It’s that time of year again. It’s freezin’ outside in upstate NY, the snow is falling, and a good year ends while another year, full of possibilities, begins.
It is also the time of year where most of us scramble to undo all the holiday damage we did to our waistlines or to burn excess fat once and for all.
Today I am going to reveal a few little known fat loss secrets that will help catapult you towards achieving your fat loss goals.
Fat Loss Secret #1: You do not have to do endless hours of cardio to lose fat.
The jury is most definitely in. Research shows that variable intensity cardio intervals burns more fat than long, slow cardio.
In other words, if you currently spend your time on the treadmill at the gym walking at 3.0 mph and gabbing with your friend on the next treadmill over and you are unhappy with your fat loss results it is because you are NOT burning fat. You are really just wasting your time.
Now don’t get me wrong. Long, slow cardio is good for your various aspects of your health and is a necessary component if you happen to be training for a distance event such as a marathon or 5K. So if you are doing long, slow cardio with health or endurance in mind, or you just flat out love doing it, by all means, have at it.
But if your goal is to lose fat than you have to give it up. It is just not doing you any good.
Research shows that women who spend hours in the gym engaged in long, slow cardio actually gain weight! The likely culprit is that they eat more as a result of the long, slow cardio. Not only does all that work make you hungry but you can also feel that, after doing such a great workout, you are entitled to eat more or eat unhealthy foods as a reward.
Here is the good news. Research also shows that when you switch from doing long, slow cardio to high intensity cardio intervals you can cut your workouts in half. All you need is about 20 minutes 3 times per week.
The reason being not only will you burn more calories during high intensity cardio intervals but you will be burning more calories for 24-48 hours after you stop! And because you only need to engage in this type of training 3x/week for about 20 minutes, it is simply the more efficient way to burn fat.
Long, slow cardio simply does not provide an afterburn to promote fat loss post exercise as cardio intervals do.
Fat Loss Secret #2: Crunches will NOT give you a flat stomach, no matter how many you do.
You simply have to let them go.
Do you spend 20 minutes at the end of each workout doing endless crunches hoping when you stand up you will have flat abs?
We need to stop wasting time doing the wrong things, such as crunches and long, slow cardio and more time on the right things that will get you fat loss results.
Spending a significant amount of time training your abdominals using crunches is a waste of time. Crunches will not get rid of your belly flab nor significantly increase the strength in your abdominals.
Recent studies report that not only are crunches ineffective for revealing flat abs or significantly increasing core strength but the spinal flexion that occurs during the movement can actually do more damage to your back than good for your abs.
Total body, core stabilization exercises are best for increasing strength in your abs.
Fat Loss Secret #3: Fruit does NOT make you fat.
No carb, low carb. What’s a carb? Back in the days of the Atkin’s Diet (booooo) all starchy foods, along with most fruits and vegetables were considered taboo because they were a carbohydrate. Today we are relying on scientific research to know better.
In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 85, No. 6, 1465-1477, June 2007, researchers studied the dietary energy density in the treatment of obesity. It was a year-long trial comparing 2 weight-loss diets, a reduced fat group and a reduced fat + fruits and vegetables group.
Both the reduced fat group and the reduced fat + fruits and vegetables group lost a significant amount of weight during the course of the study. However, the people in the reduced fat + fruits and vegetables group reported less feelings of hunger as compared to the reduced fat group due to the low energy density of the fruits and vegetables.
We can conclude from these findings that not only does fruit not make you fat but consuming it regularly while trying to lose weight is a great way to control hunger.
Fat Loss Secret #4: Enlisting social support greatly increases your risk of fat loss success.
Research shows that your chances of achieving your fat loss goals greatly increases when you have people around you who understand what you are doing, why you are doing it, and support you in any way then can.
Enlist the help of your spouse, your kids, parents, and friends and fill them in on what you would like to achieve. Provide them with ways that they can help you and seek them out if you need a little tough love or even a workout buddy.
Weight loss success rates are also higher in those who have a mentor or a coach, whether in person or virtual, guiding them along their weight loss journey. A Certified Personal Trainer or Strength Coach can provide you will all the necessary tools you need to be successful while transforming your body as well as hold you accountable for your actions and keep you motivated.
You can also enlist the support of others who have the same goals as you. You can find thousands of people who are trying to lose weight online in weight loss forums. Forums are communities of people who all have common goals, likes, interests, etc and go there to learn, discuss, share best practices, and get support from others.
Often, these weight loss forums are led by either people who have been down the same road you are currently embarking on or by a Fitness Professional.
Check out the discussion forums and meet new, supportive friends in the UHW Inner Circle.
Women specifically have the most success with meeting their fat loss goals when they have social support. Give it a shot, you might even make some lasting relationships!
