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Weight Loss-Burn and Lose Fat For Healthy Weight Loss

Posted Sep 22 2008 11:52pm


Obesity has become a major health epidemic. Data from a prominent health survey (NHANES) taken in1976-1980 and again in 2003-2004, revealed that obesity rates (defined as being over 30 percent above ideal body weight), have more than doubled for children and adults. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), reports that approximately one-third of the U.S. population is classified as obese and over two-thirds are significantly overweight. What we now know, is that the proverbial spare tire or belly fat, and obesity, represents a slow but sure metabolic disease pattern which begins for many early in childhood. Being overweight is not simply about towing around extra weight, but rather one of a brewing health disorder that most people are not aware of until they are given a diagnosis. There may be 30 or 40 years of biological mayhem being created in one’s body before they are pronounced with Metabolic Syndrome or type 2 diabetes, not to mention the cardiovascular and neurological implications of their condition that can suddenly put their lives at risk if not end it prematurely.

We are becoming a nation of overstuffed and overweight people with no end in sight. What is little understood about this growing pandemic, is that it is a medical issue beyond a will-power and calorie cutting solution. Restrictive dieting compounds the problem, by slowing down metabolism and putting many overweight individuals deeper into a weight loss resistant syndrome (cluster of risk factors).

The accumulation of weight and fat in particular, puts into motion, metabolic and hormonal dysfunction that makes losing that weight and fat very difficult. Fat becomes your own worst enemy-especially the fat around your waist. Visceral fat, or belly fat, is a metabolically active organ secreting hormones and inflammatory molecules that contributes to a vicious cycle of gaining more fat and not being able to lose it. Once the metabolic and hormonal harmony has been disrupted by the fat and weight gain, only a comprehensive health program that integrates tailored nutrition, exercise, stress modification, and carefully selected supplementation, will encourage the body naturally back into health. Whether you are classified as obese, or you are just looking for the surest way to lose the fat and those few extra pounds, as well as keeping them off, the rest of this article can give you the roadmap to success in a healthy fat and weight loss plan.

Cutting Calories

The notion that by just simply cutting calories you will attain your goal to lose weight has several flaws. First, it is all about the type of calories that you want to delete from your revised food and meal choices. We have all heard by now about the bad carbs and that is exactly what they are. Bad carbs deliver very little in the nutrition that best supports your health. They are the proverbial “empty calories”, and include most of the dreaded white foods that have been stripped of their basic goodness from processing, such as white bread, white rice, refined sugar and most of the desserts and fast foods that many individuals with weight problems over consume. These foods are low or void of fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals (they are often added), and an essential food that is needed to support your ideal metabolism and weight-protein! In contrast, nutrient dense proteins, vegetables and starches from whole foods like brown rice, legumes (beans and lentils), or yams, provide the nutrients necessary to fuel a healthy metabolism. In most cases where clients of mine followed modifications in the types of foods they were eating regularly coupled with consistent exercise and metabolic enhancing supplementation, they were able to naturally, and with little effort, lose those most unwanted pounds-fat. On the other side, individuals that have hurt their metabolic performance through years of abuse from dietary and lifestyle factors, typically have a much more difficult road back to a healthier metabolism, fat loss and an ideal weight. They become weight loss resistant.
As you gain weight and increase fat stores, your body’s metabolism and hormonal regulators that maintain your ideal weight and fat levels, are disrupted. You need a healthy metabolism in concert with key hormones-insulin and leptin that regulate weight and fat stores, in order to maintain your ideal weight. It is not all about too many calories ending up as fat stores. Recent evidence suggests that many individuals that are genetically predisposed to insulin resistance and Metabolic Syndrome, do not metabolize carbohydrates efficiently. Instead of metabolizing carbs into glycogen-an energy storage form of carbohydrate, carbs are metabolized into fats. Insulin takes fat and sugar into your cells. More fat made, more fat stored into your body’s cells and more fat cells created. As you drive up insulin production from sugar and carb intake, you may become resistant to the function of insulin. With elevated insulin and insulin resistance, your body’s metabolism is inhibited from using its stored fat for energy. Once the carb and insulin factors play out into increased body fat, another hormone, leptin, steps in to contribute to fat problems. Leptin is now understood to be a central player in how your body metabolizes fat.

