Take a look at this article by Vox, published in the beginning of 2019 – it explains the simple (but often forgotten) science behind how much more diet matters than exercise, when it comes to burning calories. Here’s also a much more in-depth piece (by the same author), based on more than 60 published scientific studies.
The conclusion is clear – physical exercise accounts for a relatively insignificant amount of the calories you burn daily. Or, as I’ve been saying for years – it would take you up to an hour of brisk walking to burn off the energy in a serving of ice-cream.
Here are the most important points from the article:
You cannot outrun a bad diet
after a certain amount of exercise, you don’t keep burning calories at the same rate: Total energy expenditure may eventually plateau
Exercise is excellent for health, but it’s not important for weight loss. The two things should never be given equal weight in the obesity debate
“Pretend you didn’t exercise at all,” – “You will most likely compensate anyway, so think of exercising just for health improvement but not for weight loss.”
Keep in mind – this only applies to the caloric model of weight-loss and doesn’t take hormones into account
Of course, there is much more to health and weight loss than calories. The caloric model clearly doesn’t explain why some people(particularly the young ones) can stay thin even when eating in a caloric excess. There are many other factors, like leptin sensitivity, insulin secretion, diurnal variation of cortisol, water weight storage due to ADH reductions and many, many more. If you like to read more on those topics, take a look at my other articles, concerning those topics.
This is an interesting one – most scientists agree that the only way to lose weight is from your whole body – you can’t do anything ‘local’ to your belly that will make you lost weight just from there. However, topical ginger compresses seem to be the exception. That is due to the high absorption of compounds, known as gingerols from topical preparations of ginger. Lemon seems to speed up the process even more, by adjusting the Ph. (Study)
How to use:
Make a thick paste out of dried ginger powder or use fresh ginger juice
Add a few drops of lemon juice to make the Ph acidic
Apply to skin and cover with kitchen wrap to prevent drying
Keep it on for a few hours daily & notice the difference!
Use a Daily Liver Detox Drink to Free Up ‘Stuck’ Fat-Soluble Toxins
Detox drinks – this is actually not a “slow and steady” weight loss hack, because with the right detox drink, you can actually lose weight very quickly. I’ve talked more about this before – combinations of certain antioxidants can quickly make liver toxins water-soluble, which enables your body to get rid of massive amounts of visceral belly fat. The studies on this topic are complex and not specific to the direct effects of detox compounds on fat reduction. 1,2,3,4
Here’s a good recipe for starters:
Half a teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 Oz of Fresh Ginger Juice or a teaspoon of dried ginger powder
The Juice of half a lemon
Half a cup of water
This is very similar to the topical recipe above – it contains ginger, acidified with lemon juice. The potent combination of gingerols and curcumin does wonders to detox the liver from stuck fat-soluble toxins. Study
Use Liposomal Turmeric
This is one of the most effective way to lose weight with little effort. Although there are some miracle detox juice recipes out there, that will certainly kick-start your metabolism quickly, liposomal turmeric close in effectiveness, and a bit more convenient – instead of preparing juices, you just consume a few drops from a bottle!
What about regular, turmeric powder? Turmeric powder is often recommended as a weight loss aid – and although it is modestly effective for fat loss (study 1, study 2, study 3), it doesn’t even come close to Liposomal turmeric, which is hundreds of times more bioavailable and reaches deeply into the toxins stored in the fat layers of the liver.
Remember however, that not all Liposomal turmeric is created equal! You need the unoxidized type, like Pura Thrive. The way liposomal turmeric works is not dependent on caloric expenditure. Which is good, because trying to lose weight solely by burning calories is quite the uphill battle. But that’s a topic for another article!
Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice
Drinking acidified water is proven to help weight loss(studies). But the real proof comes not from the small amount of studies showing modest results, but from countless unbiased anecdotal reports of people steadily losing weight just by drinking a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar a day. This also helps all sorts of health ailments, including acne (link). The best explanation as to how apple cider vinegar works is the following video by Dr. Eric Berg:
The acetic acid in the vinger mobilizes minerals and stops the detrimental effect of cortisol on fat loss. It’s worth mentioning that regular vinegar should work just as good as expensive apple cider vinegar, containing the mother. Some people claim that the mechanism through which ACV works is the vinegar bacteria consuming certain sugars before they are absorbed – but this doesn’t really make sense, as sugars are absorbed in the gut in as short as 5 to 15 minutes. The fermentation process, through which acetic acid bacteria metabolize sugar, on the other hand takes many days.
