Oh yeah…I bet that title got your attention. Everyone wants to know how to rev up their metabolism and access that seemingly endless supply of bodyfat, turning those love handles and saddlebags into fuel. So how do you get that big blob of fat to turn into big logs of fuel? Isn’t that what bodyfat is designed for anyway…to be our body’s alternative fuel source when it runs out of glucose and glycogen (instant and stored carbohydrates), right? So why is it so hard to burn off that bodyfat and melt away the pounds? Could it be you are taking in too many calories so your body just doesn’t need to pull from it’s fat stores, or could it be you aren’t exercising enough to burn it off. This is the “calories in vs calories out” theory. Simply eat less and do more and you’ll drop the pounds.
That theory works. It works pretty well for those of you out there who are willing to go hungry and become exercise fanatics (which makes you even hungrier). Starve yourself and become an exercise anorexic (known as Hypergymnasia or Anorexica Athletica), and you will lose weight! So how long do you think that will last? How long will it be before you give in to your hunger pangs? What happens when you get an overuse injury? How long until you become a part of the over 90% that gain all the weight back…plus more?
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could lose weight without counting calories, or have to “burn off” everything you put in your mouth with exercise? What if there was a way to fire up your own bodyfat burning mechanism and “train” your body to use fat for energy, instead of being dependent on a constant influx of carbohydrates (glucose). If you are an endurance athlete wouldn’t it be nice to access the more than hundreds of thousands of calories of stored bodyfat for fuel, instead of having to constantly fill up your gas tank with the 100 calories of gels, bars, and syrupy drinks. Sounds like I’m getting ready to promote the latest and greatest pill to solve all your problems. But it isn’t a pill or a potion. There are everyday people and elite athletes everywhere who have figured out the secret to switching on the fat burning machine without starving, overexercising, or taking some “fat burning” pill. They have become “fat adapted”.
The “secret” to losing weight and not having to starve yourself isn’t all that complicated or mysterious. Simply stop eating so many carbohydrates and your body will re-learn how to use fat for energy. Not only will you lose weight, it is fact based on solid science, that if you decrease the amount of glucose (carbohydrates) you ingest, your triglycerides (you know…the fat floating around in your blood that is the number one predictor of heart disease), will drop to an all time low. There are more benefits, a lot more. Not only will your blood triglycerides and HDL’s impress your Doctor, but you will no longer have blood sugar swings with the accompanying “Jekyll and Hyde” personality disorder! You know…the “FEED ME NOW!” syndrome that leads to craving any and all types of carbohydrates. The addiction to carb’s will be broken when you become a fat burner. Simply eat more fat and less carb’s.
Here comes the, “Isn’t fat bad for me?” question. NO! Why do you think our body has chosen it’s stored source of unlimited fuel to be fat…not carb’s? If carb’s are so dang healthy then why don’t we store THEM as fuel…oh yeah, we do…as bodyfat! We convert those carbs to bodyfat because if they are left to swim around in our bloodstream they will cause cellular damage, tissue destruction, organ failure, and full systemic shutdown. You only have to look as far as your nearest diabetic to see what happens when glucose (carbohydrate), is left to it’s own devices. I’m not talking about a total removal of all carb’s from the diet, but when you consider the fact that the average American consumes 300-600 grams per day of this insulin spiking, fat stuffing macronutrient, then a sensible reduction to 150 grams (of quality nutrient dense carb’s…not simple sugary carb’s), will produce amazing health benefits.
There are some athletes, dieters, and health seekers out there that are going even lower, 20-100 grams, with their carb intake (and increasing their fat intake). When this happens the blood glucose and insulin levels are so low that the body has no choice but to search out those dormant fat stores in search of fuel. Converting the bodyfat into energy…doing what the body was designed to do. Reducing carbs and increasing fat intake (and a bit more protein), is how the ‘fat adapted’ become efficient fat burners. You can also access this fat burning by reducing your calorie intake, but as I mentioned before, you will be hungry and low on energy, and you won’t get over your carb cravings because you need some fat in your diet to stabilize the blood sugar and fill you up. I don’t want to get into exactly how many grams of carb’s/fat/protein (the macronutrients), in this post…it is a highly individual thing that works best with self experimentation, but I can tell you I have read and seen the results of keeping carbs under 150 grams per day. The proof is in the pudding (low-carb pudding of course).
Now you know the tip of the iceburg to becoming a fat burning machine. I personally have witnessed the benefits during the past 3 years of eating 100-150 grams of carbs per day along with a dramatic increase in dietary fat intake. My blood sugar has stabilized so that I no longer have major energy swings, I don’t have to eat every few hours, and I went through menopause with little to no side effects (dietary fat plays an important role in hormone regulation). My husband, one of the top cyclists in East Tennessee (he is not going to like me saying that…but there aren’t too many riders that can drop him, and I’m his wife so I have bragging rights), has discovered the secret and continues to improve his performance without having to ingest huge quantities of gels and drinks. As a matter of fact, he goes hours on the bike without any food intake (leaving the carb burners in his dust), and comes home refreshed, not starving for carbs. I should also point out that I have helped thousands of clients and friends regain their health. If you are inclined to want to learn more check out my favorites: Jimmy Moore, Dr. Peter Attia, Paul Jaminet, Ph.D., or Jamie Scott (my husband’s cycling coach). For all you nutrition nerds out there that need to learn more, here is a podcast with Barry Murray or Peter Attia’s presentation, on how you can become a fat burning machine.