acid leucine, triggers protein synthesis and helps maintain muscle mass during periods of caloric restriction. People trying to lose weight should consume protein, particularly during breakfast and lunch. This will help curb appetite and maintain muscle mass. (Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 13: 403-407, 2010)
18) Weight Loss Decreases Biologically Active Testosterone
Gains in muscle mass and strength depend on adequate blood levels of testosterone. Studies by Shalender Bhasin (now at Boston University) and colleagues such as Tom Storer showed that muscle mass increased in direct proportion to testosterone levels. A significant portion of testosterone is bound to serum hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and is unavailable for anabolic activities, such as synthesizing muscle protein. SHBG increases with age, which partially explains why aging men gradually lose muscle mass, even though their total testosterone levels remain within the normal range. A review of literature conducted by scientists from the Laval University Medical Research Center in Quebec, Canada concluded that SHBG increases during weight loss, particularly in obese people. The increases are greater in women than men. One study found that high-protein diets prevent increases in SHBG better than high-carbohydrate diets. However, during weight loss, changes in SHBG are independent of dietary composition. The study showed that these hormone changes are most significant during pronounced weight loss. Serious gym addicts should attempt to lose fat gradually so they can maintain higher levels of biologically active free testosterone and preserve muscle mass. (Nutritional Reviews,
19) Brown Fat Might Be A Key To Weight Control
The human body contains small amounts of a calorie-burning tissue called brown fat (brown adipose tissue, BAT) that converts food energy directly into heat. White fat does the opposite: it stores energy. Increasing brown fat production might help people lose weight and control body fat. BAT promotes non-shivering thermogenesis, which generates heat and helps animals and humans adapt to the cold. It is turned on by the sympathetic nervous system, which is the body’s fight-or-flight system for coping with stress and emergencies. BAT prevents weight gain by increasing metabolic rate following overeating. While BAT is important for temperature regulation in human infants, it was not considered a significant source of heat generation in human adults. Scientists developed a scanner called positron emission tomography (PET) to detect tumor growth. Patients are given radioactive glucose (sugar) that is taken up in metabolically active tissue such as cancer cells. By accident, scientists discovered significant amounts of metabolically active brown fat in adult humans during PET scans. Most human BAT is found in the neck and above the collarbones, with some around the spine and aorta (large artery leaving the heart). Individual differences in BAT may play an important role in human obesity. Several recent studies showed that activating the genes that control BAT production might help treat obesity.(WebMD, August 21, 2008)
20) Low Glycemic Index Diet Promotes Weight Loss
Glycemic index is a measure of how fast a food increases blood sugar. High glycemic index foods include simple sugars and white bread that enter the bloodstream quickly, while low glycemic index foods include whole grains that are digested slowly and trigger more modest increases in blood sugar. One theory is that rapid increases in blood sugar trigger greater insulin release, which promotes fat storage. British researchers found that middle-aged adults lost more weight following a low glycemic diet than a high glycemic diet during a 12-week study. Both groups reduced caloric intake by 300 calories below normal. The average blood sugar levels was lower in the low glycemic index group, but there were no differences between groups in heart disease risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, or waist circumference. Few studies have found that the glycemic index of the diet influences weight control or heart disease risk factors in healthy people. (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 62: 145-149, 2008)
21) Insulin Promotes Fat Storage
High insulin levels from drinking high-sugar soft drinks or eating meals high in simple sugars promotes obesity. Insulin is an important hormone for carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. Blood glucose (sugar) increases rapidly after a meal. In response, the pancreas releases insulin, which helps move the glucose out of the blood and into the cells. Glucose is an important fuel for muscles and the central nervous system (brain, spine and nerves). Excess glucose is stored for later use as fat in white adipose tissue (fat cells) through a process regulated by insulin. Japanese scientists, in a study using fat cells cultured in the laboratory, discovered that insulin promotes fat storage by preventing fat breakdown. It does this by blocking the action of adrenaline and hormone-sensitive lipase. The study showed why high-sugar meals and soft drinks promote obesity. High-sugar soft drinks cause rapid increases in blood sugar and insulin release, which prevents fat breakdown and promotes fat storage. This study showed why high levels of insulin levels promote obesity. (Kobe Journal Medical Sciences, 53:99-106,2007)
22) Green Tea Decreases Abdominal Fat
Green tea is a popular weight-loss supplement that also improves blood sugar regulation and influences fat cell turnover. While it is not a magic bullet that instantly improves metabolic health, it helps. Kevin Maki from the Provident Clinical Research, in Bloomington, Indiana showed decreases in total abdominal fat, subcutaneous abdominal fat (under the skin), and blood triglycerides (blood fats) in people consuming a green tea beverage containing 625 mg of catechins and 39 mg of caffeine for 12 weeks, compared to a placebo (green tea without catechins or caffeine). The people also did 180 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise.
