Science now clearly identifies chronic disease and aging as a state of inflammation. We now know that diabetes and obesity are inflammatory problems, as are heart disease, cancer, depression, autism and dementia.
Your fat cells produce inflammatory molecules that perpetuate weight gain and disease. You might think that burning fat and managing a healthy weight simply comes down to eating less. This is a common mistake, considering severe calorie restriction slows down your metabolism.
Here are a few mistakes many people commonly run into when trying to lose weight. First, a look at diet.
Eating too few calories: Being in severe calorie deficit slows down your metabolic rate. To keep burning fat, aim for moderate calorie restriction, meaning several hundred calories at most per day less than your body typically needs to maintain body weight. Empty calories from junk food are not the same as what you get from healthy food. You should prioritize protein, healthy fats and whole foods that contain antioxidants and fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, 100 percent whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. You should also increase soluble fiber intake, which is found in oats, barley, peas, carrots, beans, apples, citrus fruit and psyllium.
Eating low-fat, low-calorie foods and not enough protein: You shouldn’t lower fats and in fact , you want to increase your intake of fat substantially. Essential fats are used to make hormones and improve the cell membrane for healthy hormone function in the body. Good fats, such as coconut products, avocados, extra-virgin oil and grass-feed, should be staples in your diet. Protein-rich foods such as meat, milk, eggs, beans and fish are not only satisfying and great for controlling your appetite, but they also can help rev up your metabolism.
Eating chemicals rather than nutrients: American diets fall short in nutrients like magnesium, vitamins C, E and A, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Americans have been overfed and undernourished for a very long time. Most obese children and adults are actually malnourished. An abundance of calories does not necessarily deliver the nutrients that your body needs. Many processed foods are marketed as low calorie, healthy foods. These are unnatural nutrients that act more like inflammatory chemicals than true living nutrients. For optimal fat burning, you want real nutrient dense foods. Stick with organic animal products, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Eating around the clock: We have all heard about eating many small meals throughout the day to keep our metabolism stoked. However, modern science is showing this actually leads to hormone dysfunction. It never puts our body into a state of natural fat burning. Studies are showing the power of fasting and daily intermittent fasting to regulate metabolism improves fat burning and reduces whole body inflammation. Start with three meals in a 12-hour feeding window and try reducing your feeding window to 8-10 hours. Make sure and hydrate well and over time you will build your fasting fitness and will notice less hunger as your body uses your own body fat to fuel itself.
Dinner shouldn’t be your biggest meal: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gives your metabolism the kick start it needs to burn calories and fat throughout the day. Studies show that people that eat past 6 p.m. compared to those that stop eating before 6 p.m. gain more weight.
Stop eating out for lunch: Restaurant options are filled with belly bloating, weight loss dream crushing sauces, dressings and sides.
Cheat days: You are always one meal away from getting back on track. An entire day dedicated to “cheating” just does not sound right, does it? A cheat day can easily turn into a cheat month. It is much harder to get back on track after a day of sweets, carbs and salty snacks.
Remember overeating even when healthy is overeating: A diet consisting of protein, carbs and healthy fats is packed with all the essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. However, if the macros do not match up to your weight, activity level and weight loss goals then this way of eating can actually equate to pounds.
Gut microbe imbalances: We know the gut is connected to everything in our body and the bacteria in our gut can have profound effects on weight and metabolism. Some bacteria trigger inflammation leading to leaky gut, while others are anti-inflammatory. It is important to heal your gut if it is damaged by imbalances. Avoid processed foods, consume natural nutrient dense foods and supplement appropriately.
Now a look at some lifestyle misconceptions that can sometimes impact our ability to lose weight.
Dehydration: Your body needs to stay hydrated in order to properly digest foods, eliminate waste, allow your muscles to function and keep you metabolically healthy. It’s best to drink water throughout the day and to aim for between 8-13 cups per day. Herbal tea, fresh pressed green juices and bone broth can also help.
Lack of exercise: A sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest contributors to an unhealthy weight, inflexibility, lack of strength and poor posture. For the most fat-burning effects, aim to do a combination of cardio/aerobic exercises and strength-training each week. When doing cardio, aim for about 40 minutes or more if you want to encourage fat burning.
Doing the wrong type of exercise: Most people assume if you want to lose weight you have to do a lot of cardiovascular exercise. This is untrue. Low intensity, long-duration exercise such as spending 60 minutes on an elliptical machine may help you burn calories, but it does nothing to stimulate fat-burning hormones.
Always doing the same exercise routine: Your body will eventually adapt to your exercise routine if you keep it exactly the same over time. The goal is to keep challenging your muscles, joints, ligaments and heart by incorporating new types of movements. Try adding in some yoga, Pilates, cycling, circuit training and hiking.
Over-exercising and not prioritizing recovery: While exercise is great for building muscles and slashing fat, too much can actually wind up backfiring. Not getting enough rest between workouts can lead to injury and fatigue. It’s good to do light and moderate types of exercise every day.
Not prioritizing good sleep: Getting a high quality 7-8 hours of sleep each night is very important for fat burning and the maintenance of lean body tissue. For optimal fat burning, do your best to stop doing anything that is overly stimulating such as working, scrolling social media and watching thrilling television shows or movies after 9 p.m. It’s best to be fully relaxed and in bed by 10 p.m.
Unmanaged chronic stress: Just like being sleep deprived puts you at risk for burnout, low motivation and high appetite, stress does the same thing. Make a point to incorporate stress-relieving activities into your day.