With the recent obesity epidemic, the weight loss industry is currently making billions of dollars per year, but if the weight loss industry is making more money now than ever before, why does the human population continue to get fatter and fatter every year? The answer is that almost all weight loss products and programs are focused on short term weight loss, which they accomplish very well. However, in the long term these products and programs don’t hold up at all. This is ideal because it just has people jumping from one product or program to the next, trying desperately to lose weight, meanwhile constantly feed the weight loss industry machine.
I’m going to be blunt when I say this, “weight loss is easy, in fact, it can be effortless if done right.” It doesn’t involve supplements, or a special type of exercise equipment. It just involves eating the right foods, doing a little bit of exercise, and sleeping more. It’s really as simple as that and best of all it doesn’t cost anything.
When it comes to weight loss and health in general, your diet is the most vital component. I would say 80% of your weight loss will come from your diet, so this is the area you need to work the hardest on.
Why do we get fat?
Before we dive into what the best style of eating is to achieve effortless weight loss, let’s first examine how people get fat in the first place. The main cause for our bodies deciding to accumulate fat is due to the over consumption of refined carbohydrates, which trigger massive spikes insulin, which then leads to fat storage. Insulin is a hormone produced by our pancreas to help regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in our blood stream. Insulin is provided within the body in a constant proportion to remove excess glucose (sugar) from the blood, which otherwise would be toxic. (1) The ways that insulin removes glucose (sugar) from our blood is by storing it in either our muscles, liver or fat cells. However, once the muscles and liver are full, the excess glucose will be converted into triglycerides which will then be stored as fat within the fat cell. The more glucose (sugar) you have in your blood, the more insulin will be produced, and potentially the more fat you will accumulate. Also, when insulin is present in the body it prevents your body from being able to burn body fat as energy.
So, to put it simply, the more refined carbohydrates, sugary foods and drinks you over consume, the more your body will have to work at removing that excess glucose which means storing it the fat cells (unless the liver and muscles have room which they most likely will not unless you have worked out), and the more fat you will accumulate.
The style of eating that I believe is the most effective and the easiest to follow is a high fat, carbohydrate restricted diet. The reason eating a diet high in fat, in particular saturated and monounsaturated fat, is so effective is because:
- It produces a minimal insulin response. Having minimal levels of insulin in the blood means that your body is now free to burn body fat for energy more easily.
- It trains your body to become more efficient at utilizing its own body fat for energy. Your body will literally adapt to the foods you eat to become more efficient at utilizing them. If you eat a high fat diet, you’ll be training your body to become better at burning fat, which is what you want if your goal is to burn fat off your body.
- Fat is very satiating. If you’re feeling full all the time than your cravings for sugary foods will drop dramatically because you simply will be too full to want them.
It’s the perfect three pronged attacked. You provide the ideal environment in your body to allow for body fat to be burned off, you train your body to become more efficient at utilizing its own body fat, and you reduce the cravings to eat sugary foods. The main idea of this style of eating is to train your body to become fat adapted. Aside from helping you effortlessly lose weight, being fat adapted has many other benefits as well, which Mark Session discusses in this post about becoming fat adapted that I would highly recommend checking out.
Timing is Everything
When you’re trying to lose weight on a high fat, carbohydrate restricted diet, it’s all about timing. You want to consume your fats and proteins during the day and reserve your carbs for the evening. Your day should look like this:
When we wake up in the mornings our bodies are in a fat burning state due to the fast we enter during sleep. So, when we wake up we are literally burning body fat. However, most people break this fat burning state by consuming the typical breakfast options which are foods like:
- sugary yogurts
- lots of sugar in our coffee
By consuming these foods in the mornings you are spiking your insulin, which prevents body fat from being burned, and you are also sending a signal to your body to store body fat. What you want to do instead is either skip breakfast altogether (but only if your not hungry) or start adding fat into your morning coffee or tea such as heavy cream, coconut oil, or blending it with grass fed butter. By skipping breakfast you allow your body to continue to burn body fat throughout the morning. Also, by simply adding pure fat into an already fat burning system, all your doing is providing your body with extra energy without taking yourself out of this fat burning state.
