We’ve all heard it before. If you want to lose weight, eat less and exercise more. Burn more calories than you consume and your body has no choice but to tap those fat reserves for energy, right?
Fat chance. First of all, it takes incredible willpower to consume fewer calories than you burn. Food is one of our strongest primal needs. How long can you fight that? What will happen when you eventually lose that fight? It’s not a sustainable solution.
Secondly, when you restrict calories your metabolism will downshift to accommodate the apparent scarcity of food. Your body isn’t stupid. Fat is an energy safety net, and the harder you push to free that energy (by eating less or exercising more) the more desperately your body will hang onto it through metabolic adjustments.
Finally, fat is not the only energy reserve in your body. If you simply starve yourself or exercise like the Energizer bunny, it’s impossible to target fat over muscle. The only way to target fat is to understand how the body regulates fat tissue, which should have been our focus in the first place. Here it is folks… a real solution.
Insulin is the dominant hormone when it comes to fat storage. Gary Taubes lays this out in his book “Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It.” Anything we do to increase insulin levels will make us fatter, and anything we do to decrease insulin levels will make us thinner. The easiest way to reduce insulin levels is to eat fewer carbohydrates, especially carbohydrates with a high glycemic response. Eliminate sugars (fruit juice, soda, sweets) and starches (bread, potatoes, cereal) and you will lose fat. You’ll lose fat because your body will switch from using carbohydrates (glucose) as fuel to using fat as fuel. Your body won’t burn fat for fuel unless you restrict carbohydrates enough that your body has to make the switch.
Atkins had it right when it comes to fat loss. Don’t exercise more. Don’t eat less. Just follow the prevailing wisdom about fat loss prior to the 1960s and get your fat storage hormone under control.