Leptin and related hormones

Leptin, named after leptos, the Greek term for “thin,” is a hormone released by your fat cells. Leptin is thought to influence body weight through its action on the hypothalamus, the area in the brain that helps regulate appetite and satiety-your state of feeling full or satisfied from a meal. Leptin travels through the bloodstream to the brain and tells it, “I’m full.” Leptin is a powerful appetite suppressant. In studies, mice that don’t produce leptin at all eat uncontrollably; normal mice that receive an extra dose of it lose weight. Leptin also benefits healthy metabolism and enhances thermogenesis (thermogenesis increases the metabolism of the body’s fat tissue, generating heat), factors vital to keeping fat and weight gain at bay).

One of leptin’s main roles is to let your brain know how fat you are. Leptin levels increase with the accumulation of fat. Leptin’s job is to feed-back to the hypothalamus in the brain, that there are adequate energy (fat) stores, which in turn, communicates back to the body’s cells to burn fat rather than continue to store excess energy. So you would think that if leptin levels were plentiful, your fat and weight would melt away. Not so easy. Leptin first gained notoriety in the ’90s in animal studies. Leptin given to obese mice had dramatic reversals in weight and fat stores. Despite the continuing hype by some as a cure for obesity, the animal study results did not pan out in human studies. After a while, the leptin in the animal studies did not continue to have a positive benefit. The reasons are not clear. However it seems that the problem is at least one of resistance. Just as higher insulin levels are associated with eventual insulin resistance, higher leptin levels apparently are associated with leptin resistance too. (1) In other words, your leptin stops working for you, it is working against you. As leptin levels increase in weight and fat accumulation, you become leptin resistant.

Sleep deprivation has been shown as well to increase leptin levels. Many studies indicate that subjects that sleep less have greater possibility of becoming obese. (2) Less sleep increases leptin and another hormone involved in hunger control-ghrelin, leading to an increase in appetite and hunger. Addressing lifestyle factors are important elements in healthy hormone levels, and for the success of any weight loss program.

Recently, another hormone has been implicated in regulating fat stores and leptin. Melatonin, a hormone made by a part of the brain called the pineal gland, has demonstrated a favorable benefit in aging rats, in suppressing belly fat, leptin, and insulin. Assessing Melatonin levels, and optimizing levels in aging individuals, may provide another strategy for reducing belly fat and restoring more youthful levels of leptin and insulin.(3) As with all hormones, monitoring the levels during therapy is important to achieve optimal functional levels within the body. Don’t Guess-Test!

Another side effect of elevated insulin levels is the suppression of Human Growth Hormone (HGH).(4) HGH is normally released by the pineal gland during the sleep cycle and is a key hormone for promoting the regenerative repair processes that occurs at night. HGH mobilizes fat from fat cells and helps to use them for energy metabolism. HGH levels, like most hormones, diminish with age, and low HGH levels reflect all of the biomarkers of aging- loss of muscle, an increase in fat, decreased energy, diminished sexual drive, a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and a lower life expectancy. Exercise and amino acid supplementation can boost HGH levels. The amino acids GABA, Glutamine, Arginine, lysine and Ornithine, and cofactors B3, B5, B6, vitamin C, contribute to HGH secretion. Nutritional supplement formulas that combine a combination of a few of the above are widely available and are a good alternative to HGH therapy when combined with specific exercises such as high-intensity training (see exercise section) and weight lifting. HGH therapy should be reserved for those aging individuals that will carefully weight the risks and benefits with an experienced and qualified anti-aging physician.

Stress, Cortisol, Insulin and Belly Fat

Cortisol, an adrenal gland hormone that serves many important physiological functions, including energy metabolism, blood sugar regulation, inflammation control, and immune system integrity, is often referred as a stress hormone. Under continuous stress activation, the body’s adrenal glands will hyper-secrete cortisol which ultimately has severe effects on health. Rather than detail the profound aspects of stress and stress hormones on well being, I recommend two books: Robert Sapolsky’s “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers”, and James Wilson’s “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. For the purposes of this article, we will stick to a brief overview on the impact of cortisol in weight and fat gain and it’s relationship to insulin.