For lunch it is crucial that your try your best to bring a lunch from home. Aside from saving money, bringing a lunch from home allows you to control what you eat. If you can control what you eat, you can control your health. The best strategy I’ve discovered for deciding what to eat for lunch is to just think about hamburgers. Take all the ingredients you can put in a hamburger, minus the bun, and that is what you can put in your tupperware for lunch. These ingredients include:
- Ground meat (beef, lamb, bison, chicken, pork)
- Canned or smoked fish (wild salmon, tuna)
- Cheese (unpasteurized is best but pasteurized will work too)
- Avocado, tomatoes, onions
- Green leafy vegetable (kale, lettuce, spinach)
And for more example, check out my four part series on Lazy Man Lunches
Also, feel free to add whatever vegetables you like, you don’t have to limit yourself to just vegetables you can get on a hamburger. If you like broccoli or brussels sprouts, add those too, just avoid starchy, carbohydrate dense vegetables like potatoes and rice.
Dinner is the time of day where you can be more flexible with your food choices. During a great review of John Kifers Carb Back-Loading protocol, Dr. Bill Lagakos discusses numerous studies showing the potential benefits for calorie and carb back loading which leads me to believe that reserving your biggest meal for night would be your best bet for maximum fat loss. For dinner, I would recommend getting a Low Carb or Paleo cookbook and taking ideas from there. The one cookbook I use and recommend is called Transforming Recipes The Ultra Low Carb Cookbook (I am an affiliate for this cookbook because I truly believe Alex V. Navarro and Mary J. Gines have a great product).
However, another easy alternative would be to eat your breakfast for dinner. Typically if I’m too lazy to follow a recipe I’ll just make bacon, eggs, and sweet potato hash browns or an eggs benedict with a sweet potato pancake instead of an english muffin. As long as you include some kind of fat like a fatty cut of meat, cooking your food in coconut oil, or drowning your vegetables in butter, you can pretty much eat what you want for dinner as long as its real, whole foods.
There are hundreds of different types of exercises that one can do but in terms of effortless weight loss, there is only two that I would recommend.
Building Muscle Through High Intensity Resistance Training
Think of building muscle like your insurance plan. The more muscle you have, the less likely you are to gain fat. It is literally harder for your body to accumulate body fat, the more muscle you have.
High intensity resistance training is a workout that involves lifting very heavy weights for short periods of time. The reason high intensity workouts work so well is because it causes the most amount of muscle damage in the shortest amount of time, with a big emphasis on recovery. In my opinion, high intensity resistance training is the best and easiest way to build muscle. You can do a full body workout, once a week, for around 12 minutes, and build the same amount, or potentially more muscle from my own personal experience, than you would lifting weights five days a week. So, now your excuse of “I don’t have time to workout” is completely invalid. If you don’t have 12 minutes a week you either don’t really want to lose weight or you have a serious work – life balance issue. This is the only type of weight lifting I do, I’ve been doing it for the last three years, and I would highly recommend trying it out.
If you would like more information this high intensity workout just check out my post on How to Hack Your Fitness
This might seem strange, but walking is a sufficient enough exercise for losing weight. Albeit, just a hypothesis, the idea is that when you’re walking for long periods of time, your signaling to your body that you are traveling long distances. Since our bodies are always trying to adapt and become more efficient at whatever it is that you are doing, traveling long distances will signal to your body that it will need to become very lean. The less body weight you are carrying, the less energy you will spend while traveling, and the more efficient at traveling long distances you will become. I would suggest walking for 30 minutes to an hours daily, before work, after work, or whenever you can find the time.
If you need some ideas on how to make walking more enjoyable then check out Walking: A simple way to improve your life.
Most people think that getting five to six hours of sleep a night is a sufficient amount. Although some days it can be, sleep tends to have a debt like quality to it. The longer we cheat on our sleep, the harder it becomes to wake up every morning, and the less productive we become. Most of us however, instead of addressing the direct problem of not getting enough sleep, chalk up our morning sluggishness to “I’m just not a morning person”. Being sluggish in the morning though isn’t the only symptom you will suffer from from lack of sleep.