Caffeine and catechins— particularly epigallocatechin-3-gallate— speed metabolism and fight fat. Other studies found that green tea extract increased the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in fat cells, which might have negative effects in guys who are trying to get huge and ultra-ripped. Green tea is an effective fat fighter that complements the effects of exercise. However, some people should use it with caution. (Journal of Nutrition, 139: 264-270, 2009, Journal of Nutrition, 138:2156-2163,2008)
23) Whey Protein Supplement Speeds Fat Loss
Drinking a whey protein shake 20 minutes before a meal will help you lose fat and preserve muscle mass. A 12-week study on weight loss from the Minnesota Applied Research Center in Minneapolis found that a pre-meal protein supplement helped decrease appetite during lunch or dinner. Consuming a whey protein beverage (Prolibra) 20 minutes before breakfast and dinner caused greater fat loss than a placebo (fake Prolibra; 8 pounds versus 3.5 pounds) and helped maintain muscle mass. Substituting proteins for carbohydrates is a good strategy for weight loss. The amino acids from whey protein circulate in the blood, and the liver converts them to blood sugar. They work like tiny blood sugar timed-release capsules to maintain blood sugar levels, which decrease appetite. Health experts are scrambling to find techniques to help people eat less and lose weight. Drinking a whey protein shake before meals might help. (Nutrition & Metabolism, published online March 27,2008)
24) Virus Linked To Obesity
Can a virus make you fat? The genetics revolution promises to reveal the answer to medical questions that have baffled humans for centuries. Genes act as controllers for all cell functions, such as storing and using energy, repairing damage, and making new proteins. Interfering with them disturbs basic body processes such as metabolism and immunity. Genes fight off challenges every day from such diverse sources as ultraviolet light from the sun, free radicals produced normally during metabolism, and environmental pollutants. Add viruses to that list. Several studies have linked viral infections to coronary artery disease. Now, scientists have found that viral infections may be linked to obesity. Animals infected with the adenovirus-36, which comes from the same family of viruses that cause colds, diarrhea and pinkeye, had more body fat than animals not infected. In humans, about 20-30 percent of obese people are infected with the virus, compared to only 5 percent of lean people. If viruses really contribute to obesity, scientists may be able to make a vaccine to combat them. (BBC News, January 26, 2009)
25) Does Drinking More Water Promote Fat Loss?
Recent nutritional guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture advise people to drink water when they are thirsty. Research does not support previous recommendations that people should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. French researchers speculated that increasing cell water levels promotes fat loss. Increased water intake inhibits angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which helps control blood pressure and thirst. In animal studies, inhibiting ACE led to increased water intake and fat loss. Drugs called ACE-inhibitors combined with increased fluid intake might contribute to weight loss. (International journal of Obesity, 33: 385, 2009)
26) Moderate Protein Diet Helps Sustain Weight Loss
Ninety percent of people gain back the weight they lost within a year. Two-thirds of Americans are obese or overweight, so many of us are chronic yo-yo dieters, following an endless cycle of weight loss and weight gain. These people would be better off staying overweight than constantly increasing and decreasing weight. Donald Layman and colleagues from the University of Illinois found that people could sustain weight loss and promote long-term positive changes in body composition and blood fats by increasing daily protein intake to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram body-weight (the RDA for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram bodyweight). After 12 months, a group following a diet with moderately-increased protein content showed more fat loss, lower blood triglycerides (fat) and higher HDL (good cholesterol), than a group eating less protein and more carbohydrates. Increased dietary protein promotes longterm weight maintenance and improved body composition. (journal Nutrition, 139: 514-521,2009)
27) Weight Training Promotes Abdominal Fat Loss
Most health-related organizations, such as the American Heart Association, American College of Sports Medicine, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recommend aerobic exercise for promoting metabolic health and weight control. Increasing evidence shows that weight training is an essential part of an exercise program. Weight training builds strength, but it also improves metabolic health and promotes fat loss. East Carolina University researchers, led by Robert Hickner, showed that a weight-training workout cause marked increases in energy expenditure and fat use in lean and obese men. Weight training was particularly effective for mobilizing fat in the abdominal region. However, abdominal fat mobilization was greater in lean than obese people. Weight training increases energy expenditure and fat loss in lean and obese men, but a variety of approaches is best for promoting weight control. (Journal of Applied Physiology, in press, published online March 5, 2009)
28) Diet Plus Exercise Best For Long-Term Weight Loss
Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Weight-loss studies don’t offer much hope for a long-term solution to the obesity epidemic. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health pooled the results of 18 weight-loss studies using a statistical technique called meta-analysis. They compared the effect of exercise plus diet versus diet alone on weight loss and body mass index (BMI, a measure of the proportion of weight to height). People lose about 2.5 pounds more by combining diet and exercise, compared to dieting alone, in studies lasting as long as two years. Unfortunately, the average weight loss in these studies was less than 15 pounds— and most people regain some of the weight regardless of which weight-loss program they follow. Just like in real life, the dropout rates in these studies were as high as 65 percent. There is hope! In one study, people sustained a 5.6 percent decrease in BMI for six years.’Successful losers’ should cut calories, exercise consistently and receive regular encouragement from professionals or support groups to maintain weight loss. (Obesity Reviews, 10: 313-323, 2009)
29) Exercise Does Not Increase 24-Hour Fat Burning
Exercise increases the capacity of muscle to use fat. A review of literature by Edward Melanson and co-workers from the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine concluded that exercise does not increase 24-hour fat use. The popular belief that exercise increases fat oxidation after exercise is a myth. Exercise promotes weight maintenance by creating a negative caloric balance and increasing muscle mass, which increases metabolic rate. The body uses fat stores when energy expenditure exceeds energy intake and fat intake is less than fat oxidation. Researchers concluded that moderate-intensity exercise would not burn more fat unless people consumed fewer calories and less fat. While exercise is not a cure-all for fat loss, it has many positive effects on metabolic, musculoskeletal, and cardiorespiratory health. (Exercise Science Sports Reviews, 37.93-101,2009)