Use Butter to Provide Satiety (But Don’t Mix it With Carbs)
This is a bit counter-intuitive, as butter is one of the most calorically dense foods around and most of it is saturated fat. Still, studies show it provides a lot of satiety. It is also non-insulinogenic. So, if you need a quick way to feel satiated, eating a small block of butter may be the simplest solution. Careful here! Combining butter with even small amounts of carbohydrates or protein will likely make it more fat-storing than satiety-providing. Eating butter with some toast is one of the best ways to stall your weight loss progress.
A Psychological Trick – Using Smaller Blue Plates is Surprisingly Effective
This is a weird one, but the studies don’t lie – putting your food on a smaller plate makes you fuller quickly, and ‘tricks’ your brain into thinking you have finished a bigger portion. In fact, this is a trick restaurants use to increase your appetite beyond your food requirements for the visit. Using plate of color that is contrasting with the food will help further – the best way is to simply use light blue plates, because there aren’t any foods that are blue in color 🙂 Also, you feel fuller when you switch between multiple plates when eating, as opposed to eating everything for a single plate.
Lowering cortisol will lead to loss of facial and belly fat, if part of the reason you are gaining weight is because of stress. The extreme example is people with cushing’s syndrome, which is a disease of excess cortisol. Putting on abdominal, facial and cheek fat is one of the first things that happen in people with this disease. Resolving the high cortisol levels leads to quick weight loss. You don’t have to have the extremely high cortisol levels seen in cushings disease for your body to put on fat – even modest spikes in cortisol will make your body ‘hold on’ to any fat it has.
Now, lowering cortisol is easier said than done and the mechanics of that warrant a separate article. Since cortisol is a stress hormone, every relaxation technique lowers it a bit. Meditation works, and so does exercise – despite spiking cortisol in the short term, it lowers it long term.
One of the best supplements to lower cortisol is Rhodiola Rosea – in this remarkable study, you can see the astonishing results rhodiola has on cortisol levels. It lowers them almost 3-fold in just 2 days and completely prevents cortisol spikes during immobilization tests in rabbits. Reading reviews on Rhodiola supplements, you will notice a lot of people report belly fat reduction in addition to general weight loss. So, if you want to lose weight and at the same time feel stressed out, there might be a connection there! Taking rhodiola may prove to be a simple solution. Interestingly, this effect will be much, much higher when rhodiola is combined with a good detox drink (see #2).
Use Hot Spices – They Increase Resting Caloric Expenditure
Chili contains capsaicin, which is a thermogenic agent. Hot foods aren’t called hot for no reason – they actually boost your body temperature, so it’s not just a perceptual thing. Just like we explained in trick #1, producing heat burns calories – and more of them then exercising. More than 50% of your daily caloric expenditure simply goes towards heating your body, regardless of how much you exercise. There aren’t any specific rules here – we can’t tell you how many lbs of fat you will shred by eating one chili pepper a day, but we do know it WILL make your body burn fat.
Everything about how chili works to make you lose weight is explained in this study(Conclusion of the study: “in summary, capsaicin plays a critical role in human and has multiple benefits for metabolic health, especially for weight loss in obese individuals.”)
Green Tea – Proven to Prevent Fat-Storage and Induce Fat Loss
No health article is complete without mentioning green tea – yes, it is often mentioned for it’s cancer-prevention benefits, antibacterial effects and countless others. But when it comes to weight loss, it really does work. The EGCG it contains prevents storage of polyunsaturated fatty acids and induces lipolysis. We won’t explain a lot here, because there are countless articles around about green tea and it’s weight loss effects. So, as a long-term weight loss strategy, simply drinking a cup or two daily is perfect!
Here are a few studies, if you want to read more on green tea’s fat-burning effects: 1, 2, 3. Like with all tightly-controlled health studies on pubmed, the results shown are somewhat modest – over a 4 month period, people drinking green tea daily lost about 7 pounds more than those who didn’t.
Drink Cold Water on an Empty Stomach – Reduces Appetite and Burns Heat Calories
Cold water on an empty stomach – this is the simplest and most boring one! Also, maybe the least effective. The food calorie is a unit that measure the amount of energy to heat 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius. This means that 1 liter of water that is 15 C colder than your body(cold tap water) will burn you 15kcal – which is 2 grams of body fat. On a pure physics level that is not very impressive at all. However, many people report good results with a daily glass of cold water in the morning – perhaps there is more to this than pure heat and energy physics. The satiety that the water provides, combined with the cold stimulation of the stomach nerves may lead to a bit of a compounding effect. However, do not go overboard with the water – some people claim that excessive water intake may actually slow down your metabolism (link).
