Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Seven Controversial Health Tips to Getting Lean



This post is a nice little taster to my upcoming beast of an article and must read, 'The Three Big Weight-Loss Myths: Or how to get lean by defying conventional wisdom'.

Let me start by saying that not all things work for all people. There are many ways to skin a kangaroo. Yet I am convinced that the following seven tips are key to getting lean in a realistic, healthy and sustainable way and should work for most otherwise healthy people. 

These tips are merely common knowledge to the Paleo/Primal community. Yet they may seem absolute sacrilege to the "conventional" health industry that still spruiks the low-fat, high carb, weight-loss message... bringing misery to health novices with their quinoa and tofurky! 

Well forget that crap. They had their chance and failed miserably. Here's the real deal:


1. EAT MORE FAT
I am not going to stop beating the 'Eat More Fat' drum!!! 

Forget what you've heard about saturated fat being bad and clogging your arteries. That is complete bullshit.

If saturated fat were bad for us, why would mother's milk - arguably the healthiest and most natural human sustenance available - be comprised of 53% saturated fat? Those poor babies eating so much saturated fat - clogging their little arteries and making them fat. Better put them on soy formula laced with statins!

Eat more good fat and less bad carbs and you will lose weight and improve your metabolic markers. 

Seriously - go nuts on the eggs, avocados, coconut products, butter, olive oil, fatty cuts of meat, fatty seafood and other real fats that occur in nature. (There are some minor caveats to this).  

Read 'Eat More Fat' for some heavier content or this excellent Huffington Post article by a real doctor.


2. AVOID "HEALTHY WHOLE GRAINS"

The only thing "healthy" about whole grains is the profit margins of big agri-business like Monsanto. 

Whole grains are a nutrient-poor, inferior food product when compared to vegetables. Give up the wheat, corn, rice and oats in favor of vegetables. And if you really need the starch (highly active, lean people like CrossFitters) then eat sweet potatoes, pumpkin (squash), yams or plantains instead.

Read 'Crappy Carbs Can Kill' for a more complex view.


3. CONSUME CAFFEINE

Caffeine is great for weight loss. It has some potential side effects but guess what? So does listening to music, having sex and skydiving. (Especially when conducted simultaneously!) If coffee is too scary for you, have green tea. 

OK, I'm not forcing you to consume caffeine if you don't want to but if you're like me and have a penchant for black gold, don't feel bad about it!

Read 'My Big Four Paleo Exceptions-  Part I' for the full scoop on coffee.

4. DON'T BREAK FAST (Skip breakfast)

Wake up, have a big glass of water and a strong black coffee (add some heavy cream or blend in some butter or MCT oil if you're feeling adventurous... but not milk) or gulp a green tea and get on with your day. 

Leverage the natural overnight fast and can get your body fat-adapted by forcing it to continue to tap into your fat stores to fuel your morning. Go 12-16 hours without eating once in a while and guess what, you've just done an 'Intermittent Fast'. 

I don't recommend doing this every day. Keep your body guessing! Routine is the enemy to leanness and robust health. Randomness is your friend!

I'll soon be posting 'My Experience with Intermittent Fasting' - for the IFs and Buts on fasting.



5. CUT THE FRUIT

Overdoing fruit is one of the biggest hurdles to wait loss. If you need to lose fat quickly then cut ALL fruit except for berries until you reach your ideal weight. Fructose ain't great, even from whole fruit when over-consumed. And definitely avoid all juice. That's a no-brainer. 


6. OVER-EAT... AND UNDER-EAT 

We are evolved to eat sporadically, with periods of feast and famine. Can you imagine our Paleo ancestors eating small meals every 3 hours? HA! Good luck! 

Our body is incredibly adaptable. If you eat the same amount of food at the same times every day our body comes to expect that - our metabolism gets very efficient. This is not necessarily a good thing. 

Once you start getting older and less active, or your hormones get out of balance, or your sleep gets worse, or you move to London, or you have kids and eat all their leftovers, or you get more stressed, or you stop walking to work, or you [insert reality of aging here] but you continue to eat the same amount (or more) then your fat weight will slowly but surely creep up while your lean muscle mass declines. Sad but true.

One way to help avoid this - keep your body on its toes by going through periods of over-eating and under-eating. 

Skip meals once in a while. Have a massive high-fat, low-carb breakfast every few days - bacon, 3 eggs, half an avocado and spinach sautéed in butter. I guarantee you will not be hungry again until late afternoon. Inconsistent feeding is natural and healthy. Being hungry is NORMAL! We want a dynamic metabolism that burns the excess calories when you over-eat, and burns excess body fat when you under-eat.



7. LAY OFF THE CHRONIC CARDIO

This is finally reaching the mainstream media. Steady state "chronic" cardio is not a very good use of your time, if your goal is to get lean (lose fat, not muscle). 

You know what happens if you run 7km four times a week? You get very good at running 7km four times a week. Sure you'll improve cardiovascular fitness up to a point and it's better than doing nothing but there are much more efficient ways to exercise to maximise all the key benefits - improving insulin sensitivity, increasing growth hormone, building lean muscle, stress management, better sleep etc - and that is to do weight training, high intensity training, sprints, circuits or intervals. 

Not only will you improve your body composition faster, you'll also save a lot of time and put less stress on your body that can result in chronic, low-level inflammation.

My sprint workout take me about 10 minutes including warm up. Twice a week is more than enough. Add in 30 minutes of weight training twice a week and then you can spend all that extra time cooking healthier meals for yourself or writing thank you emails to me! 

I'm not saying doing a couple of long runs or rides per week is necessarily bad for you. Keep it up if it makes you happy. I'm just saying that (in my opinion) the best, most time efficient and enjoyable way to achieve optimal fitness and body composition is to incorporate weights and sprints into your workout regimen.

For more on how chronic cardio sucks for weight loss read The Big Three Weight Loss Myths: # 2 - Do Cardio to Burn Fat

So that's that. I'm telling you y'all can eat more fat, train less, drink coffee, skip breakfast and over-eat and it will actually help you to get lean. What's not to love about the Paleo/Primal lifestyle? 

"Eat Paleo. Train. Live life."

PS - If you follow me on Twitter I'll have one more reason to tweet more!

---
[Images courtesy of www.someecards.com and www.rottenecards.com]

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