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Fat gain and fat loss are dictated by certain biological principles. All current diets are based on two major premises: 1) Restriction of calories and 2) restriction of carbs are the most effective methods of fat loss. And those premises seem to make sense. When you restrict calories, your body takes in less energy than it uses; therefore, it's forced to burn stored fat to provide the missing energy. When you restrict carbs, you force your body to burn fat instead. What's more, carb restrictions minimize insulin's inhibitory effects on fat burning.
Despite the convincing logic behind those premises, most, if not all, diets fail in the long run. Evidently, calorie restriction and carb restriction aren't enough to sustain fat loss. So something must be missing in the current assumption.
The missing link is the so-called time factor. Regardless of their current popularity, in the long run chronic calorie and carb restrictions may adversely affect thyroid, growth hormone and steroid hormone actions, leading to an overall sluggish metabolism.
That said, calorie and carb restrictions can be quite effective in helping you lose bodyfat'if you do them periodically rather than all the time. It's important to note that distinction. Our conclusion is that in order for people to be able lose fat and remain lean, we need the benefit of further investigation into the various biological functions for which fat is responsible as well as practical methods for eliminating those responsibilities. When fat is deprived of its responsibility, it loses its biological function and, like anything else, it degrades and deteriorates.
Similar to muscle, fat can be either built or destroyed depending on biological priorities. The body's survival depends on its tendency to develop active tissue and degrade inactive tissue. That includes fat tissue. Take away its active role, and fat will likely break down and shrink to a minimum as it becomes unnecessary.
The Thyroid Gland's Role
Low thyroid often causes an overall metabolic decline, including impaired muscle-fuel utilization, lack of strength, sensitivity to cold and fat gain. Low-carb ketogenic diets are very popular these days. People who suffer from insulin resistance may benefit from them when they adjust the diet to their specific needs. Nevertheless, the practice of reaching a metabolic state of ketosis-related fat loss, such as occurs in high-fat, no-carb ketogenic diets, is ill advised.
Temperature and Fat Loss
Fat metabolism may be affected by exposure to cold temperatures, a fact that could be practically manipulated to further accelerate fat loss. When exposed to extremely cold temperatures, the body induces an increase in energy expenditure that translates into body heat and that's mediated by uncoupling proteins, or UCPs. Found in the inner mitochondrial membranes, UCPs generate their actions by transferring anions, or negatively charged particles, through mitochondrial membranes. The uncoupling proteins' actions create a proton infusion that bypasses energy utilization as ATP, inducing what's considered to be a waste of energy in the form of heat. In sparking that thermogenic effect, UCPs reduce the cellular level of ATP, creating a negative cellular energy balance that forces the body to increase cellular production to compensate for the wasted energy. Additionally, a cellular negative energy balance promotes cellular cAMP and inhibits insulin.
In practical terms, you can take advantage of uncoupling-protein activity by inducing exposure to cold; for example, by taking cold showers. It is recommended that you rotate between warm and cold showers, finishing with a cold shower. People who live in Russia and other parts of Europe have traditionally used that method of exposing the body to extreme cold temperatures. Rubbing snow on the body and jumping into icy rivers have long been considered effective methods of improving circulation and overall health. Nevertheless, when it comes to losing fat, temporary exposure to extreme cold increases the actions of uncoupling proteins, thereby increasing body heat as well as the rate of fatty acid mobilization and fat loss.
Climate can also affect fat-loss patterns. Generally, people who live in hot climates are more inclined and biologically suited to eating plant foods such as veggies, fruits and grains and are therefore more insulin sensitive. Conversely, people who live in cold climates are mostly flesh and fat eaters and may be inherently inclined to an insulin-resistant metabolic state that creates a constant influx of fatty acids to the liver as fuel for keeping the body warm. It's currently fashionable to cite Inuits as the epitome of health. Unfortunately, as healthy as they assumably are in their native environment, Inuits and their descendants suffer from myriad blood sugar'related and vascular problems once they begin to follow a typical Western diet.
The point is that people who are genetically predisposed to live in cold weather may have a tendency toward insulin resistance and stubborn fat gain. It would then be reasonable to suggest that Inuits, some American Indians and maybe even some Latinos who are of part-Indian, part-Spanish descent may need a special modified low-glycemic diet. Most important, people who are genetically predisposed to live in a cold environment need to be physically active, creating a state of increased energy expenditure that may mimic the way their body is primally destined to be. Periodic undereating and a steady exercise routine, including aerobics and resistance, are highly recommended.
