Personally, I hate top ten lists. They typically tell you crap that you already know. For example, we all know that drinking more water is probably beneficial. But there is some utility to these lists, like if all you want to do is read the bold words, that’s probably enough. Unless you disagree, then please read my explanation and reasoning.
This won’t be all that scientific, but these are tactics that I have employed recently to get to 5-7% body fat. I know most of you probably don’t want to get down that low, but something that could take me from 10% to 8% would surely help someone go from 30% to 20%. Many of these pointers are kind of strange, but I assure you that they work pretty darn well, especially when employed together.
Top 10 ways to lose weight (really just body fat)
1. Wear tight clothes/no clothes when eating
Now I don’t mean being one of those people who looks like a ridiculous cartoon character because their pants don’t fit. No one likes muffin tops, NO ONE. Also, I’m not trying to sell you on some back to nature nudist commune.
However, I do mean wear tight clothes when you are eating. Often times we were loose shirts, or undue the top button on our pants, to make room for what you are about to eat. This is a great tactic if you want to overeat, but as far as losing weight goes it’s a no-no.
If you wear tight clothes, it makes you realize when you are starting to get bloated and if you don’t stop you’ll get super uncomfortable. All around that feeling just really blows, thus to dodge that discomfort . . . you just stop eating. Simple enough.
Also, if you take off your shirt it gets super hard to hold your stomach in whenever you’ve got a belly full of pasta (which you should avoid like the plague if you are trying to lose weight).
2. Don’t eat oatmeal or cereal ever (breakfast)
I’ve written about aspects of this before, but the “myth of healthy whole grains” bears repeating. Essentially, carbohydrates are processed in a way that causes an insulin spike, which is inevitably follow by a crash, called hypoglycemia. Also, your body has a hell of a time storing fat in the absences of these insulin spikes.
As a personal side note, I’ve experimented on myself by eating a super high calorie diet, which was also very low carbohydrate. I ate upwards of 5 thousand calories a day for two weeks mostly by drinking a lot of heavy whipping cream (8cups=3,312 Calories) along with a lot of nuts, eggs, cheese, and butter. Guess what, I gained no weight and it’s not because I was super active running marathons every day. I just didn’t eat anything that had a high portion of carbohydrates.
I’ve written before about how protein for breakfast seems to aid cognitive performance measures, keeps you fuller longer, and a lot of the energy is just burned off as heat by your body. Eat 6 whole eggs for breakfast everyday, and let me know if you didn’t lose any weight.
3. Take cold showers/don’t wear a jacket
A little known fact is that most of your metabolism is allocated to keeping your body heat up, thereby staving off death. I’m not going to lie though, this one does suck sometimes.
If you start your day with a shower, this is also a great way to wake up fast. I promise if you only turn on the cold water and dive in face first, you’ll be alive and awake enough to attack the day. I once employed this tactic for an entire summer. It was nice because it kept me cool in the summer heat, but it also aided in losing 5 pounds while not monitoring my diet in the least (I appeared to maintain all of my muscle mass too).
One year I refused to put on a jacket until the first day of winter. Now bear in mind that I do live in Texas; however, there were still some pretty cold nights getting into the 20’s and 30’s. One really cool (literally) benefit that I experienced was a modest weight loss of about 7 pounds in 1 months’ time. The greatest part about that was that I wasn’t trying to lose weight at all. I was actually eating tons of food, but the weight came off with ease.
4. Drink more coffee
Caffeine is a well know stimulant that increases fat oxidation (burning of fat for energy). Not to mention that it taste great and makes it so that I don’t snap and become a mass murderer every morning.
Of course, I do mean black coffee. The added calories from fat and sugar generally decrease the body composition and cognitive benefits that can be attained from regular coffee. However, I will say that coconut oil seems to be a really cool additive that actually increases your fat burning capacity. Essentially if you drink it black, you can put coconut oil in it or maybe some stevia without losing the general awesomeness that is COFFEE!