Chronic elevated cortisol is linked to stress induced eating behavior including binge eating. Stress eating will invariably include foods that are the most problematic in weight and fat gain-sugary and junk foods. At this point in the article we understand that these foods when over consumed, can over time, lead to insulin resistance and increased belly fat. Chronic elevations in cortisol is also linked to promoting insulin resistance. So stress-eating patterns will in many individuals accelerate any propensity to add pounds and fat-especially around the waist. Why? Again, the hallmark of insulin resistance weight gain is that it will be deposited around your waistline. Elevated cortisol is a potent contributor to belly fat not only because it promotes insulin resistance, but because of the following. The fat cells in and around your abdomen easily express enzymes that promote cortisol,(5) especially if you are insulin resistant, and they are rich in cortisol receptors.(6) That is a problem since too much cortisol can increase the number and size of fat cells around your waist. So if you are frequently in a stress eating pattern, you are promoting a potent double whammy of high insulin responses to high glycemic foods and the eventual insulin resistance that follows, and high cortisol patterns related to chronic stress responses. The result? More fat and weight around your belly, a Metabolic Syndrome health threat with the possibility of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease if you do not change your eating and lifestyle patterns. Some women diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome may also fall into a Metabolic Syndrome or pre-diabetes condition. Stress and too much cortisol are bad for your waistline, your heart, your brain and many other key areas of your health. So how do we compensate for the inevitable stressors that are part of our lives? Stress modification practices such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture, time in nature and appropriate exercise regimens, are vital lifestyle measures for managing unhealthy stress levels. An adrenal health checkup can also reveal important information about your cortisol and DHEA levels. DHEA and cortisol balance is another marker of adrenal health and a useful area to monitor in chronic disease and health patterns related to stress. There are many well-researched herbal and nutritional supplements that regulate stress hormones and support adrenal health. Some of my favorites include: Phosphatidyl Serine, adaptogenic herbs like Ashwaganda and Rhodiola and nutrients like B5, B6, magnesium, zinc and vitamin C.

Weight Loss Resistance

Years of stress on sugar metabolism and insulin secretion from a diet rich in refined carbohydrate and simple sugars, eventually disrupts the body’s ability to efficiently metabolize the sugar that is taken up into the blood stream (blood glucose). In insulin resistance, the body starts to lose its ability to respond to the hormone insulin. Elevated leptin and leptin resistance, stress hormones (cortisol) outlined above, and lifestyle factors, are significant components in weight and fat gain as well.

Blend it all together, and over time, the cells of the body become resistant to insulin and it’s job of shuttling sugar into the cell for energy metabolism. Underlying this scenario is the state of nutrient deficiencies from poor dietary choices-the very nutrients necessary for feeding and optimizing the metabolic energy pathways that occur on a cellular level. As you become more and more resistant to insulin and you develop nutritional deficiencies that are important in sugar metabolism and insulin sensitivity, you gain weight that becomes harder to shed. You develop a weight loss resistance syndrome.

The calories in and calories out model will not work if you are weight loss resistant. Many Americans, some estimates are up to 25%, have Metabolic Syndrome.(7) Many more with a lesser degree of insulin resistance, or a prediabetic condition are undiagnosed. Individuals with insulin resistance, AKA Metabolic Syndrome, put on weight and fat around their abdomen. Belly fat is linked to multiple medical problems. Increased waist circumference, greater than 102 cm (40 inches) in men and 88 cm (35 inches) in women, is a predictor of insulin resistance syndrome in adults. children and adolescents. If the condition of insulin resistance and increased belly fat has been in place for an extended period of time, it will be a more difficult challenge to lose that fat. Even non-obese insulin resistant individuals accumulate more abdominal fat compared to people of the same weight, that have normal insulin sensitivity. There are degrees to these conditions, and you can have a mild, moderate or a more severe metabolic disease pattern that you may be completely unaware of. Lab markers that may indicate that you are leaning in the direction of a metabolic disorder include:

• Elevated (high normal) fasting blood glucose
• Elevated blood triglycerides
• Elevated LDL cholesterol
• Low HDL cholesterol

Blood pressure of 130/85 mm Hg or higher is another early warning sign.

Your Metabolism

Even if you are a couch potato, your body is burning energy. Your metabolism is working, albeit at a very low rate. This is what is referred to as you Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR)-the number of calories per day your body burns while you are doing nothing, such as sitting on the sofa or even at sleep. You can calculate your BMR using a calculator that takes your height, weight and age to approximate what your daily caloric expenditure is. Your BMR is approximately 60-70% of your total daily caloric requirement. Other factors that influence your BMR are height, weight, age and sex. The BMR calculation for an individual will represent the number of calories you can eat every day and maintain your current weight. In order to lose weight, you’ll need to take in fewer calories than this result-approximately 500 calories less per day to lose 1lb./week. Exercising to burn more calories can accelerate the weight loss.
However, this gets into the “calorie counting” trap of gauging how many calories you take in from food each day and perhaps how much extra you can burn through exercise. Yes, that can be helpful for those that can discipline themselves to a calorie counting routine and whose energy metabolism is functioning at an optimal rate, but for many it is too tedious and for others, and it does not address their unique metabolism and what may be negatively affecting it. In insulin resistance, the metabolic processes that turn glucose and fatty acids (fats) into energy are not functioning normally. As you become insulin resistant, you do not take up glucose into your cells, which leads to cravings for sugar, compulsive overeating, and the accumulation of belly fat and weight gain. Leptin resistance compounds the problem-it becomes harder to burn and lose the fat.

