By Jonathan Bailor
In part one of this article, we covered why the traditional calorie counting approach to weight loss fails for more than 95 percent of us. Now let’s cover the simple scientific alternative: Enabling our body to automatically balance calories for us around a slimmer set-point.
To get started, it sounds like I’m saying that our body can keep us slimmer much like it currently keeps us heavier, and that sounds too good to be true, right? Maybe not. We all know people who eat a lot and exercise a little and stay slim. They’re called naturally thin people, and they prove that the human body is capable of keeping us slim as reliably as it keeps us heavy. So the question is not: “Can the body burn fat automatically?” The question is: “How do we get our body to burn fat automatically like a naturally thin person?” Science shows us that the answer is surprisingly simple.
How Burning Fat Is Like Running Fast
Before we dig into the specifics of getting our bodies to work more like a naturally thin person’s body, let’s quickly set expectations by comparing our ability to burn fat with our ability to run fast. Everyone can run faster if they put a little effort in, but only a few of us will achieve world-class results no matter how much effort we put in. Why? Our genetics play a big role in how fast we are. Back to burning fat. Everyone can be slimmer if they put a little effort in, but only a few of us will achieve world-class results no matter how much effort we put in. Why? Our genetics play a big role in how slim we are.
The Good and Bad News of Burning Body Fat
So there’s good news and bad news. Let’s start with the bad news. For all intents and purposes we’re as likely to look like a fitness magazine cover model as we are to get on the cover of Sports Illustrated. On to the good news. I used the term “a little effort” earlier on purpose. Once we have access to simple and proven science instead of complex and profit-driven myths, getting and staying as slim as our genetics allow is much easier than we’ve been lead to believe.
For example, here’s are five simple steps to enable your body to work more like the body of a naturally thin person:
Step 1: Eat More—But Smarter
Each enough of the following vegetables, proteins, and fats, that you are too full for starches and sweets. To do this at the grocery store, simply avoid the middle aisles and only buy things that need to be refrigerated or frozen and contain three or less ingredients. To do this eating out, tell your server “Hold the starch, double the veggies.” To do this at home, enjoy a double serving of a protein-based main dish and a triple serving of a non-starchy vegetable side.
Enjoy many non-starchy vegetables (vegetables you can eat raw and generally find in salads):
- Spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, any green leafy vegetable
Nutrient dense proteins:
- Any seafood
- Organ meats/sweet breads
- Grass fed beef
- Free range poultry, eggs
- Lean conventional beef
- Lean conventional poultry
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
Whole food natural fats:
Step 2: Exercise Less—But Smarter
Instead of spending hours exercising more, spend minutes exercising with more resistance. Try high-intensity interval training on low-impact “cardio” machines like stationary bikes. Do heavy resistance training with your largest muscle groups (legs, back, and chest). Do not worry about building bulky muscles. You are more likely to accidentally burn too much fat than you are to accidentally build too much muscle. Unless you naturally have bulky muscles, you won’t get bulky without steroids. I promise.
Step 3: More Water, Less Everything Else
If you are not drinking at least 128 ounces of water or unsweetened tea (ideally green or white), you are not burning as much fat or feeling as good as you could be. Also, the easiest way to sabotage your health and fitness efforts is to drink calories. Steer clear of any and all beverages that contain calories. This includes not just soda, but also juice, energy drinks, “fancy” coffee, flavored milk, etc. If you want to keep things simple and stay slim, say no to liquid calories.
Step 4: Sleep More
If you are not getting at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, your fat loss efforts and overall health will suffer. I’m not an expert in improving sleep quality, but there are many free resources on the web.
Step 5: Stress Less
Stress is toxic. The more of it in your life the sicker and heavier you will be. Again, I’m not a stress relief expert, but free internet resources abound.
Slim is Simple
That’s it. It’s not complex. It can’t be. About 90 percent of us avoided obesity and more than 99 percent of us avoided diabetes before we knew what a calorie was let alone counted them. And keeping the common sense rolling, besides rapidly rising obesity and diabetes rates, what are other common trends we’ve seen over the past 40 years?
- More starches and sweets, less non-starchy vegetables, nutrient dense proteins, and whole food natural fats.
- More aerobics, less intense physical activity.
- More liquid calories, less water.
- Less sleep.
- More stress.
Compare our five steps to these five trends. If we simply do what we did before we became sick and heavy we will be slim and healthy without thinking about calories ever again.
Jonathan Bailor is the author of The Smarter Science of Slim which simplifies the analysis of over 1,100 scientific studies to provide a proven lifestyle for lasting wellness by focusing on the quality of food and exercise and then eating more and exercising less – but smarter. The Smarter Science of Slim is endorsed by the world-wide scientific community including top doctors at the Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, and UCLA, and approved as curriculum for registered dieticians (RDs) by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly The American Dietetic Association).