5. Sleep more
This one seems like a no brainer, but my reasoning is at least novel compared to the general health/fitness writing public. Personally, I’m not much of a fan of sleep. From my research, 7-9 hours doesn’t really seem that necessary, 4-6 is probably all that’s needed for maintaining cognitive capacity and maximal physical strength. However, it’s probably not optimal for fat loss.
The longer you sleep the longer you are in a state of (more or less) only burning fat as fuel. This is coupled with the more hours you sleep you aren’t eating French fries, unless you have some ridiculous disorder. Also, better sleep reduces cortisol levels which goes right into my next point.
6. Do a mini exercise session whenever you get stressed out
In this day and age, we have a lot of weird stressors that we don’t get to deal with, at least not immediately. Back when we were evolving stress was akin to seeing a bear, then running from that bear. You get away, climb up a tree, or kill the bear and the problem is solved. These days stress is more like, “I hate my boss/job/significant other/the government, but I can’t murder them because it’s immoral.” So, there is all this built up stress that never gets dealt with.
One way to “deal” with modern stress is to do just a little exercise. Now I don’t mean hope on the elliptical for 30 min every time you look in the mirror and “feel fat”. I mean when something makes you upset get down and see how many push-ups you can knock out in 20-30 seconds, or jump rope for a minute, or take a sledge hammer to your neighbors car…. Well maybe not that last one… unless you can get away with it.
Stress is also tied to cortisol levels. Cortisol, especially when chronically elevated, leads to excessive fat storage especially around the midsection (called android adiposity). That’s the fat that ends up killing you with heart disease.
7. Meditate/chill out
This ties in with the previous one, but I truly can’t stress enough the hell that stress and cortisol can put your body through. It often doesn’t take much more than just 5 min of “me time” and if you focused well enough you’ll feel better to deal with the day.
8. Exercise less
This point is quite counterintuitive, but stay with me. I find that people often use food as a reward from exercise and will often eat well above their needs and expenditure from an exercise session.
It’s time that people stopped viewing exercise as a viable tool to burn calories. The fact is that it just doesn’t burn that many compared to controlling (or reconfiguring your diet). Lets say a donut is about 300 Calories. On average, a person would have to run 3 or more miles to burn off the useless energy, and that’s if you only eat one. It’s far easier to just NOT EAT THE DAMN DONUT! Not to mention the more you exercise, the better or more efficient you get at it, so after a month of training you are no longer burning 100 Calories a mile, more like 70-80.
9. Brush your teeth
Here’s one of my favorites because it is so simple. Ever tried to eat breakfast immediately after brushing your teeth? If yes, then you know how terrible that can taste. So, I had the bright idea that if something taste bad I won’t eat it and I’ll thereby eat less.
I employ this tactic at night most often. Whenever I feel like I ought to not eat anymore for a night, I’ll just go to the bathroom and brush my teeth. You can does this essentially at anytime of day and the side effects include fresh breath, cleaner/whiter teeth, and modest amounts of weight loss. There’s not really a downside to this one.
10. Stop doing cardio
This one goes hand in hand with number 8, however it is much more specific and most assuredly the opposite of what most people think of when they try to lose weight.
How many people do you know say “I need to lose some weight” and then they go to the gym and hop on an elliptical? How many runners/joggers/walkers do you know that look essentially the same year round? If you answered a lot and a lot to these questions, there are some clear reasons why.
Chronic (a lot) of cardiovascular exercise makes you more efficient with energy both at rest and during exercise. How these mechanisms work takes more attention and I promise I will blog about this more in depth in the future, but for now please take my word for it if you actually want to lose some fat.
Essentially cardio makes you burn far fewer calories during exercise by both neural and biomolecular routes that make movement more efficient. Also, it inhibits thyroid hormones at rest (essentially hormones that regulate your metabolism).
I guarantee that dropping body fat is much easier without cardio. I’ve lost over 15 lbs and got down to 5-7% body fat without doing any, and I maintained pretty much all of my muscle mass, and didn’t starve.
Take home message
There are a lot of creative ways to aid in your weight loss goals, don’t be afraid to experiment or go against the norm. In fact, if you do the opposite of what the media and government tell you, you’ll probably be right 90% of the time.