Another problem with calorie restriction is that if it is too severe, you will slow down your metabolism. Dieting that restricts important foods and nutrients, robs the body of both fat and muscle. Once you get back to eating regularly, your slower metabolic rate from too much and too frequent calorie restriction, will make it more difficult to maintain your ideal body weight and even more importantly, your ideal lean muscle mass ratio to body fat. I find that if you enhance your metabolism with a healthy ratio of protein, fats and carbs, frequent and smaller meals, exercise, and wise supplementation with metabolic supportive and thermogenic (fat burning) aides, you will rev up your metabolism and not have to count calories. Yes, this is a longer road back for those with insulin and leptin resistance, but vital to their long term health and wellness.

Getting Enough Protein?

Protein contributes to your ideal weight in several ways. First, if you’re not getting your minimum daily requirement of protein your body will break down skeletal muscle and later organ muscle-not good! Remember, you want to keep a good lean body tissue (muscle mass) to fat ratio. The US RDA recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight per day for sedentary people. This is a very conservative recommendation too maintain lean body mass-sedentary is the operative word. Think flabby couch potato. If you are active and exercise, you require at least
1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass (your muscle tissue), to sustain your muscle mass. This will most likely be your category if you are exercising as well to lose weight and fat. Another measure of optimum protein ingestion is what many professional athletes consume-up to 2 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight to build and maintain their muscle mass. However, you do not have to be a bodybuilder or world-class athlete to justify eating extra protein. Shedding those excess pounds of body fat is the goal and you will achieve it more efficiently by eating enough protein to sustain your muscle mass. The advantages of a high-protein diet for fat loss are well supported by research.

Eating more protein and less unhealthy carbs, can give you another edge in a healthy fat loss program. If you increase your protein intake and reduce high glycemic foods, you will lose the fat and keep it off. The glycemic index is a ranking system for foods, based on their effect on blood glucose levels. Foods that break down rapidly during digestion have the highest glycemic effect on blood glucose. These unsurprisingly include the bad carbs noted earlier. Foods that break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, have a low glycemic index. These would include the more favorable carbs noted earlier-whole grains, legumes, and other high fiber starches. There is significant research of late that clearly establishes the link between the intake high glycemic rated foods and obesity, Metabolic Syndrome and cardiovascular disease. A more accurate rating of foods that may spike your blood sugar, is the glycemic load. The glycemic load takes into account the available carbohydrate in that serving and the glycemic index of the food. To calculate glycemic load, you multiply the grams of carbohydrate in a serving of food by that food’s glycemic index. This is an important differentiation as carrots, which have a high glycemic, index, but are low in carbohydrates, giving them a relatively low glycemic load. For example, a carrot has a GI of 131 and 4 grams of carbohydrates so its GL is (1.31 X 4) 5. A mashed potato has a GI of 104 and 37 grams of carbohydrates, so its GL is (1.04 x 37) 38. As in the glycemic index ranking, the higher the glycemic load, the greater the expected elevation in blood glucose and in the stimulation of insulin. On the other hand, low glycemic index/load diets improve insulin resistance and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In choosing carbs, go with those that are low glycemic load foods.

The association between protein intake and a trimmer waist was confirmed in a study published in the Journal of Nutrition.(8) Individuals consuming more protein instead of carbohydrate were associated with less abdominal obesity independent of age, sex, height, smoking, physical activity, intakes of alcohol and other factors. In their conclusion the authors wrote: “Substituting a modest amount of protein for carbohydrate may reduce abdominal obesity.” Overall, the research indicates that higher protein intake can benefit weight and fat loss in 4 ways…

1. Increased satiety from higher protein meals

2. Increased thermic effect of higher protein meals *(see below)

3. Higher conjugated linoleic acid in the diet
(from beef and dairy-see supplement review below)

4. Increased insulin sensitivity from a higher protein diet and an improved resting metabolic rate

* Protein also increases your metabolic rate. The effect foods have on your metabolic rate, your metabolism, is referred to as a “thermic effect”. The “thermic effect of food” is thus used to describe the energy expended by our bodies in processing foods. Protein requires the greatest expenditure of energy and therefore has the highest thermic effect. You burn more calories consuming and digesting protein than fat or carbs. Higher protein and lower carb food intake is also associated with a more lasting benefit in keeping the fat and weight off. More protein in your diet will leave you more satisfied with less calories-especially important if you are weight loss resistant as research indicates that even insulin resistant diabetics have better long term success in losing weight and sticking to a diet with more protein.

