A new year is upon us, bringing weight loss to the forefront of eager resolution lists. If you are one of the many waging a war on fat, it behooves you to know your enemy in order to be victorious.
Conventional doctors, the government, and our society have indoctrinated us with the belief that the calories in, calories out weight loss paradigm is a matter of fact, but in fact, it's not.
In reality, it‘s an incomplete theory which has been repeatedly debunked, so what gives and what's the truth about fat loss?
Before we dive into the answer, let's begin by understanding the origin of obesity research...
The birth of calorie counting
The calories in, calories out (CICO) theory originated in the 1930's with a physician and researcher named Doctor Louis Newburgh, who claimed obesity is caused simply by overeating.
At no fault to Dr. Newburgh, 90 years later, despite his theory never having been verified in experimental tests, we have adopted the theory as truth because it seems to make sense, right? I, too, remember spending many of my younger days counting calories and trying to "burn off" the junk food I ate the day before.
However, if the theory were true, why would we now be faced with an obesity epidemic?
The brave researchers that risked their reputations asking this very question have consistently disproven the theory. In fact, many dieters find the opposite is true. Some restrict their calorie intake, increase their exercise to create a greater caloric deficit, yet they continue to gain fat. While others may lose some fat initially by controlling caloric intake but ultimately plateau and are unable to keep it off.
Which begs the question, why?
The answer is simple yet complex, so let's start by understanding the basics...
What's in a calorie?
Dr. Newburgh and his bandwagon of western conventional doctors and scientists believe a calorie is a calorie is a calorie and as long as you "burn" more calories than you consume, you’re bound to lose weight. However, we know this to be untrue. All calories are not the same and they certainly do not affect your body in the same way, partly due to the numerous factors that impact your hormones:
the calorie's nutritional profile
the thermic effect of the calorie
the state of the body
the body's needs
With this in mind, consider the following question…
Does consuming 100 calories from a candy bar have the same impact on your body as consuming 100 calories from an apple?
From a conventional wisdom standpoint, the answer is yes.
It doesn't make a difference where the calories come from, all calories are created equal, 100 calories is a 100 calories.
From a holistic standpoint, the answer is an emphatic NO!
On one hand, the candy bar is lifeless, void of vitality, void of nutrients, full of toxic synthetic, artificial, man-made and/or refined ingredients and therefore stimulates a negative reaction from our hormones and our bodies.
On the other hand, the apple is full of life, vitality, filled with living organisms, and a powerful synergistic micronutrient profile that floods our cells with essential nutrition which stimulates a health-promoting reaction from our hormones and our bodies.
The "calories in, calories out" paradigm does not account for the most influential factor of fat loss: the quality of the calorie
If calorie counting isn't the answer, what is?
I'm glad you asked. Hang tight, we’re almost there.
To fully understand the answer, we must first understand the physiological purpose of fat...
What is fat and what is its roll?
(I couldn’t help myself)
Aside from being the pesky flab that gets us into trouble with our doctor and swimsuit season, it turns out fat has many life-saving and life-threatening properties (depending on how much you have).
Fat cells were once believed to serve simply as passive storage sites for excess energy but have been recently proven to do significantly more!
Fat cells are now considered a living breathing entity inside our bodies that play an enormous role in hormonal balance so much so that fat has been adopted as part of the endocrine system (the system of glands that regulate all of your body's processes via hormones).
Why does this matter?
This, my friends, brings us to the first part of how to achieve fat loss:
You cannot achieve true health without achieving hormonal balance
Allow me to explain...
Why we get fat
Weight gain is bound to happen when your hormones aren't in balance. Western conventional diets and lifestyles lead to imbalanced hormones due to poor nutrition and adrenal gland exhaustion. While there are other factors that contribute to fat accumulation, this is the main reason for most Americans. In our fast-paced stress-filled lives, we tend to hold our breath and white knuckle our way through the day. We grab something easy to eat while we're on the run, which is usually fast food or processed food filled with addictive hormone-disrupting chemicals, and then we trade in our precious sleep time in order to accomplish more. These daily decisions ultimately bioaccumulate in our bodies and wreak havoc on our hormones and create insulin resistance.
Since fat has been identified as an endocrine organ, we know that hormonal balance is an essential part of weight control. We also know that hormones control nearly every single one of your body's processes, so it's important to keep them aligned.
It's also important to understand that hormones cross-communicate, so if you have an imbalance in one hormone you will likely have an imbalance across the board.
How to lose fat
As outlined above, it's imperative to achieve hormonal balance in order to lose fat. This means healing your digestive system, addressing your diet, adrenal fatigue, etc.
