Fat loss can be so simple… but not when you’re doing most things wrong! Whether it is due to misinformation from magazines or well-intentioned ‘bro science’, there are plenty of common reasons why a six-pack remains elusive. Here are the top nine:
1. You are not eating 30g of protein with breakfast. If you are putting in effort in the gym, increasing your protein overall but not eating a good serving of protein at breakfast, then you are placing a huge limit on the your potential results.Meat, eggs, protein shake… All of these work. And don’t become fixated on lean meats, some fat is good for you!
2. You are leaving gaps of more than 3 hours between meals. If you do this, your blood sugar levels will drop, your metabolic rate will drop and your adrenal glands release cortisol. Cortisol directly activates fat storage enzymes. It can also trigger sugar cravings and induce insulin resistance. This is not what you want if fat burning is your aim.
3. You are eating too many carbs. This means fruits, too. Carb control is fairly obvious issue and not a new thing, but I can think of many ‘informed’ individuals, either clients or those attending seminars, who are perplexed at why they can’t lose weight but are consuming over 100g of sugars every day from fruits alone. As I have covered here, sugars convert into fat easily and fructose (fruit sugar) does so easiest of all.
4. You are not getting your omega 3s. These are a sub-group of fats found in flaxseed oil and fish oil (and in some other foods, but in smaller quantities). They have a lot of beneficial effects on circulation, hormonal sensitivity and inflammation, but they also increase fat oxidation at the liver. Very few people can get lean without omega 3s.
5. You are sleeping for less than 8 hours. I sometimes hear from clients who tell me that they ‘only need 5 hours to function’. Nonsense. Humans have evolved over more than a hundred thousand generations with a specific requirement for sleep, do you really think that you’re the first one who can short-circuit the need for 8 solid hours? Lack of quality sleep means your body releases more stress hormones like cortisol, one of the most effective fat-storage hormones in existence. You also need deep sleep in order to release growth hormone at optimal levels; more growth hormone = less fat.
6. Your adrenal glands aren’t functional. The interaction of adrenaline, cortisol and the central nervous system in burning fat are complex. However, the take-home message is that you will find it near impossible to drop below 14% bodyfat if your adrenal balance is out. Adrenal imbalance can occur from excessive stress sustained for too long or from chronic infections, and typically induces fatigue, poor sleeping patterns, weakness/shakiness after exercise or between meals and cravings for sugar/salt. If you’re not sure if this is affecting you, see a professional.
7. You are not taking magnesium. Magnesium is a component of 325 enzymes in the human body. It’s pretty important. And while you can expect positive improvements in muscle relaxation, energy production and hydration, the most noticeable impact is on the quality of your sleep (see point 5). Almost everyone in Britain is short in magnesium – this very likely means you.
8. You are running too much. While there are some exceptions, most people will burn very little fat while running. Not only that, it drives cortisol levels up more than any other type of exercise. Together with insulin, cortisol is the one hormone that guarantees you will not burn fat.
9. You haven’t seen a nutritional therapist. Some people are really good at stripping fat off their clients. See here. If you’re serious about getting results, pay to see someone who’s seriously good at what they do.