Are you looking to lose weight? I’m going to provide you with 15 tips to shed pounds. Along the way, you'll learn how to beat high cortisol, cravings, sedentary living, and even stop overdoing your workouts, so you burn fat in a healthy way that supports the body you want.
Let's dive right in.
Factor # 1: Cortisol & Stress
When you are stressed, you release bodily hormones like cortisol that switch on important functions like high blood pressure and faster decision-making abilities while hindering other functions, such as immunity, food digestion, and protein creation. This is actually useful while managing an acute stressor (like a looming deadline or a physical race), but it restricts your ability to lose weight.
Cortisol decreases insulin saecretion, inhibiting glucose uptake, and also interferes with insulin-signaling to muscle tissue. This means that ongoing, chronic stress causes insulin resistance, leading to weight loss resistance, inflammation, and dyslipidemia (elevated blood fat and cholesterol levels), along with high blood pressure.
Even slim, hard-charging, high-achieving guys, who regulate their body by following many factors listed in this article still suffer from some belly fat. But by learning to reduce stress and cortisol, they’ll see that the fat will often vanish.
Some examples of stress factors are:
- The loss of someone you love
- Relationship problems and sexual disappointments
- End of employment
- School stress or pressure
- Emotions like boredom, food cravings, rage, concern, anxiety, and depression
- Environmental & food contaminants
- Excessive warmth, cold, or even humidity
- Altitude or poor air availability (chest breathing)
- Poorly made, tight, or awkward garments or shoes
- The pressure to be ‘on’ at all times and maintain a strong image on social networks
- Lack of emotional support from others
One method to understand if you are stressed is through your HRV (heart rate variability). This is the time interval between heartbeats, which is an effective indicator to track the health of your nervous system and recovery status. HRV is related to your autonomic nervous system (ANS), which is comprised of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). The higher your HRV the more likely you’ve tapped into your parasympathetic system and is an indication of low stress and good recovery.
Without adequate amounts of rest, the body can not keep a consistent and healthy heartbeat. This points to stress as a potential problem, especially when the values are consistently low. By understanding your HRV, you know when you’re undergoing stress, at which point the body produces too much cortisol, and you gain weight.
Low HRV often means you have a poor diet, as well as other factors like poor breathing technique, the stress in your work or personal life, working out too much, unhealthy surrounding air, too much artificial lighting, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth pollution, and unhealthy water. When addressed, you can hit an HRV of 70-80 (when not undergoing heavy workouts).
Factor #2: Sleep
In the US, 35% of the population get enough sleep of seven to nine hours, while others get less than 6 hrs. This harms our bodies and weakens our internal systems, including our immune system, leading to more significant risks for illness and neurodegeneration.
Sleeping for five hours or less leads to insulin resistance and high glycemic fluctuation that can lead to serious medical issues like diabetes, weight gain, and hunger. It raises cortisol, which reduces the ability to handle glucose effectively. It also reduces leptin and boosts appetite. This means you want to eat more sugar and oil-heavy foods, leading to you filling up your plate more often.
Factor #3: Snacking
Many people recommend snacking heavily before an intense workout because the body is supposed to convert the food into muscle, but heavy snacks also lead to more fat on the body unless you are consistently workout.
The idea that six small meals a day will help you lose weight just isn't real. It’s because when you constantly eat, your glycemic variability increases (fluctuations in blood glucose levels), canceling out any of the anti-aging or fasting results you’ve achieved. It turns out that three meals a day are sufficient. More doesn't make a difference. If you eat just three meals in a time-restricted feeding window, you get anti-aging benefits like growth hormone creation and accelerated fat burning. In addition, when you’re practicing time-restricted eating, your blood sugar won’t constantly spike keeping you out of sugar-burning mode, and allowing you to tap into stored body fat as a fuel source. It turns out that when it comes to meals, less may be better.
Quickly, let’s debunk the fear of going into starvation mode by not eating enough. It can take as long as four weeks of extreme caloric restriction, or 3 full days of fasting. But in the short-term, intermittent fasting for 12 to 16 hours per day will boost your metabolism by increasing norepinephrine, which tells fat cells to start breaking down. This is especially true if you’re not sedentary. So don't eat less, just don't eat throughout the day.
Another snacking surprise is that you don't need protein or carbs after a workout. The theory is this technique helps you to achieve better muscle gains and repair body tissue while boosting the amount of oxygen in the muscles. But each study that analyzed the benefits of post-workout snacking was limited to those who performed exhaustive exercise for roughly 1.5-2hrs while in a fasted state.