Here are 10 ways you can restore balance of your hormones to enable fat loss:
Start with your fork: eat the rainbow. The control system of your hormones is your gut, so it's imperative to create a healthy GI environment to nurture your entire body. Consume a variety of vegetables per day and make vegetables the main food you eat (vegetables are full of fiber, prebiotics, probiotics, postbiotics and essential nutrients), then you can sprinkle in fruit, nuts, and unrefined grains for snacks and desserts and by doing this you'll flood your cells with the fuel they need to nurture your hormones. Once your cells are satisfied, your satiety hormone, leptin, will send a signal to your brain that your body is content and you won't need to keep grazing for fulfillment like you would if you were eating processed foods void of nutrition. Eating plant foods high in fiber will also help control your insulin levels, which is a big part of fat control (stay tuned, I will do a separate blog post on this later).
Eliminate processed foods. Work towards eliminating addictive processed foods that have been denatured to the point that it is no longer food (i.e. chips, candy, soda, ice cream). Try to replace as many of these foods as possible with a healthier food item, preferably a whole plant food (try a vegetable). If you can do this, you'll work towards alkalizing your body which will help your body restore your hormones, a healthy pH balance, and ultimately prevent disease. If you find it too difficult to replace your favorite foods, make a deal with yourself to eat the healthier food item first, and this will help rewire your brain to create new habits.
Breathe. This surprises just about everyone, but actually, almost everything we eat is dispersed via our lungs as CO2. While I delve deeper into the benefits of breathing in part 2 of our fat loss series, what you need to know for now is that breath work and relaxation techniques have been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve which is one of the most effective ways to achieve healthy fat loss. Breathing also reduces your stress hormone, cortisol, and puts your body in a state of rest and digest which helps regulate hormone secretion and enables fat loss.
Get enough sleep. Yep, you'll always hear about the importance of sleep. Your brain health, metabolism, hormonal regulation, and numerous other processes follow a circadian rhythm. This is when your body repairs and cleanses itself. Adequate sleep is especially imperative for balancing your hormones the following day. If you struggle sleeping at night, spend more time outside exposing yourself to nature to realign your biological clock.
Get enough sunshine. If you can't get sunlight, take vitamin D3. Vitamin D is not only a vitamin it's also a pro-hormone and plays a huge rule in almost every bodily process. While 10-20 minutes of exposing your skin to sunlight can help you achieve your daily dose of vitamin D, it's important to get your levels checked with a blood test, as most people have insufficient levels all year round.
Spend more time in nature. Some of these items on this list can be done simultaneously if you're pressed for time. Perhaps you can move your body out in the sunshine while spending time in nature? Nature, also called vitamin N, is one of the best ways to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and breathe in fresh air to help achieve fat loss. Earthing, or grounding, is also an amazing way to align your body to mother nature. Earthing has been shown to reduce free radicals, reduce inflammation and help regulate physiological imbalances.
Touch or be touched. In a completely consensual way, give a hug, get a massage, cuddle an animal or child. Touch or be touched. Touch is so important to health, it's been named vitamin T. When we touch in a positive way, we release oxytocin (the love hormone) which triggers a whole slew of feel-good emotions and has been shown to lower stress and anxiety.
Live in accordance with your faith and values. This is so often overlooked. We do so many things on a daily basis that conflict with our internal values and cause a build-up of stress and anguish. By finding ways to follow the path that fulfills your heart, you will be inadvertently also fulfilling your health.
Drink mostly water. This is another one you’re quite familiar with, and for good reason. In order to keep your body performing at its peak, drink at least half your body weight of water in ounces.
Move your body. Notice I'm not telling you to exercise? Movement can be in the form of anything that feels good to you that gets the body flowing. Yoga, gardening, walking, weightlifting, whatever makes you feel good is what you'll get the most benefit from. Stagnation in your body is toxic and will harbor sickness. Much like gridlocked traffic on the highway, stagnation slows down or stops the transportation of blood and essential fluid. Movement helps to balance your hormones, reducing estrogen and increasing testosterone, which ultimately helps you lose fat and build muscle.
The bottom line to fat loss
Be kind to your body and nurture your hormones.
When we are not getting our body's vital needs met, our body alerts us by ultimately throwing our hormones out of whack which makes us gain fat and get sick. By balancing our hormones with the help from a healthy whole plant food diet, getting sound rest and relaxation, and breathing deeply, you can literally breathe your fat away.
For more fat loss tips, check out part two of my fat loss series
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