A recent study came out finally pinpointing the true reason why we need sleep. The study published in the Journal of Science on October 18, 2013, discovered that our brains work a lot like a garbage disposal system.While we are awake, our brains are engaged in a lot of activities from analyzing our environment to creating memories. These activities produce a toxic waste product much like running your car produces harmful pollution. If these toxins build up too much they can actually kill our brain cells and cause brain damage. What this study proved is that during sleep our brains are able to clear out these waste products of neural activity at a much faster rate while sleeping than in our wakeful state. During sleep our brains are cleaning themselves of waste so the next day they can work more effectively. When you don’t get enough sleep your brain is literally filling up with neural garbage, so be sure to get that eight hours at night.
Will power or our ability to make good decisions is actually a finite resource. In the mornings our willpower is strong and we have no problem making decisions that will benefit us. However, as the day winds down our ability to make good decisions goes down as well. When we are tired our ability to care drops dramatically, and usually the first thing we stop caring about is what we eat. Getting that donut at the coffee shop or stopping at the fast food restaurant on our way home becomes that much easier to do. We are tired, and we simply don’t care anymore because our will power has worn out. Much like our muscles, our ability to make good decisions get tired the more we use it.
Having a lack of sleep and being tired directly affects our will power. It makes it that much harder to avoid bad food choices. We need to make sure we get a good nights rest so we can survive the onslaught of delicious, sugary treats that seem to surround us everywhere we go.
Numerous studies have shown that a consistent sleep schedule coupled with seven to eight hours of quality sleep, seems to correlate with lower body fat. When we’re lacking in sleep, hormones such as ghrelin and leptin become unbalanced. These hormones are in control of food cravings and signaling to our brain that we are full. When these are out of balance our food cravings become more intense and we tend to overeat because we don’t feel as satiated after meals.
In terms of effortless weight loss, what could be more effortless than just going to bed earlier? Setting up a sleep routine and making sure you aim for eight hours of sleep a night is a surefire way to ensure healthier eating, a better ability to make good decisions through the day, and a lower body fat percentage.
Go Easy on Yourself
Expectations can ruin your weight loss efforts. A lot people think it’s either they eat healthy 100% of the time or not at all. That’s a lot of stress to put on yourself. A much easier way is to use the 80/20 principle. If you eat healthy 80% of the time, you’ll be perfectly healthy and I would even argue that you could even become healthier than the OCD health nut that only eats healthy food. Putting our bodies through a small amount of stress can actually be beneficial to our health.
Hormesis is when you expose yourself to a toxin which forces your body to adapt and become more resistant to that toxin, thus becoming more resilient. Think of it like the flu shot. We expose ourselves to a small amount of the flu so that our bodies can build a resistance to it. Then, if we come in contact with that same flu later on our chances of becoming sick drop dramatically because our bodies are now more resistant to it.
If you would like more advice on how to take the stress out of eating, I would recommend checking out my post on How to Liberate your Diet and End your Food Fears.
If done right weight loss can not only be easy, but effortless. The old paradigm of weight loss which states “eat less, exercise more, and if you cheat on your diet you’re a failure” is dead. For long term weight loss this method has proven to fail time and time again because it goes against the way our bodies naturally operate. We have to stop thinking we are smarter than our bodies and trying to trick it into doing what we want. Our bodies are incredibly resilient, complex, and intelligent.
When we sit around all day and eat a diet high in refined carbohydrates, we are telling our body to gain weight. Then, when we become fat, we get upset. After that, we started a calorie restricted diet which basically means we are trying to starve ourselves to lose weight. By doing this we are telling our body that there is a famine and there is very little food to go around. Our bodies, being the intelligent survival machines that they are, start to store and conserve body fat which it can survive on later if the famine persists. Then, once we inevitably stop our calorie restricted diets, we gain all the weight back plus a few extra pounds because during our diet our bodies decided that burning muscle for energy was more beneficial than burning fat because fat is more calorie dense and thus more valuable for long term survival.
This is the typical weight loss journey that a lot people go through and it’s insane. Our bodies are constantly telling us what it needs, the problem is we just don’t listen. So, as a recap, this is how you achieve effortless weight loss:
- Allow the environment for fat loss, train your body to utilize body fat more efficiently, and keep your sugar cravings under control by eating a high fat, carbohydrate restricted diet.
- Build muscle as an insurance policy against fat gain
- Go for a walk to get the body moving and to signal to your body that you need to be leaner for long distance traveling.
- Get eight hours of sleep so your brain works better, you can make better decisions, you can fight off overeating, and you can achieve lower body fat.
- Eat healthy 80% of the time and don’t stress over food