For this post, I am going outside the bounds of Marketing. I have been geeking out about this for the last few years, so here is a culmination of years of research into something digestible and simple. I am no doctor or expert so use at your own risk, but from the research I have done, the following is my understanding.
First off, fat is not lost in the gym. It is lost in the kitchen. You don’t need to work out to do it. The following is also not a lifestyle change. Both of those are a good idea, but the following should be considered a CLEANSE more than a diet or lifestyle change. This is a quick and dirty path to lose unwanted fat. Pull this guide out anytime you want to blast a few pounds.
You’ll also notice that this is not titled WEIGHT Loss Cleanse. Losing weight often equates to losing muscle or water weight. Unless you have a solid understanding of how fat is lost, chances are that is not what you are losing. Of course losing fat is the goal.
How does the human body lose fat?
Losing fat, could probably be better termed, burning fat. Or better yet: consuming fat. Fat is simply stored energy, like a battery. So of course, our bodies were designed with a metabolic function that when switched on, consumes that stored fat for cellular energy. This function is called ketosis. The only way to burn fat is to trigger ketosis. The body switches to this automatically when it doesn’t have a more direct source of cellular energy: food. Think of your body like a hybrid car. When the battery runs out, it switches to gas. When you don’t have metabolic glucose, your body switches to ketones.
Our cells require two things to function. Protein and energy. Energy comes from either dietary glucose or from ketone bodies. Dietary glucose is simply carbohydrates. That could mean Sugar, Cake, Fruit, Bread, EVEN vegetables. Ethanol (Alcohol) isn’t a carbohydrate, but it behaves identically to fructose, the worst carbohydrate. So the rule is, if it isn’t a protein or a fat — it is a carbohydrate.
This doesn’t mean carbohydrates are evil. We simply have to understand their function: providing cellular energy. The problem is not the function, it is that we often are already carrying around plenty of stored cellular energy. The trouble is that we consistently choose to get that energy from our diet instead of using what we already have. When we eat carbohydrates and we already have an excess, you can guess what happens. Insulin (the storage hormone) stores it in fat cells. Everything works perfectly as designed. Except for our habits.
So losing fat requires both triggering ketosis … but also controlling insulin.
Think of it this way: insulin is a hoarder. And carbohydrates are what are being hoarded. If we stop bringing in junk, there is nothing to hoard. But breaking that hoarding obsession is important too.
Whereas ketosis prescribes not eating carbs, reducing insulin means suprressing the insulin response. Insulin spikes are strongest with carbohydrates, but insulin also elevates any time we eat. So suppressing that response is done most easily with time restricted eating AKA intermittent fasting. Time restricted eating means that we have long periods where our insulin levels drop before eating again. This is opposite to our habits of eating constantly any time we think we are hungry. The truth is that this isn’t real hunger: it is a drop in insulin. Our bodies are craving another hit of that sweet sweet insulin.
With this understanding, the following is a recipe for VERY rapid, yet SAFE, fat loss. It is normal to see loss of more than one pound of weight per day. It isn’t easy, but it WORKS FAST.
PREPARATION This step is optional. If you haven't done an extended fast before, start here. First TRY time restricted eating. Try a 16H/8H fast. This means that all caloric intake happens in an 8H window. Eg. don't eat between 7pm and 11am. Try eliminating carbs entirely as you do this. Note, your body will freak out. A detox period is normal (see below). You may come to realize you are addicted to insulin. Once you break that addiction, you will be shocked how easy it is to go without food. As soon as you are able to push harder: try LEVEL 1.
LEVEL 1 Monday to Friday Eat ONE MEAL A DAY (OMAD). You may have water, black coffee or tea, but no calories outside of a one hour window. For your meal, eat ONLY protein. You can have as much of it as you can stomach, but do not eat ANY carbohydrates or alcohol.
Weekend Eat normally. 3 meals. No caloric restriction. Limiting carbs is generally a good idea, but not required.
LEVEL 2 Monday to Friday If you can, increase your time restriction to one meal every 48 hours. Again, water, black coffee and tea is ok. But only do one meal every 48H. Only eat protein for your meals. As much as you want. This will likely look like: Tuesday dinner, Thursday dinner. Weekend Saturday morning you are off the clock. Eat normally for the weekend then start again Monday.
