by Dr. Will Cole
Shedding excess weight is a common health goal that many of my patients report to me in my practice of functional medicine. Examine our culture, and it will not take long to see a pattern of excessive focus on diet and working out. Of course we all want to feel and look our best, and maintaining a healthy body weight is a component in a healthy lifestyle. But for many, achieving or maintaining our happy (healthy) weight is just plain hard.
Your body’s metabolism is not static, and it can be affected in ways that make it more efficient at taking the food we eat and burning it for energy. In order to lose weight, we need our metabolism to be working at top speed. Instead of reducing calories to maintain or lose weight, we can turn our attention to speeding up the fat-burning process. This route leaves less room for being tired and hangry. Thankfully there are simple fat burning hacks that are easy to add to your life. What? No crazy diet, weight loss pills, nonstop workouts, or overly restrictive eating? Read on.
1. Drink more water.
You probably saw this tip coming, but it makes so much sense when you remember that over half of your body’s composition is water. Hydration is a necessity because the body loses water through eating, sweating, and just breathing. Plus, drinking at least eight cups of water a day can burn close to 20,000 extra calories a year.
2. Try intermittent fasting.
Stoke the fat burning fire by stabilizing your blood sugar and decreasing inflammation with intermittent fasting. Going for hours without eating also decreases the hunger hormone ghrelin which will reduce the body’s cravings for sugary, inflammation inducing foods in the first place.
3. Don’t fear fat.
Ideally, your body needs to make a shift from being a sugar-burner to becoming a fat-burner. When you decrease your intake of carbohydrates and increase your consumption of healthy fats, your metabolism will move away from leaning on glucose as fuel and will begin to turn to its fat stores for energy.
This shift burns more fuel overall while simultaneously retaining muscle. A ketogenic diet that focuses on lots of healthy fat, moderate protein, and fewer carbohydrates is fantastic for ensuring your body receives the macronutrients it needs from food.
4. Drink more tea.
Thermogenesis is a process in the body that produces heat, and it can add to calories the body burns. There are specific compounds in foods that contain naturally occurring thermogenic nutrients. Catechins in green tea can boost fat-burning between 10 and 16 percent, another reason to brew more matcha.
5. Eat more spicy foods.
6. Sweat it out.
Infrared saunas are able to penetrate your skin barrier and therefore increase your core body temperature directly. Regular saunas must heat the air inside them before that heated air can warm you. Research conducted by one of the leading infrared sauna companies showed that consistent use over a three month period contributed to significant weight loss. Since you will be sweating you will be releasing toxins and lowering inflammation that may contribute to many health issues at the same time. Treat yourself!
7. Add in a probiotic.
The gut dictates so many aspects of health, including your weight. In fact, research has linked lower microbiome diversity to being overweight. Those who face weight loss resistance commonly are shown to have increased amounts of the bad bacteria Actinobacteria and Firmicutes and fewer beneficial bacteria such as Bacteroides, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, and Verrucomicrobia. Fortunately, adding lots of fermented foods and a probiotic with bifidobaceria, enterococcus, and lactobacillus has been shown to positively impact the microbiome and aids in recolonizing the gut with good bacteria.
8. Try strength training.
Muscle tissue uses more energy than fat tissue, so the more muscle tissue your body has, the more calories you will burn, even when you are not working out. Strength training can also improve resting metabolic rate, which in turn boosts metabolism.
9. Limit alcohol.
Each time you drink alcohol, your body has to pause other functions and focus on metabolizing the alcohol by filtering it through your liver. This slows your metabolism by redirecting energy from the task of metabolizing fats and sugars. In fact, after consuming one drink, your fat burning function is decreased by 73 percent.
10. Embrace the cold.
Two different types of fat in your body are white fat and brown fat. White fat increases in response to extra energy from the food we eat and is the most prevalent in our bodies, whereas brown fat can torch calories to produce heat in the right circumstances and is found in far smaller amounts. Because brown fat is the type that boosts your metabolism and burns more energy it has recently become the subject of examination in the role it can play in health. According to research, regularly exposing yourself to cold temperatures increases your brown fat percentage to help you burn more fat. Maybe winter isn’t so bad after all?
11. Run labs.
In functional medicine we understand that we don’t lose weight to become healthy; we become healthy to lose weight. You may tweak your metabolism with little tricks, but until you pinpoint the underlying factors of why your body is holding onto weight; any weight loss will never be long term. Multiple factors like gut dysfunctions, thyroid issue, and imbalanced hormones can contribute to why you will not lose weight. Running labs to gain perspective on your current health status, and working with your doctor on a personal action plan to rehab your health from the inside is the surest path to wellness. Finally, Not sure if your metabolism is fast or slow? Here’s exactly how to tell.
If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer in person as well as phone and webcam consultations for people across the country and around the world.
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