Unless you are a pro athlete and training in the offseason for serious weight or muscle gains, any food at any point before exercising is enough. You will still have ample amino acids and carbs available from a meal roughly five or six hours before your workout. And waiting a few hours after the workout may improve growth hormone and even your testosterone levels!
Factor # 4: Not Moving Enough
Whether I am actually standing up, lunging, kneeling, sitting, stretching, or doing any other movements, I pause every 30 to 50 minutes for a 2 to 5-minute breather of activities like kettlebell swings, a simple wander up the stairways, or even a handful of pushups or burpees.
I do this because weight management involves an expenditure of energy higher than the consumption of energy from the food you eat.
The harsh truth is that for a lot of folks, sitting for eight hours a day doesn't cancel out morning meals, lunch, dinner, and snack foods, in spite of any sort of physical exercise performed at the starting point or end of the day. Even in people that exercise, regular non-active behavior is linked with metabolic syndrome (MS), raised risk of obesity, type 2 diabetic issues, heart illness, and premature death.
When you are regularly inactive for extended periods of time, your blood sugar levels inconsistently fluctuate because of reduced body movements which result in undesirable changes in insulin-signaling, sugar transport, and lipoprotein lipase; the primary enzyme in charge of malfunctioning excess fats.
Move a lot more, specifically when you go to work, even if you work in a standard cubicle workplace atmosphere. Sneak out to do squats or stairwell climbs when you can.
Studies show that sedentary lifestyles and insulin resistance are only partially related to the amount of time you are physically active. That means you aren't doing your body any favors if you’re sitting for prolonged periods and workout heavily at the end of the day. It can even lead to heart problems caused by forcing blood through bent blood vessels after prolonged sitting.
In short, low-level physical activity throughout the day is necessary in order to lose weight, even when you are working out.
Factor # 5: Too Much Exercise
Yes, you won't shed the weight when you stop exercising, but you also keep and even gain weight when you do too much. This may be a surprise and not such good news, especially for those in the Crossfit world, and those living highly active lifestyles.
It turns out working out too much elevates cortisol levels and increases inflammation, leading to hormonal dysregulation and too much cortisol.
When you are training for strength, weights and resistance training tear muscle fibers, so your body can build muscle mass; but in order to do this, you have to exhaust your muscles to see results. However, doing it every day is a problem. Research shows that working out too often or too much can damage your immune system, cause excessive muscle fatigue, makes it hard to sleep, and makes you grumpy and eat less.
The answer here is to work out fewer days per week, especially if you are older. If you are under 40, take at least one day off a week. If over 40, opt for three days on and use the remaining four days to improve your overall recovery by using a sauna, cryotherapy, getting a massage, going for a relaxing walk, or an easy hike.
Factor #6: Too Much Cardio
Treadmills and stationary bikes can seem like the missing ingredient to working out, but in reality, cardio as a tool for weight loss isn't what people think. Sure, it seems like you're melting fat away while supporting your heart, but cardio has risks as well.
In this case, think of intense cardio like running in a marathon or long-distance cycling. Unfortunately, heavy activity is bad for the heart. You can gain an enlarged and scarred heart from intense endurance-related workouts. The condition, called Phidippides cardiomyopathy, dilates the right atrium, which boosts troponin and natriuretic peptides and fibrosis, which may lead to death.
Most of us don't do this level of cardio, but this is just one example of what excessive cardio can do. And this type of exercise even works against the goal most people look for: reducing fat.
Excessive cardio causes extreme metabolic efficiency, which sounds good but leads to muscle loss, and reduces body fat to the point where your body requires even more fat. Resulting in less muscle and the need for more fat in order to handle the next heavy cardio activity. Cardio also downregulates anabolic hormones, like testosterone and growth hormone. This explains why marathon runners often still show fat around their waist.
And the less muscle you have, the less fat you burn. At the same time, your body gets used to the activity and efficient energy burning, which means your body ends up using less fat. Unfortunately, cardio, done intensely, just won't help with weight loss.
If you are in good shape, opt for short, intense sprints and change it up often, so your body is always adapting to something new. HIIT training melts away more fat than steady running. It also helps you avoid type 2 diabetes. These sessions go for about 30 minutes, allowing you to do more things with your time.
Factor # 7: The SAID Principle
Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID) means your body adapts to regular body exercises over time. Unless you change up your routine, your body will end up burning fewer calories, and you will gain less muscle.
