Burn fat naturally – sounds like a huckster phrase from someone trying to sell you a diet pill, doesn’t it? Don’t worry. We’re very anti-diet pill. We’d rather see you slim down through smart dietary choices and moving your body more than by popping a pill.
The worst approach to losing weight is to go on a calorie-restricted diet that makes you miserable. You’ll end up frustrated after you lose a little weight and then gain it all back. It happens all the time. Research shows 90% of people who lose a significant amount of weigh regain it.
Our advice? Don’t go on a low-calorie diet and starve yourself. Instead, make small changes to your diet and lifestyle – changes you can really integrate into your life. That’s the takeaway for today – little things you can do to lose weight and improve your health.
None of these things are the “holy grail” for weight loss but they are things that can “tip the scales” in your favor over time, literally.
Cut Back the Thermostat
What is the temperature in your home – and why does it matter? Some experts believe the climate-controlled environment most of us work in is contributing to the obesity epidemic. Yep. It’s true. A type of atypical fat called brown fat has been making headlines recently.
Brown fat is a form of fat that’s very different from the jiggly stuff we store on our hips, thighs and tummies. Brown fat is “inefficient” fat that converts energy from the food you eat into heat. This means lost calories.
Thanks to the activity of brown fat, the calories you could have stored on your body are converted into wasted energy or heat. Yay for free calories!
Babies have the most brown fat. Infants need fat that converts calories into heat to stay warm. Adults have less of it but retain a small amount around their collarbone and neck even as adults.
To burn fat naturally, you have to turn on brown fat. Guess what does this? Cooler temperatures. In one study, lowering the thermostat to 66 degrees F. was low enough to activate brown fat in adults and release more calories from food as heat.
How warm is your home and sleeping area? Simply turning back the thermostat a bit could give you a fat-burning advantage. Sixty-six degrees F isn’t an unbearably cool temperature and one you’ll adapt to over time.
If you’re living and sleeping in toasty quarters, reset your thermostat to no higher than 66 degrees F. There’s an added benefit to doing this. Research shows lower temperatures also improve insulin sensitivity. This may lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and help you burn fat naturally – while you sleep.
Burn Fat Naturally: Replace Sugary Beverages with Green Tea
How many calories are you sipping a day? The calories from soft drinks, fruit juice and other beverages with sugar add up. Not to mention you don’t need the sugar or high-fructose corn syrup in these drinks. Replace these sickeningly sweet beverages with green tea.
Why green tea? Small studies show it has a modest thermogenic or fat-burning effect. Green tea extract in studies was linked with a metabolic boost of around 4% – modest, but not insignificant.
You could get similar benefits by drinking 3 or more cups of high-quality green tea a day. If you’re replacing beverages with calories with green tea, you’re also consuming fewer calories.
Dr. A and I have talked to a number of people who have lost weight by simply eliminating calorie-containing beverages from their diet.
We drink green tea ourselves, either loose-leaf green tea we brew at home or Matcha. Matcha is Japanese green tea powder you can use to make green tea lattes or add to your hot cereal in the morning.
Here’s how to make a green tea latte:
Stop Sitting So Much
Did you know you burn 30 to 40 more calories for each hour you stand instead of sit? This may not sound like a lot but it adds up over time. If you stand eight hours a day at work rather than sitting, you’ll burn up to 320 more calories daily, enough to lose a pound every 10 days.
That’s not the only reason to hide your office chair. Sitting is linked with a greater risk for health problems like type 2 diabetes and heart disease AND a higher risk for mortality.
So compelling are the health risks of sitting that experts now talk about “sitting disease.” Don’t be its next victim.
Keep track of how many hours you sit a day – at the office and at home. You’ll be surprised at how much time you spent with your butt planted in a chair. This isn’t good for your health or your weight.
Invest in a standing desk or build a platform to elevate your computer monitor so you can stand instead of sit, especially if you work a desk job. You’ll feel better at the end of the day too.
Get Enough Protein in Your Diet
Did you know your body has to burn more calories to digest, absorb and metabolize protein? The other benefit of protein is it’s more satisfying and filling than carbohydrates and fat, so you eat less when you have more protein in your diet.
Eat a small amount of protein with each meal and snack. It’ll give your metabolism a subtle boost while helping to control your appetite. We always start the day with scrambled egg whites and quinoa cereal – two sources of protein and rarely feel hungry even when lunchtime rolls around.
Track Your Movements
There’s a natural inclination to move more when you know your movements are being tracked. More movement means more fat burning and calorie expenditure.
The FitBit, as we’ve mentioned in a previous post, is a high-tech way to monitor the distance you walk each day, the number of steps you take and the number of calories you burned. It also monitors your sleep quality at night.
Tracking tools like this can be a great motivator. You don’t even need a FitBit to do this – a pedometer can track your steps and give you the motivation to keep taking more.
Anything that encourages you to move around more, take more steps and sit less is a-okay in our book.
The Bottom Line?
Here are five “not so hard to do” small changes you can make to your lifestyle to burn fat naturally and increase the number of calories you burn throughout the day. Which will you do?
WebMD. “Cooler Indoor Temps May Help ‘Good Fat’ Grow”
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American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidationin humans” (1999)
American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative PhysiologyPublished 1 January 2007Vol. 292no. R77-R85DOI: 10.1152/ajpregu.00832.2005.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Mar;93(3):525-34. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.005850. Epub 2011 Jan 12.
Nutrition & Metabolism 2004, 1:5 doi:10.1186/1743-7075-1-5