Fat Loss Secret # 5: Fat burning pills and late night infomercial gadgets and equipment will not lead to weight loss.
Turn off the TV.
Late night gadgets and gimmicks you see on TV infomercials will not help you lose fat. The Ab belt will not melt fat off your stomach. The ab glide will not chisel your abs. The ab lounge will not melt away the pounds. They simply don’t work and we need to stop wasting our money hoping for a miracle.
Fat burning pills or other “weight loss supplements”, such as acai berry, do not work for fat loss. Fat burning pills just make you wired and after prolonged usage they simply burn out your adrenal system. Acai berry is a truly magical superfood and a powerful antioxidant but will not make you lose weight.
Please stop wasting your money.
Fat Loss Secret #6: High fructose corn syrup is making you fat.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a super sweet substance manufactured from corn and for the last few years has been replacing sugar in most processed foods. It is just as sweet as sugar, costs less than sugar, and also acts as a preservative to help extend the shelf lives in processed food.
There have been studies published linking HFCS to obesity, fatty liver disease, and type II diabetes.
Unfortunately, HFCS is being sneaked into many foods, those that are intuitively not good for us and those that are touted as “health foods”.
Foods that contain HFCS include: soda (#1), fruit juices, yogurt, salad dressing, ketchup, mustard, cereals, ice cream, cakes, cookies, candies, crackers, canned food, fast food, bread, and pasta sauce.
If you want to stay away from HFCS, your best food choices are: fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and 100% whole grain.
In general, if a human produced it, and it isn’t 100% organic, don’t eat it.
Fat Loss Secret #7: Eating fat will NOT make you fat – except……
Before the food industrialization, no one really suspected fat of being detrimental to our health or a cause of an expanding waistline.
We know unsaturated fat is actually beneficial to our health.
Saturated fat, however, got the reputation of being the bad guy. Here’s how:
One theory why this happened is that it is based on a very poorly conducted research study from the 1950’s that suggested saturated fats might have negative health effects. The study was not conclusive, research methods flawed, and the theory that saturated fats were bad for you should have remained just that – a theory to be tested further.
Coincidentally, the vegetable oil industry had recently started adding something called hydrogenated fat to their products to allow for greater stabilization during transporting.
These hydrogenated fats solidified so they also started being used as a cheap replacement for butter and animal fat (lard), which are both naturally high in saturated fat. This made the vegetable oil industry a lot of money.
It was just around that time that the incidence of heart disease and cancer started to skyrocket. Anyone doing research to prove this was happening was “quieted” by the oil manufacturers and they further pointed the finger to saturated fats as the culprit.
Just another example of how greedy big business corporations (not unlike, the oil and pharmaceutical industries) put their wealth before our health and well being.
The good news is recent research continues to show that the three forms of saturated fat are either beneficial or neutral when it comes to effecting your health. Powerful companies can still prevail over good research so mainstream has not quite accepted it yet.
Soon. We are close.
Even more good news is that the actual “bad” fat has been recently named and he goes by the name of trans fat, aka: hydrogenated oils. A-ha! Now it is all coming together!
The oil companies wanted to make more money so they made sure people thought it was saturated fat, not the hydrogenated oils they were adding to thousands of products, that was causing the recent increase in heart disease and cancer.
So, all trans fat must be bad for you? Yes, about 99.9999999% of the time.
Hydrogenated oils are bad for you, in the grand scheme of things, because they are man made. Trans fats can be found in foods such as butter and margarine, packaged and canned foods, frozen foods, baked goods, chips, crackers, cereal, and ALL FRIED FOODS!
But there is one type of trans fat that is naturally occurring and is extremely healthy for you. It is called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and is found naturally in the fat on the meat and in the dairy from wild game animals and grass fed/ organically raised animals such as cattle, bison, deer, goats, and sheep.
CLA has been shown to help promote abdominal fat loss and lean muscle tissue growth.
Again, if you want to be sure to avoid all foods with hydrogenated oils in them then stick to foods untouched by humans: fruits and vegetables, grass fed protein, healthy fats, 100% whole grains.
I hope we can now confidently conclude that it is not the naturally occurring fat in food that we have to be cautious of. Rather it is the addition of man made ingredients, such as hydrogenated oils, that the food industry adds to our food that continue to make us sick, tired, and fat.
So, if we can cut out foods that contain HFCS and trans fats, eat a ton more fruits & vegetables, spend a little less time on exercise that wastes our time (long, slow cardio and crunches) and a little more time doing metabolic resistance training and cardio intervals, and enlist a trainer, friends and family to help support you in your fat loss goals you will have the absolute BEST chance of achieving your fat loss goals.
Susan Campbell, MS, CSCS
Author, Ultimate Home Workouts