The Fantastic Four.
Four Keys That Can Help You Go Lean!
It’s that time of year. The beginning of the year is always full of people trying to lose weight. Whether it’s, “this is the year I am finally going to get the weight off” or simply losing the few extra pounds gained during the holidays, there are a few things you can ingest that may help you reach your goal. Some are supplements, some are foods, but they are all important to maximize lipolysis. Lipolysis is the process in which our body breaks down stored fat for use as energy; or simply “fat burning.” That is the key, fat loss not weight loss. The goal should always be fat loss. Weight loss may and should come with fat loss, but simply focusing on weight loss can result in muscle loss and performance decreases.
Here we go with the usual disclaimer. Nothing, let me repeat that, nothing replaces or is more important than a solid diet and exercise plan. Without both of these, successful fat loss is not possible. The following are simply a few suggestions for things that may help or aide fat loss, but will not produce results on their own.
Caffeine is probably one of the most commonly ingested substances in the United States and by far the most popular supplement for fat loss. One of the biggest reasons for this popularity is that it works. There have been countless studies over the years demonstrating the effects of caffeine. But forget the research, people literally line up every morning and pay $6 a cup! There has to be something to it. Research shows that caffeine has a positive effect on energy expenditure, weight loss and body fat. This is caused by its effects on the central nervous system (CNS) and neuromuscular system. Caffeine acts on the CNS as an adenosine antagonist. It does this by obstructing or “blocking” the adenosine receptors in the brain. By blocking these receptors, alertness and focus are increased along with a boost in energy expenditure. The increased expenditure then results in increased calorie burning, and ultimately fat burning. While caffeine can have many different effects on the body, one of the most prominent is this increase in lipolysis. It should be noted that while caffeine is a great supplement for fat loss, everyone responds to caffeine differently. Some people are very sensitive to caffeine and it can cause jitters and anxiousness. Others experience very little adverse effects. If you don’t know how you respond, I suggest starting with smaller doses and gradually increasing dosages as necessary. Generally dosages will be between 100-300mg depending on tolerance and body size.
Many refer to forskolin as a new supplement, but it has actually been around for quite some time. However, it has recently made a resurgence, due to some new and promising research. New studies are suggesting that forskolin increases lean body mass and fat loss. Forskolin is a compound derived from the herb, Coleus forskohlii, and it stimulates an enzyme called adenylate cyclase, which increases cellular concentrations of cyclic adenosine monophosphate, or cAMP. A host of functions are aided by cAMP, namely thyroid hormone secretion and lipolysis (fat burning). However, cAMP’s main role in the human body is activation of protein kinases, specifically protein kinase A. Protein kinase A is involved in several biochemical processes, including the regulation of glycogen, sugar and lipid metabolism. It has also been linked to increasing protein synthesis and stimulating testosterone production. Basically, it mimics the effects of exercise and calorie restriction inside the body. Combine this with actual exercise and dieting and you have a huge boost towards your goal. Oh yeah, and it has also been shown to improve the ability of other “fat burning” supplements. Although more research is still needed to confirm these findings, the evidence thus far suggests forskolin may be real.
This may seem simple and it kind of is, but protein can play a huge role in weight loss and more importantly FAT loss. Most people think of protein simply as a purely muscle building compound and are unaware of its fat loss benefits. There really is no one reason for its fat loss benefits, but more a combination of few things working together. Protein actually has the highest TEF, or thermic effect of food, of all the macronutrients. This refers to the amount of energy required to digest and process protein. Basically, a high protein meal will require a larger portion of calories to digest and thus, fewer total calories. This leads us to another factor of protein, high satiety. Satiety refers to the feeling of fullness. Protein takes longer to digest and stays in the stomach for a longer time. This results in greater feelings of fullness and will thus lower the likeliness of overeating and avoid unnecessary snacking. Protein will also help preserve or even add muscle, and since more muscle mass directly leads to increased metabolism, this can cause further fat loss. While the mechanism may be a combination of things, one thing is certain. High protein diets lead to greater fat loss. A recent review of 24 different weight loss studies has shown that high protein diets had the greatest effect on weight loss among all reduced calorie diets. If you are dieting, make sure you are still keeping your protein intake high.
Avoiding metabolic interference
All too often we are looking for all the ways and secrets to “boost” or increase fat burning. However, we tend to overlook all the little things that may be inhibiting or decreasing fat burning. All of this metabolic interference can and will have a greater impact on lipolysis then any supplement or “boost” ever could. Cleaning up this interference is a necessity to maximize fat loss. So, what causes this interference? Well much like the NFL, nowadays just about everything is considered interference. But there are some very common culprits. The first is hydration. Water makes up roughly 70% of the body and is involved in just about every process inside the body. Without adequate hydration, nonessential processes get impaired, slowed down, or even turned off. And despite your feelings on the subject, your body doesn’t exactly consider fat burning essential. Make sure you’re consuming enough water. The next culprit is vitamin and mineral deficiencies. These essential micronutrients are crucial for regulating homeostasis and ensuring optimal functioning. Deficiencies can lead to hormonal imbalances as well as metabolic imbalances. These can make fat loss difficult and in extreme cases, almost impossible. Vitamin and mineral intake also tends to be lower during dieting due to reduced caloric intake. I highly suggest supplementing with a high quality multivitamin/mineral to protect against any deficits. Inflammation is another component notorious for metabolic interference. While acute inflammation is a common and necessary response to injury, chronic internal inflammation is causes by prolonged repeated stressors. While some degree of internal inflammation will almost always be present, higher levels can interfere with multiple processes inside the body. Think of it as “excess baggage” getting in the way of everything and slowing everything down. To keep the body and metabolism functioning efficiently, we must keep inflammation as low as possible. A healthy diet and proper hydration play a big role, but fish oil has been shown to be a great supplement to support keeping inflammation under control. I suggest taking 1-2 grams daily. Most of the time we can give ourselves quite the metabolic enhancement just by ensuring our metabolism is running efficiently. Don’t get caught up chasing “boosts” until you have the basics under control.
Start your year off right by getting on the right track towards your goal. Remember, a sound diet and training plan are the first and most critical steps. Once you have those in place, take advantage of the items above to give yourself that extra boost. Don’t forget fat loss over weight loss, we are performance athletes not cosmetic athletes. Train hard.