The more fat we have to lose, the more dramatic the results. Don’t be surprised at losing 1lb a day.
You can repeat this pattern as long as you feel you want to continue burning fat. Or start and stop as you need to. This is designed to work as long as you require without plateauing. Once you are happy with your results, an easy 16/8 low carb lifestyle will help you maintain your results.
Protein cannot be stored. So it cannot make us fat. It is used quickly to synthesize proteins for cells. If we are at capacity, guess what happens: the meat sweats. They’re real. Thermogenesis is triggered when we have an excess of protein in our system. The extra is literally burned away. But these levels are hard to get to. The body is happy to use 1g of protein per lb of body weight for protein synthesis if we are able to deliver it. That is a LOT of protein.
Fat doesn’t make you fat. The carbs do. Fat is basically a neutral. And we don’t generally eat enough for it to matter much. Fat also is where the flavor hides, so don’t be afraid of it!
New Normal. Our body wants to find homeostasis: something normal where it can settle in. This means that if we continue eating an extreme caloric restriction, our body will eventually adapt to that and will stop losing fat. So keeping our body guessing is essential for efficacy. If we do this pattern without eating piles of protein (a caloric restriction) for longer than 10 or 11 days we are likely to stop losing fat. That’s why going back to normal eating habits on the weekend allows a reset and then allows fat loss to continue the following week.
Addiction. We are addicted to insulin. Our bodies will hate going long periods without food. Your body is likely to have a cortisol (stress) response to your time restricted eating. You might have a hard time sleeping or have a weird feeling of adrenaline. You might want to take a sleep-aid as your body adjusts.
Hydration. A low carb diet also messes with cellular hydration. We retain 2-3g of water for every gram of carb we eat! This is just to say expect a headache while your body adapts to very different hydration levels. Take an Advil and drink lots of water.
Fast for Health. Think of this as a drug detox. It basically is. Most of us eating 3 meals a day are addicted to insulin. We never allow insulin levels to drop. But fasting it is actually one of the healthiest things our bodies can do. Fasting has been practiced safely for religious reasons for thousands of years. It is not only safe, but the truest ‘cleanse’ our bodies can do. Our bodies go into recycling mode (Google Autophagy), getting rid of cellular junk. The most recent research even suggests that Autophagy could be a powerful cancer prevention measure! Fasting actually up-regulates HGH, which protects or even increases muscle mass! You may need to work up to the longer fasts described here, but don’t drag it out too long. You can do it!
Don’t Cheat. The above plan is hard because of our insulin addiction. That is why we might not feel like we ate a meal if we skip the carbs. It isn’t that cheating is so evil, just realize that the shot of insulin from eating carbs midweek resets your ketosis clock. You seriously curtail your results. If you MUST cheat, better to extend your eating window than eat carbs: make some eggs if dinner didn’t satisfy you. Be disciplined and you will see more results. I have been Intermittent Fasting for 2 years, but the last time I followed this plan strictly, I still dropped 10lbs in 1 week. Discipline counts.
Plan ahead. Food is exceedingly social, even within the family. So plan ahead. Inform your family of your plan, or better yet — do it together. This will far reduce temptation. In the meantime, this cleanse gives you weekends off, so you don’t feel like a social pariah.
Be Skeptical. Much of what we assume to be true about a healthy diet has been proven wrong. Fat does not make you fat. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, while true — was a Kellogg’s tagline to sell breakfast cereal. The ‘balanced diet’ food pyramid was developed by the US department of agriculture (USDA) to promote eating grains; it would be healthier if the pyramid were flipped upside down! Vitamins and minerals are far more bioavailable in meat than vegetables (though supplementing vitamin C is beneficial). The most recent research claims that for healthy people, Carbohydrates are not an essential part of a diet at all! (Macronutrients)
While exercising is important, and a 16:8 fasting pattern is very healthy as a lifestyle (to control insulin), the above is a cleanse. Pull it out when you want to cut a few pounds. But most importantly, I hope this has given you a new understanding of how our bodies are designed. Putting that to work will give you a powerful sense of control.