Here are 3 simple tips to overcome weight loss resistance:

1. Eat at least half your body weight in grams of protein daily. An easy way to increase your daily protein intake is through a high quality whey protein. Whey gives multiple health benefits, including immune enhancement if it is not overly processed whey. Whey is naturally rich in immune factors that are easily damaged in processing. Even a high speed blending of whey is not recommended. Gently blend it in at low speed at the end of putting together your smoothie or shake concoction if that is how you prefer to take your whey protein. Some research indicates that whey is superior to meat as a protein source, for enhancing insulin sensitivity.(9)

2. Sharply reduce processed carbohydrates (i.e. pastries and foods made from white flour). Eliminate sugars from your diet-cut the juice! Remember these foods and snacks, are usually very high glycemic index/load foods, and should be eaten occasionally as a treat only.

3. Eat as many vegetables as you can with every meal-at least five servings of vegetables per day. Stick to low glycemic fruits like berries, especially if you have that belly fat. Too much fruit, especially fruits high on the glycemic index/load, are a source of too much sugar for individuals with insulin resistance.

Dedicate yourself to making these dietary changes, and you’ll lose the weight and the fat much easier.

Finally, don’t be fat phobic. If you are weight loss resistant, your metabolism will benefit from a good supply of a wide range of fats-omega 3s, 6s, and 9s. You only need to exercise some caution with too much saturated fat. Most of the studies looking at the benefits of a higher protein diet on weight and fat loss indicate that the combination of higher protein, lower saturated fat, and low refined carbohydrate diets, was the most successful combination. Shoot for a diet rich in monounsaturated, omega 9 fats like olive oil and avocado that will stimulate fat loss. For a more detailed read on this, pick up Ron Rosedale’s book on Leptin Resistance. Research now indicates that fish oil, rich in omega 3s, contributes to weight and fat loss in insulin resistance.(10)

Fat Reducing Supplements

The marketplace is rife with supplements that offer weight and fat reduction benefits. Some have little research that backs their claims, but many others have sufficient science backing their benefits for increasing fat metabolism, moderating cravings, regulating blood sugar levels, and improving insulin sensitivity.
“Fat burning” supplements are a highly sought out commodity. A review of the top sellers on the Internet reveals a lot of short-term hype and promise, without the scientific validation and safety assurance for long-term results. Fat and carb blockers can also block important nutrients. Appetite suppressants can lead to unhealthy dietary habits and restrictive calorie intake that slows your metabolism. One product was rumored to be close to being removed from the marketplace due to unsafe ingredients. The truth is that there is not any substitute for a fat and weight loss program that includes exercise, diet and lifestyle changes, and safe supplementation with supplements that have a fair amount of scientific scrutiny for effectiveness and safety. Here are my top choices that are safe and effective, with a brief description of each, for supplementation that will help keep you leaner and meaner.

Helps With Fat Metabolism

1. Carnitine

L-Carnitine (levocarnitine) is a vitamin like compound that is classified as an amino acid. Red meat and dairy products are the primary sources of carnitine. One of carnitine’s benefits is in transporting fats into your cells energy factories, the mitochondria, to be burned as fuel. While carnitine’s role in fat metabolism has been well known for many years, and would alone warrant recommending it for fat burning, there recently there has been an emergence of carnitine research in diabetes and insulin resistance syndrome (Metabolic Syndrome). Carnitine helps you burn fat in energy metabolism, improves blood sugar metabolism and alleviates insulin resistance.(11) One study of obese pre-menopausal women evaluated the effects of exercise, diet (30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbohydrate) and carnitine supplementation on a weight loss program. Moderate increases in physical activity, a lower calorie/high protein diet and carnitine, lowered leptin levels by 5.9% as well reversing insulin resistance in 7 out of 8 participants diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome in the group of 70 subjects.(12) This study exemplifies the optimum benefit of an integrated weight loss program that brings together diet, lifestyle and supplementation.
Acetyl-l-Carnitine (ALCAR)-an acetylated (metabolized) version of carnitine, also has demonstrated benefits in reducing leptin resistance. (13)
For more information on carnitine, please read my article on carnitine, “Carnitine-Can Do For Energy!” on the use of supplemental carnitine in energy optimization.