Add Cinnamon to Carby Meals or Daily in the Morning
Although it’s not completely clear how it works, cinnamon is proven to lower blood sugar. Possible mechanisms include boosting insulin, increasing insulin sensitivity and slowing down carbohydrate digestion in the stomach. Study. There is lots of anecdotal evidence that cinnamon helps people with Type 2 Diabetes by lowering their blood sugar. It can also lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Cinnamon can be incorporated in your life in two ways – as a drink or as a food additive.
As an additive it can be added to coffee, rice meals, pasta and virtually any carby meal out there. As a drink, you can simply mix cinnamon powder with some water and add honey! You can add cinnamon powder to almost anything sweet and it will not only not hurt, but actually improve the taste!
Eat Legumes Every Day
This is a very interesting one – eating a serving of beans, such as lentils, lowers your blood sugar spike even from a meal eaten 24 hours later! This is called “The second meal effect” and is due to propionate being released in the gut, plus a few other mechanisms that are not totally clear. Here is a good video explanaion of the amazing effect beans have on the meals after that:
Even more interesting, this study concluded that legume intake was the most disease-protective factor of all in an elderly population. Beans are also a major part of the slow-carb diet. Although they contain a lot of carbohydrates (just as much as rice, in fact), they barely increase your blood sugar – the effect on blood glucose is extremely soft and slow.
A Simple Morning Walk
This is a self-explanatory one, and we won’t even include any studies here. A morning walk improves circulation, makes you feel good, burns calories and is a nice start of any day. When you start moving on an empty stomach, your body has no choice, but to burn fat, because your glycogen stores are depleted during sleep. Also, the meal following your walk will be going towards replenishing the glycogen stores in the liver and not towards putting on more fat! So that’s really cool 🙂
Starting your day with a walk can also lead to increased energy levels through the rest of the day and morning exercise is one of the most important things, according to the Miracle Morning Book by Hal Elrod.
Drinking Coffee Before a Workout
Coffee lowers your appetite, increases your metabolism (although this effect may diminish for long-term drinkers) and has many health benefits. You will be hard pressed to find a study that shows negative health effects from coffee consumption. It contains soluble fiber, antioxidants, inulin, increases insulin sensitivity and burns fat. Most people think coffee is just caffeine with added taste. Not so. In fact, there are many compounds responsible for the fat-burning effect of coffee, apart from caffeine. The main one, being chlorogenic acid (study).
Bad News: Regular, Store-Bought Turmeric Has Very Poor Gut Absorption. Most of It Is Oxidized and Only Suitable for Food Coloring
We have all heard that turmeric is great – it promotes radiant skin, weight loss, has many cognitive and brain benefits and can work better for pain than over the counter pain relievers! Recently, some publications explored the effectiveness of turmeric for depression and the results were very promising.
Virtually all benefit-showing studies done on turmeric, use ethanol-aqueous extracts from fresh roots. This is very different from regular, store-bought turmeric. Gut absorption of turmeric is quite low (study) and gets even lower with age, because of the reduced ability of the liver to produce bile.
Fortunately, there are ways around this! Let’s explore some great options to get all the benefits of turmeric, without having access to lab-grade turmeric extracts.
Best Option: Use Full-Range Micelle Turmeric to Get All The Health Benefits Turmeric is Known For! (Link)
This is arguably the most effective way to put turmeric in your body and actually feel, notice and experience the actual benefits turmeric is known for. Micelle turmeric uses extremely tiny droplets(about 200 times smaller than the emulsion droplets that butter consists of for example), suspended in a liquid to bypass the digestive process and ‘transport’ the turmeric straight into your cells, where it can do it’s magic – it’s the closest thing to an ‘anti-aging injection’ that you’ll find. Even compared to high-quality unoxidized turmeric extract, micelle turmeric has up to 200-times higher absorption rate and quickly gets delivered around the cells in the body.
As amazing as micelle liposomal turmeric is, it does have a slight downside – its higher price. Since making micelle solutions requires lab testing to confirm that particle size is small enough to get absorbed right through membranes, this does raise the cost slightly.
Micelle turmeric is ingested normally(orally) – because of it’s high concentration and bio-availability, only a few drops are required to experience the effects.
Option 2: Find Fresh Turmeric Root, Blend With Some Water and Coconut oil, and Add Black Pepper
The second best way to absorb turmeric is to simply get a high-quality powder or just fresh root. It’s impossible to tell with a 100% certainty how good certain turmeric powder is, without lab testing, but the color of the powder is a good indication – look for a bright, vibrant orange or yellow color. Low quality turmeric is immediately obvious by it’s ‘dullness’ – it just doesn’t look that good. If you find a high-quality powder, you can use that to make turmeric milk(recipe), which has decent absorption, due to the fat content of the milk.