Everyone wants to drop a bit of fat right? Get into that new pair of jeans or look good in swimwear for the summer months. There is an absolute ton of useless, or at least close to useless, information on the World Wide Web, so how do you know which diet to follow? These tips are much more forgiving than most diets, only one of the following 5 tips could really be classed as a 'diet'. Due to this, the compliance rate is much higher than the usual "starve yourself and get thin" type of diets that we have become so accustomed to seeing. I have used these tips myself, and have seen notable changes. There are also a lot of case studies in the book it is drawn from, Tim Ferris' 'The 4-Hour Body' showing people losing a lot of weight just from small changes in their diet.
1. The Slow-Carb Diet
We will get the most extreme lifestyle change out of the way first, so if this seems too much for you please don't be discouraged and stop reading, I promise that it only gets better. The Slow Carb Diet was popularised by Tim Ferris in his brilliant book The 4 Hour Body. It focuses around the exclusion of 'fast' carb foods that have a high glycemic index. This means that any white carbohydrates are out of the picture: Bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, cereal and tortillas should be eliminated as these promote fat storage. Whilst this may seem restrictive, once you get a few meals under your belt it becomes pretty easy. All you need to do is get your carbohydrates and energy from other sources, stick to legumes, vegetables, lean meat (such as beef and chicken), eggs, and fish.
It is also recommended that you stay away from fruit, as the fructose contained within it has a host of un(der)reported health disadvantages including increased cholesterol, massively increased iron, and increased fat storage.
The changes here may seem drastic, but after a week or so you will wonder what you were ever worrying about. However, one thing to note is that you should significantly increase portion size. Since you aren't consuming all the high calorie white carbohydrates that have been seen for so long as 'staples', you must up the amounts of vegetables and legumes which now form the base of your meals.
Now, onto the next tip, I really do promise it gets easier!
2. Take A Day Off
Your diet that is, don't start ringing in sick for work and blaming me please! Following on from the Slow-Carb Diet, this is the best part of it: You get to take a day off! Once every week, have a cheat day and eat whatever the hell you want! This is helpful both psychologically and physiologically.
Psychologically it means you don't have to eliminate all those beautiful goodies you love forever. This is, without a doubt in my mind, why the compliance and success rate of this diet is higher than most others. Rather than forcing yourself to adhere to a strict low calorie diet for an indefinite amount of time, now you only have to fight off your cravings for 6 days and then you can indulge yourself until you're sick if you so desire. I'm not exaggerating here, you can literally eat however much of whatever food you like.
Physiologically it is a lot simpler, it stops your base metabolic rate from dropping and as such keeps the fat loss benefits of the rest of the diet from reducing over time. The spike in caloric input also increases certain hormones than increase fat loss throughout the rest of the week.
There are a few small rules to your cheat day to limit the immediate damage it causes.
- Stick to a high protein breakfast
- Try a glass of grapefruit juice in the morning to level out your glucose spikes from the high carbohydrate meals that are forthcoming.
- Do some low intensity exercises before each large meal and about 90 minutes after it. Tim Ferris recommends air squats, wall presses and chest pulls of about 30 repetitions each. In simple terms, this opens up muscles, allowing calories to flow into muscles rather than get stored as fat.
Needless to say, this is the one tip in this article that will not aid fat loss when used alone!
3. Eat Early
This is a very simple change that I implemented first, and I noticed fairly large aesthetic and health changes with this alone considering it is such a small change. All you need to do is consume a light, high protein meal within 30 minutes of waking up. Ideally you should aim for around 30g of protein in the meal. Studies have shown that resting metabolism increases about 20% if your first calories consist of 30 percent protein or more.
This protein can be obtained through a number of foods, such as eggs, spinach, beans, legumes, organic bacon. For reference, my personal favourite is scrambled eggs with beans and spinach.
If you're serious about losing those few extra pounds of fat, this really shouldn't be a large change to make. Just dump the bread and cereal in the bin and make some eggs!
4. Eat Fermented
There are two primary strains of bacteria that affect fat absorption in the human body, Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. Studies have shown significant correlation between the presence of Bacteroidetes and fat loss. For example, obese people generally have more Firmicutes than Bacteroidetes in their stomachs, as they lose weight this ratio swings over until they have more Bacteroidetes. This is an obvious cause and effect relationship between the presence of Bacteroidetes and the occurrence of fat loss.
What do you know! It turns out fermented foods contain a boatload of Bacteroidetes. All you need to do is eat some fermented foods (before breakfast ideally), boost your body's level of Bacteroidetes, and increase fat loss. It really is that simple. Fermented foods include sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, and unsweeted plain yoghurt. If you don't like the foods it's not a problem, just pinch your nose and down it.
5. Go Cold
For those of you who really don't want to change their eating habits there is still an option. This is the only tip on my list that doesn't include any dietary changes whatsoever. This is a very complicated subject, but in simple terms there is a type of fat called BAT (referred to as 'fat-burning fat') that is stimulated by cold temperatures, this aids in fat loss. There are a few easy steps to take to utilise this tip:
- Place an ice pack on your lower neck and upper back for 30 minutes, preferably in the evening when insulin sensitivity is at its lowest
- Drink 500 millilitres of ice water when you get up in the morning, this increases resting metabolism.
- Take 5 to 10 minute cold showers when you wake up and/or before you go to bed. Focus the water on lower neck and upper back regions.
So there you have it, 5 simple and relatively easy ways to aid you in losing weight and, primarily, fat. All of these (with the exclusion of your binge day) can be used in isolation and produce visible results that are quite exceptional considering the simplicity of the changes. Three out of five of these changes are incredibly small lifestyle changes that really won't affect your day to day life much at all. The Slow-Carb Diet is a bit more restrictive, but it's nothing compared to most diets out there. There is no calorie counting or adding up of scores either which is a massive bonus. Of course, these tips are best used in conjunction with a generally healthy life and holistic exercises such as the Russian kettlebell swing, but they are definitely effective in isolation as well! There are dozens of case studies in Tim Ferris' book one people ranging from semi-professional athletes to obese middle aged people losing weight with these tips. I urge you to start right away on at least one of these, once you realise how small a lifestyle change it really is you will feel like doing more!
Tim Ferris - The 4-Hour Body
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