Green Tea-EGCg

The benefits of green tea in fat burning (fat oxidation) and in raising energy expenditure (number of calories burned) are well documented.(14) EGCg is a powerful antioxidant and modulator of inflammation, making it an ideal supplement for insulin resistant syndromes. The magic of green tea is due to its polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants linked to numerous health benefits, including insulin resistance and reducing leptin levels. Studies with green tea polyphenols (EGCg) lowers blood sugar levels(14), and enhances insulin sensitivity.(15)
Note, that there is evidence that demonstrates the metabolic enhancing effectiveness of EGCg independent of any caffeine in green tea or green tea/EGCg supplements. There is also evidence that indicates that caffeine may enhance the thermogenic* benefits of green tea/EGCg.(16)

*(thermogenesis generates heat, increasing metabolism and the “burning” of stored fat into energy)

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

CLA is found naturally in protein-rich dietary sources such as meat and dairy products and is available in supplements as well. The research on CLA and its positive impact on insulin resistance, and obesity, make it an ideal supplement to integrate into a weight loss resistant program. In a host of studies, CLA has shown to decrease fat stores, increase lean body mass, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides, reduces inflammation and insulin resistance and lowers leptin levels. More recent research indicates that there may be a synergistic benefit in combining CLA with chromium and exercise.(17-18)
Look for CLA with the trademark of Clarinol or Tonalin for a guarantee that you are getting the same ratio of CLA fats that the research is based on.

Garcinia cambogia- Hydroxycitrate (HCA)

Hydroxycitric acid (HCA), also referred to as hydroxycitrate, is an active ingredient that is extracted from the rind of Garcinia cambogia, an exotic fruit native to South India and Southeast Asia. Some studies have demonstrated that effectiveness of HCA in blocking an enzyme (ATP citrate lyase) that converts carbs and fats from foods, into fats in the liver, which results in less fat cell build up.(19) Another benefit of HCA in weight loss, is in restricting appetite. HCA’S control of appetite is facilitated by the conversion of carbs into glycogen, the storage form of starches in our body, which results in satiety-feeling full from a meal.
HCA also seems to enhance insulin function and leptin levels. In one animal study, mice given HCA had lower insulin and leptin levels after a loading of a sucrose solution for 4 weeks.(20) More studies are needed to establish a clear benefit on insulin function.
Unlike many commonly used diet ingredients, hydroxycitric acid is not a central nervous stimulant, and will not lead to side effects such as insomnia, nervousness, depression, hypertension, rapid heart rate, addiction, or withdrawal symptoms. HCA, is an ideal component to any weight and fat loss protocol or formula with sufficient research to warrant it’s safety and effectiveness.

Helps With Sugar Metabolism

Chromium

Chromium is an essential nutrient in the metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Chromium also helps insulin metabolize fat, turn protein into muscle and convert sugar into energy.
The benefit of chromium in insulin resistance has been controversial. However, research now demonstrates that chromium supplementation (1,000 mcg./day) enhanced insulin sensitivity in subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus.(22) Other research supports chromium’s supplementation benefits in attenuating body weight gain and visceral fat accumulation in diabetics taking medication (sulfonylureas).(23)
The niacin-bound form of chromium is known to be more bioavailable and biologically active that other known forms.(24)

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA), a potent antioxidant, has been shown in numerous human and animal trials to increase insulin sensitivity. As the cells of the body become more insulin sensitive, more glucose (blood sugar) is taken up into muscle cells as opposed to the extra glucose in the bloodstream being shuttled into fat cells.
ALA is an important cofactor in carbohydrate and energy metabolism as it helps to convert carbohydrates to energy at the cellular level. The more efficiently you burn carbohydrates, the steadier your levels of blood sugar will be.

Helps With Cravings

5HTP

5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is a precursor to an important neurotransmitter (brain chemical) in the brain, serotonin. Serotonin is a vital brain chemical that influences food cravings and obesity. Serotonin deficiency is also associated with diabetes and insulin resistance.
Evaluating for these brain chemical imbalances and providing the precursors to their synthesis as in the case of 5 HTP and serotonin, can be a crucial link to moderating some of the sugar and carbohydrate cravings common in individuals with weight gain and obesity.
In one clinical study, patients received either 5-HTP or placebo for two weeks. Patients that were given 5-HTP, significantly decreased their caloric intake by reducing carbohydrate and fat with subsequent decrease in their body weight.(24) The results of this study indicate that 5-HTP may be beneficial for type II diabetics who have problems with weight management and eating behavior.

