Most of us don’t just want to lose “weight”. We want to lose body fat.
This is what really concerns us, cosmetically speaking, at least.
With swimsuit/pool season already upon us, many of us are already in a panic about other people seeing us sporting our “winter coats”.
Body fat, referred to by scientists as adipose tissue, is the stuff that can hide shapely, defined muscles from view, make your bikini fit awkwardly (or not at all), put rolls on your belly, and so on.
To lose body fat and prevent it from finding you again, you must burn more of it than you store. When you achieve this scientists say you are in negative fat balance, and it can be a very positive thing.
Indeed, if you stay in negative fat balance long enough, then you will unquestionably lose body fat.
The supermarket is a great place to go for things that can increase body fat.
But it’s also home to some of nature’s most powerful tools for helping you lose it.
In this post I’m going to reveal 4 natural “fat burning secrets” that can immediately increase your calorie-burning rate, the first and most critical step toward achieving a negative fat balance and fitting into your swimsuit properly again.
1. Coffee (caffeine)
While the proportions may shift from moment to moment, your body always burns a mixture of three fuels: carbohydrate, fat and protein. So, if you increase your overall calorie-burning rate (a.k.a. metabolic rate), it’s pretty much guaranteed that your fat-burning rate will go up, bringing you that much closer to the negative fat balance territory where real slimming occurs.
About 75% of the caffeine consumed in the United States comes from coffee, a product that no supermarket can be considered complete without. Caffeine is recognized worldwide for its ability to enhance alertness and performance. However, it also displays fast-acting calorie-burning properties.
For instance, a study involving lean and overweight (obese) subjects reported that a single 100-mg dose of caffeine (equivalent to a little over 1 cup of coffee) was enough to raise their calorie-burning rate by up to 4% for 2.5 hours.
While a 4% increase may not seem like a big deal, it can turn into one. The scientists who conducted the study explain, “…if it is assumed that there is no compensatory increase in food intake, the increase [in calorie-burning rate] after caffeine would represent an energy deficit of 75-110 kcal/day. These changes may be small but over several months could accumulate and lead to substantial changes in body weight.”
But wait. Regular coffee drinkers know all too well that you can become tolerant to its energizing effects over time. Won’t the same thing happen here? Fortunately, evidence suggests that caffeine’s calorie-burning effects persist with repeated exposure.
Case in point: The subjects in the above study were all mild to moderate consumers of caffeine, consuming anywhere from 250-500 mg per day, equivalent to ~3-6 cups of coffee. Yet they all enjoyed a calorie-burning boost from the relatively small dose given to them.
2. Hot Pepper (capsaicin)
The waiter places a delicious meal in front of you that includes a spicy curry sauce. You devour it. For the next 30 minutes your calorie-burning rate is cruises at 10% above baseline, equivalent to burning an additional 129 Calories per day, or 27% of the caloric value of the entire meal.
Sounds too good to be true?
This fictitious scenario became a reality at Kyoto University in Japan when scientists gave young women a 481-Calorie meal consisting of a yellow curry sauce containing 3 mg of capsaicin.
Capsaicin is the compound responsible for the sharp, and for some of us, intolerably painful, sensation produced by eating hot red peppers. It’s also to blame for the beads of sweat that appear on your forehead as you do so. Thus, it may come as no surprise to learn that deep inside the body capsaicin can increase your calorie-burning rate by stimulating a process known as thermogenesis.
Thermogenesis essentially involves the release of calories in the form of heat. Once released, they can no longer be stored as body fat. In addition to increasing thermogenesis, capsaicin has been found to improve meal satiety (i.e. how full you feel after eating), thereby reducing your risk of overeating. In animal studies it has been reported to increase calorie-burning rate and reduce body fat.
Of course, the single most powerful way to increase your calorie-burning rate and get into negative fat balance is to exercise. Here, too, capsaicin may boost your slimming efforts. When scientists gave healthy subjects capsaicin an hour before performing low-intensity exercise (stationary cycling), they burned more fat.
The increase was impressive enough that the scientists suggested capsaicin be used as an adjunctive therapy in the treatment of elevated blood lipid levels and/or obesity.
Cinnamon often serves as a flavorful addition to carbohydrate-rich meals. How great is it, then, to learn that it may help “push” more of those carbohydrates into lean muscle and away from fat cells (adipose tissue)?
Most of the carbohydrate calories you eat are eventually converted into glucose (a.k.a. blood sugar). The hormone insulin helps direct glucose into your body’s cells, including muscle cells. The more sensitive your muscle cells are to insulin, the more efficiently they can scoop up glucose and store it for later use, such as providing your muscles with energy during exercise. All other things held constant, this leaves less glucose available for your fat cells, which might otherwise use it to make body fat.
Of the many plants studied to date, cinnamon has been reported to be among the most powerful in terms of its ability to enhance insulin sensitivity and keep blood glucose levels in check. When added to a carbohydrate-rich meal, it reduces the rise in blood glucose normally experienced afterwards.
While the effects on insulin sensitivity may take a couple of weeks to manifest, the improvements in blood glucose control appear virtually immediately.
So cinnamon increases insulin sensitivity and improves blood glucose regulation. Great. But, does this mean it can help you lose body fat more quickly? Believe me when I tell you, this ancient spice might help you do even more than that. Dr Richard Anderson (Ph.D.) at the US Department of Agriculture has conducted numerous studies on cinnamon.
He says that if cinnamon is consumed long-term, it can enhance lean body mass (this includes muscle) and reduce body fat, something he and his scientific colleagues demonstrated in a study performed in 2006.
4. Green Tea
White, green and black varieties of tea all contain caffeine (anywhere from ~14-61 mg per 6-8 oz serving). But it’s green tea that seems to get the most attention from scientists when it comes to burning fat. And its fat-burning effects are due to more than its caffeine content.
In one frequently cited study, healthy young men were given a green tea extract three times per day. Their 24-hour calorie-burning rate was 3.5% higher than that of subjects taking a placebo. This was equivalent to burning an additional 200 Calories per day -more than enough to eventually produce substantial weight loss and reductions in body fat.
Not only did green tea cause the subjects to burn more calories, but a larger proportion of the calories burned were determined by the scientists to have come from fat. That is, green tea was pushing them closer towards negative fat balance territory, if not pushing them right into it.
Based on the scientists’ comments (they used the term “remarkable” to describe green tea’s effects), they seemed to be quite impressed. Indeed, green tea’s thermogenic effects in this study were as powerful as much larger doses of caffeine.
Summary: The “Top 4” REAL Fat Burning Secrets
Nothing worthwhile comes without hard work, and that includes building a swimsuit-ready beach body. That’s why it’s important to make use of whatever tools nature has available to help you safely and effectively lose body fat and avoid regaining it.
There may be more “slimming secrets” out there waiting to be discovered, but the top 4 revealed here –coffee (caffeine), hot red pepper (capsaicin), cinnamon and green tea are among the most powerful studied to date. Individually, their calorie-burning effects are virtually immediate. Combined, they may greatly simplify even the most formidable of fat loss challenges.
Till’ next time, stay lean
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