Researchers are currently studying certain beta-3 receptors due to their likely direct response to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which facilitates muscle contraction. Nonetheless, beta-3 receptors are considered to be fat-burning stimulators. Adrenal hormones known as catecholamines are largely released as a fight-or-flight response to stress. The effects of stress on adipose tissue and the liver cause a release of fatty acids and glucose, respectively, as fuel. In skeletal muscles adrenal stimulation causes the breakdown of glycogen reserves to provide immediate fuel for swift reactions.
Adrenal hormones accelerate the heart rate during stress to bring about increased blood flow. They also enhance breathing by relaxing blood vessels in the nasal passages and increase overall detox in the gastrointestinal tract. Evidently, adrenal hormones help the body react to danger or stress in the short run by facilitating fat burning for immediate fuel utilization as well as enhancing oxygenation and eliminating toxins. In the long run, however, they may have other metabolic functions that at times may appear to be contradictory and quite confusing.
In general, all adreno receptors compete for the same adrenal hormones. Since it's the ratio of beta-adreno receptors to alpha-adreno receptors that dictates stimulatory or inhibitory effects, it's reasonable to suggest that both types of adrenal actions may serve different biological purposes. For that matter, a high affinity of a tissue for the inhibitory effect of alpha-2 receptors is likely part of a biological defense mechanism that may protect the body against stress-related adrenal-overexcitatory impact.
In other words, overexcitatory impact'for example, what may occur in response to constant danger and chronic stress'may lead to panic reactions or adrenal exhaustion, respectively, which may lead to further overall metabolic breakdown. It's likely that ongoing exposure to stress with insufficient rest may cause formation of tissue that's less responsive to adrenal stimulation, such as stubborn fat, which typically expresses a high ratio of alpha to beta receptors.
Despite the need for more research on this subject, it's clear that people should avoid exposure to chronic stress. Relaxation methods, sufficient rest and avoiding overtraining can help manage stress and protect against exhaustion.
Let stress work for you. Performing short, intense workouts while getting sufficient rest may give better results than obsessively performing long workouts six to seven days per week. Controlled exposure to short-term stress can be stimulating and most effective for fat loss, whereas prolonged exposure to stress may have an opposite effect. Since the body adapts to the most dominating and recurring stimulation, it's very likely that it would adapt to chronic stress by reversing tissue sensitivity to the adreno stimulatory reactions, thereby protecting itself from exhaustion. Such adaptation may make fat tissue less reactive to breakdown and, therefore, more stubborn. What's more, it's very likely that the long-term adaptation to chronic stress could be partly responsible for the fact that stubborn fat gain is often age related.
Taking Away the Reasons for Fat to Exist:
'Establishing temporary states of negative energy balance (i.e., when you expend more energy than you consume) through periodic undereating and exercise will likely take away the reason for fat to be stored for energy and instead force it to break down into fuel for energy.
'Removing toxins from the body via periodic fasting or undereating helps take away the reason for fat to store toxins, thereby preventing fat gain while practically supporting fat loss.
'Natural methods that increase the body's capacity for using fat for energy, such performing endurance and strength training, will likely help protect the body against accumulation of serum lipids as well as insulin resistance, thereby taking away that reason for fat gain while effecting fat loss.
'Avoiding consumption of estrogenic substances such as petroleum-based food chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers as well as overconsumption of alcohol can help prevent overestrogenic activity that may give fat reason to accumulate.
'Avoiding chronic calorie restrictions and crash diets can help prevent a sudden elevation of toxin levels as well as help prevent estrogen decline (in women), thereby taking away the reasons for a fat-gain rebound.
'Avoiding ketogenic diets that involve chronic carb restrictions can prevent fat-gain rebound as well as low thyroid, sluggish metabolism and impaired performance.
'Exposing the body to extreme cold temperatures'for example, by taking cold showers or swimming in cold water'can trigger an increase in the actions of uncoupling proteins and thereby increase body heat as well as accelerate the rate of fatty acid mobilization for energy and overall fat loss.
'Avoiding exposure to chronic stress, such as is caused by overtraining, lack of relaxation and insufficient rest, to keep your body from adapting to the stress may result in decreased sensitivity to adrenal fat-burning actions and the formation of stubborn fat tissue.
Editor's note: For a summary of the author's comments on fat loss, see 'Taking Away the Reasons for Fat to Exist: Practical Advice' above. Ori Hofmekler is the author of the books The Warrior Diet and Maximum Muscle & Minimum Fat, published by Dragon Door Publications (www.dragon door.com). For more information or consultations, contact him at [email protected], www .warriordiet.com or by phone at 1-866-WAR-DIET. IM