Tyrosine

Tyrosine, like 5HTP, is an amino acid that serves as the precursor, the raw material, for many important brain chemicals that are associated with moods and cravings. The “feel good” neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine have a powerful influence on eating behaviors and cravings and are both dependent on tyrosine for their synthesis.
Tyrosine is also an important cofactor for thyroid hormones.(25) The thyroid gland, combines iodine with tyrosine, and then converts the iodine/tyrosine precursors into thyroid hormones (T3,T4). Since the adequate levels of thyroid hormones are key to a healthy metabolism, insufficient levels of thyroid hormones are potentially a factor in weight gain and difficulty with weight loss, making tyrosine and iodine, targets for evaluation of deficiency.
Tyrosine, like 5HTP, should only be taken under the guidance of an experienced practitioner. Too much of either nutrient can lead to an excess of the neurotransmitters mentioned above, with unpleasant side effects (anxiety, nervousness, irritability).

Fiber

The benefits of fiber rich foods and supplemental fiber are numerous. Why add fiber to one’s diet? The typical American diet includes about 14 grams of fiber a day or less. The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for fiber issued by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences Research Council, recommends that women 19 to 50 years of age ingest 26 grams of fiber/day, while men in the same age category should have 38 grams of fiber/day. Slightly lower levels were recommended for individuals of both genders over 50. I recommend that my clients shoot for at least 40 grams/day.
Fiber contributes to weight loss in a number of ways. Supplemental fiber promotes regularity and a healthy intestinal ecology. One of the keys to weight loss, is keeping your gut healthy and optimizing regularity. Fiber binds to fat and toxins in the digestive tract, minimizing their recycling from the gut back to the liver (entero-hepatic circulation). The gut and liver is a vital pivot to weight loss resistance patterns and must not to be overlooked, as they can be an important piece of the weight loss resistance puzzle. (see below). does not contain any calories, and it will add to the feeling of a full stomach when taken with meals. Fiber rich foods are naturally low in their glycemic index/load. Fiber in foods, or supplemental fiber, slows down the absorption of sugars from carbs and promotes a more even blood sugar after meals. In studies lasting longer than six months, weight loss was more significant in people eating low-fat, high-fiber diets than in those eating diets low in fat only.(26)

Digestion and Liver Health

Cleansing the digestive tract and promoting healthy liver detoxification are important elements to optimum health and a successful weight and fat loss program. Recent research has shown that an imbalance of certain bacteria in the gut can contribute to obesity. In a study that looked at the relative populations of gut bacteria ( Firmicutes & Bacteroidetes) and it’s effect on obesity, it was revealed that Bacteroidetes is decreased in obese people by comparison with lean people.(27) Quoting another similar study with the same outcome, the authors reported that “Obesity is associated with changes in the relative abundance of the two dominant bacterial divisions, the Bacteroidetes and the Firmicutes”.(28) A more favorable proportion of Bacteroidetes was influenced by a low fat and low carb diet. Bottom line….an unfavorable balance of intestinal bacteria can lend to weight gain.
Consider a Digestive Wellness lab test to identify unhealthy bacterial or yeast overgrowth, a Bacteroidetes or Firmicutes imbalance, and many other important areas of digestive health that may be sabotaging your best laid plans for weight and fat loss.

The majority of “fat burning” occurs in skeletal muscle cells and the liver. Increased fat storage is now linked to a genetically influenced problem with liver enzymes and burning fats for energy metabolism. Animal studies indicate that it may be harder for certain people that genetically do not burn fat optimally, to use energy from the fats they eat, or from their own fat stores.(29) This metabolic defect involves decreased production of liver enzymes needed to burn fat and may help to explain why some people are prone to putting on weight and storing fat. When fat is not burned for energy metabolism, it is stored in fat tissue. The authors of the research stated ” The inherited propensity to gain weight when eating a high-fat diet appears to be due to a pre-existing limit on the ability to burn fat in the liver.” These genetic weaknesses with fat metabolism however, do not render one at the mercy of their genes. Optimizing fat burning for energy metabolism with targeted supplementation using proven enhancers of fat metabolism, can give you the edge you need for burning fat, and reducing your susceptibility to fat storage.

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Exercise

Exercise increases muscle and contributes to healthy bones. The better lean body tissue (muscle) to fat ratio you have, the more energy you will burn-even while at rest. Why? Muscle contains mitochondria-the body’s energy factories that produce and burn energy. Fat does not. Exercise increases the amount of muscle mitochondria and helps to keep them running strong. Optimizing your muscle mass through exercise, will give you the edge in raising your energy and fat burning metabolism and it will enhance insulin sensitivity.