This means if your results have been good on an exercise for 12 weeks, it won't hold up. Instead, opt for workout plans that are different from your norm, including the time of day you typically do it. If you play a sport, try another one you have never done before. It may feel good to stay consistent, but you need to change it up to stay healthy and burn fat.
Here are five ways to switch things up:
Instead of one weight lifting routine at a time, throw them together. Your body won't know what you're doing, and that's what you want.
Mix in cardio with a weight lifting routine, such as in 30, 60, or 90-second intermittent sessions. Do a bench press and then jump on a bike for 60 seconds.
Load weights into a backpack and go for a hike. The unplanned movements needed during a hike keep your body guessing.
Move the Gravity Center
Switch from barbells to kettlebells or medicine balls. Or choose a new angle on a cable machine. The subtle difference will be noticed by your body, keeping it in a state of surprise.
Change the Time of Day
Are you a morning or evening exerciser? Well, change it up by switching to the other half of the day, or even your lunch hour. Whatever time you have been doing, change it – unless you have sleeping issues, which can throw off your chronobiology (biological rhythms) that may cause other issues
Factor # 8: Consider Cold
It turns out that fat is not fat - that is, not all is the same. Some fat is good, and maintaining it is part of having a healthy body. In general terms, there is good fat, and there is bad fat.
The bad fat is called white adipose tissue, also known as white fat. It is waiting to be used, and until it is, it provides more cushion for your insides.
The good stuff is brown adipose tissue known as brown fat. It sits in and around your sternum, ribs, and clavicle. It mobilizes the energy found in your white fat, generating heat for your body through a process called cold thermogenesis.
Your brain stem causes all this to happen when it senses a cold feeling. Your brown fat also uses calories to complete its warming process, making your body work in a way similar to fasting. Being exposed to cold allows your body to do all of this, so daily cold showers are a good idea. Even an ice bath for 20 minutes will help. Seems scary but it’ll grow on you, I promise!
Factor # 9: Hormones
Hormonal imbalance and endocrine disruption can start early in life (early 20s). It is caused by many factors, including chemical exposures, external stresses like your job or love life, and internal issues such as illness, heavy metal ingestion, and the highs and lows of blood sugar, dietary issues, and nutrient deficiencies. Even a lack of sleep can be a culprit.
All of this slows your metabolism and changes your normal appetite, and even leads to systemic inflammation.
Breaking it down into women and men: women typically have issues with fat loss when hormone issues arise. Estrogen, in high amounts, produces fatty tissue while also producing progesterone which guards against excessive fat.
While a woman ages, progesterone is reduced more quickly than estrogen. When a woman is between 30 and 50 years of age, fat becomes harder to shed.
Men have their own version of this issue. As they age, testosterone decreases while their estrogen increases.
Both women and men can implement certain strategies to reduce this issue, but the first step is to see if the issue with weight loss is due to a hormonal imbalance. Blood tests are effective for this, or you can follow a DUTCH test, which can be done in your own home. This test measures your hormones and hormone metabolites through your urine. By reading your metabolites, you can see if you have too much cortisol or cortisol metabolites. Or one may be high and the other low.
The DUTCH profile tests for cortisol, cortisone, DHEA, estrogen, androgen, and estrogen metabolites, and testosterone. If any imbalances are shown, you can make changes to your diet to restore the balance:
Strategy # 1: More vegetables
Eat broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and also cabbage. They consist of indole-3-carbinol, an antioxidant that metabolizes excess estrogen in the body.
Strategy # 2: Filter your water.
Test for heavy metals or other dangerous chemicals in your water. This includes fluoride, which causes issues with your endocrine system. If problems are found, install a water filter. The best version is a reverse osmosis filter. You can even buy a unit that adds healthy minerals to your water, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Strategy # 3: Avoid plastic materials.
Opt for stainless steel or glass instead. Chemicals like BPA may enter your drinking water.
Factor # 10: Toxins & Chemicals
PCBs, DDT, DDE, as well as BPA have been found in exceptionally high amounts in human fat deposits which can trigger significant metabolic damage, hormonal discrepancies, and increased quantities of fat storage to guard tissues and internal organs.
This is why programs that promote quick weight loss commonly lead to skin rashes, acne, and even diarrhea.
As you reduce the fat deposits, you also release the toxins. These toxins lead to other issues unless you follow special detoxing rules. And if you store too many toxins in your fat, you won't effectively lose weight regardless of how hard you workout or how healthy you eat.