To optimize your weight and fat loss, as well as to keep it off once you have made some gains, specific types of exercise can play a key role. Before the details, the main takeaway is that any exercise, if not extreme, will be good for you-especially in the maintenance phase of your health program. Once you have successfully dropped the weight and fat, regular and consistent exercise that you enjoy will help to keep it off and benefit you well into a ripe old age. Nothing new there-huh? Well, here is something that few understand. If you want to speed up fat loss exercising harder and much less, will render the best results. You do not have to spend endless hours in some exercise routine for maximum benefits. In fact, the sustained, longer and mild to moderate intensity workouts espoused by many who have not looked at the science of exercise, does not burn fat as efficiently. Sustained cardio-aerobic exercise that is too strenuous stimulates unhealthy levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to putting on belly fat. Most people are stressed out enough! Work, finances, traffic and everything else on your plate are stimulating stress responses and too much cortisol. Adding to it by beating yourself up in a workout and spiking cortisol, only adds more to the problem. Cortisol breaks your body down. Muscle is lost. On the other hand, high intensity for short periods of time-20 seconds to a minute, raises growth hormone levels and promotes fat loss.30) Please read more about the benefits and research of high intensity exercise in the Xiser section on the front page of my site. Of course, as with any exercise program, you need to consult with your doctor and professionals about what you may or may not be able to handle if you are overweight and out of shape. Nevertheless, even with baby steps, you can soon get to where your exercise is working for you, rather than against you.

The exercise conundrum… why is it that many individuals put in their best effort doing some sort of aerobic exercise-walking, running or jogging, rowing or something similar on the latest treadmill or stepper at the gym, yet after months of steady dedication they are left feeling that they are going nowhere fast? The pounds and fat are not dropping off like they hoped or thought they would. The short of it is that low intensity exercise is not as effective as high intensity exercise for losing fat. Referred to as steady-state cardio or aerobic exercise, low intensity exercise (your generic 30 to 60 min treadmill or stationary bike workout) is not very effective in burning fat compared to high intensity exercise. High intensity exercise, AKA burst exercising or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), is well documented to be much more effective for fat loss. In one study, there was a 9 time greater loss in subcutaneous fat in the group doing high intensity exercise than the steady state cardio group.(31) “Burst exercising” at 90% to 100% of max effort for 30 to 60 sec., burns the bodies stored sugar (glycogen), which shunts metabolism to burn fat for the next 36 hours to replace your bodies vital energy (glycogen) stores. Again, for the sake of brevity and for a more thorough overview, please visit the Xiser section of my site.

Tracking The Results

You want to measure and keep track of the fat you lose. Your bathroom scale will not do that for you. Tracking the loss of body weight and tracking fat loss are separate assessments. Keeping track of body fat loss will keep you on a successful weight management program for the long term.
There are three effective ways to measure if your fat loss program and fat burners are working. They include:

1. Bioelectrical Impedance Method-BIA (Body Fat Scales).

These scales use a low-level of electrical current is and the “impedance” is measured. BIA measures the impedance or resistance to the signal as it travels through the water that is found in muscle and fat. BIA “weighs” each of the different kinds of tissue in your body. It measures the amount of muscle and other lean tissue, like your organs, and the amount of fat and water in your body. You must be hydrated for reliable results. The amount of water in your body, your skin temperature and recent physical activity can affect the results. Look for a scale that can adjust for your fitness level. My favorites are the Tanita Body Composition scales.

2. Skin fold Calipers.

Skin-fold calipers are like tweezers that pinch and measure fat folds at various locations on the body. Calipers are used to hold on to your folds of skin at specific points on your body to measure the thickness. The drawback to skin fold measurement is that it takes a reasonably skilled person or a professional to perform this test. Definitely the cheapest and easiest method, and best used in combination with a BIA machine.

3. Hydrostatic Weighing

This consists of underwater weighing. It works by measuring the amount of water you displace when you first enter a tank filled with water. The ratio of your weight in and out of the water is used to determine your body’s overall density and body fat percentage. Considered the “Gold Standard”, it is however, inconvenient and not easily available.

Many gymnasiums now offer body fat testing and they use a combination of the above methods. While accuracy can vary on body fat testing, the key to evaluating your fat loss and being successful is consistency. Be consistent on all levels-diet, exercise, healthy supplementation, as well as and any fat loss testing method you use and you will reap big fat rewards in healthy weight and fat loss.

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