The tactics listed in factor #9 are a good place to start. You can reduce side effects like inflammation and general irritability as the toxins enter your bloodstream by consuming foods that will eliminate free radicals and oxidants that lead to cell preservation and anti-aging.
If you use antioxidants like berries and leafy veggies, you also increase your fiber intake. This works as a natural sponge to clean out toxins from your body. Add 35 to 60 grams of fiber each day through greens, berries, and a low amount of big fruits, seeds, and nuts.
Factor # 11: Allergies vs. Intolerance
You most likely know if you have food allergies since symptoms are often easy to spot. Some include swelling in the throat and issues with your respiratory system, or even skin rashes. These allergies are due to your system misidentifying proteins as bad for your system, creating an urgent response to the protein.
Some proteins aren't broken down during the digestion process and are then are tagged by Immunoglobin E, an antibody. Your body reads this as a dangerous protein and then proceeds to attack it, leading to your "allergic reaction."
Food tolerance is different and far less violent. These can come from deficiencies in the body, such as low liver enzymes or lactose intolerance, and gluten intolerance. This last one is often misleading for people because, in reality, foods with gluten also have gliadin. If you are sensitive to gliadin, your body will become inflamed when eating these foods. Other symptoms can seem similar to those of allergies but are less severe. But both cause inflammation, which leads to weight gain unless you change your diet.
Factor # 12: Micronutrient Deficiencies
If you have devoted any time attempting to maintain a balanced diet plan, you know about "macros" (macronutrients), otherwise known as protein, carbohydrates, and fats. But these are just a few of the many other foods your body needs to function, including micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Certain micronutrient deficiencies are associated with weight problems - especially vitamin D, chromium, biotin, thiamine, and also antioxidants. Shortages in these compounds prevent loss of fat through certain functions like altered insulin gene transcription and alterations to your sugar and amino acid metabolism. Other barriers to weight loss include shortages in magnesium, boron, vitamin A, vitamin K2, and even choline.
These deficiencies can come from digestive problems, fat deficiencies, or poor absorption. The number of micronutrients depends on the individual.
Doing a lab test is important to learn where and how you are deficient. A test will measure your levels of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids.
Factor #13: The Thyroid
Your thyroid glands regulate your metabolism by producing the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones have an effect on the metabolic rate of cholesterol, glucose, and proteins in your body. If the thyroid glands are underperforming, you can have hypothyroidism, and this makes you gain weight.
Hypothyroidism in adults causes deficiencies in selenium and iodine and even lead to unfortunate birth defects. Stress leads to issues of the hypothalamus that reduces T3 and T4. If the deficiencies persist, your thyroid is used less. And a lifestyle of demanding exercise, long work hours, and lack of sleep are issues here.
If you think you might have hypothyroidism, you can take a blood test to gauge your thyroid activity as well as your resting metabolic rate. If the rate is too low, the first step is to slow your life down. Overtraining is an issue, as we mentioned earlier, as well as limited recovery days and times without recovery weeks.
Nutrient-dense foods like seaweed, dulse, south brazil nuts, shellfish, and coconut oil are great for thyroid conversion.
Factor # 14: Irregular Eating
Studies show that regular eating routines improve meal metabolic response. If you are unable to shed weight, be sure to eat breakfast and eat dinner earlier in the day, and maintain consistent macros for your meals. It can even be the same foods, as long as they provide healthy nutrients your body needs.
Women benefit more from regularity. Untimely eating leads to lower postprandial (after-meal) energy expenditure than regular meal timing. They can also have better insulin sensitivity and healthy blood fat amounts, leading to better weight loss.
Not everyone is negatively affected by irregular eating, but for most people, it can be bad for metabolism because the body is waiting for food and thus increase metabolism at certain times of the day.
Factor # 15: Gut Health
We know that gut health can affect aging, but it can also influence weight gain or weight loss because of the trillions of bacteria living in your gut affect how your food is digested.
One research was done on 77 twins, where one was obese and one was not. The study found out that the obese twin had different gut bacteria than the non-obese one. Another study showed that when similar gut bacteria was placed into mice, these mice gained weight.Keep your gut healthy by consuming foods that are good for your gut bacteria like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, fermented foods and probiotics. And add supplements to your diet. Our Seabuck Whey is loaded with anti-inflammatory properties & healthy fats and is a powerhouse for gut bacteria; and our Plantbiotic provides natural gut support to increase healthy microbiome function while removing unhealthy bacteria.