Worst. Winter. Ever. I'm so tired of these single digit temperatures, as I'm sure you are. BUT.... even if it doesn't feel like it, Spring and Summer are around the corner. This is the time when we all need some help with our fat-loss strategies!
Have you ever heard of Leptin? Think of it as the conductor of your body's fat-loss orchestra. Whether or not you are able to lose fat has EVERYTHING to do with the levels of Leptin in your body AND your body's sensitivity to it.
Leptin, from the Greek Leptos meaning "thin" also known as the "satiety hormone", is a hormone made by fat cells which regulates the amount of fat stored in the body. It does this by adjusting both the sensation of hunger, and adjusting energy expenditures.
When you go on a diet, in just the first week, your Leptin levels can drop by as much as 50%. This will keep you from burning fat no matter what else you are doing, including exercise. When you go on a diet, your body doesn't know that you are gearing up for your high school reunion or trying to look great in a swimsuit next summer. It just knows that it is not getting the nutrition it needs. Fat is seen by your body as useful, for warmth, for stored energy supplies. And when it detects that it "starving", it will back off Leptin production to hold onto and store more of this important resource. The perfect equation for the fat-loss plateaus that we have all experienced.
What can you do about it? (there is good news here)
If you eat well all well all week, it is very important to take a "cheat day", one day per week, in which you increase you caloric intake (by as many as 1000 calories) by eating all of the things that you love - pizza, ice cream, pasta, mac 'n cheese, cookies - in order to allow your body to restore it's levels of leptin. Sounds good, right?
Now, we can't eat like this all the time. JUST on the one cheat day, and then only if you have a week of solid, good nutrition behind you. My general recommendations for the best nutrition can be found in the first 2 PDFs on my web-site's download page at www.GetEmpoweredFitness.com/downloads. The password is: metabolism.
But there is another problem with leptin, and that is that is that even at high levels your body may have become resistant to it. Why would that happen? Well, eating fried foods, sugars and simple carbohydrates and even wheat-based foods may be crippling your body's ability to use leptin for fat loss. Try to avoid these as much as possible (except on your "cheat day"). This includes almost every food found in a box or bag, foods with LONG lists of ingredients, many of which you can't even pronounce. These foods tend to include GMO corn and soy which are helping to make more and more American's obese.
Instead, eat foods that have one ingredient, the food itself.
What's in tomatoes/? tomatoes.
These foods all have one thing in common - their only ingredient is the food itself. And these are the foods you should be eating on a daily basis, at every meal. These are whole, healthy, natural foods, that will keep your metabolism burning at its fastest rate ever.... until your leptin levels start to fall and you take a "cheat day" to restore those levels.
By eating in a way that keeps leptin resistance down and taking a "cheat day" to restore your body's leptin supply, you will burn more fat and fat-loss plateaus will become a thing of the past.
Good to know as we approach Spring and Summer and tank tops and swimsuits replace sweaters and heavy coats.
Greg Rothman, MS PT, is a fitness professional, writer and the owner of Empower Fitness in NYC. He received his Masters Degree in Physical Therapy from Columbia University and has twenty years of experience in the fitness and rehabilitation fields. He believes that absolutely anyone can have the body of their dreams once they understand how to eat and exercise in a way that supports their goals. It is his mission to Empower as many people as possible to do just that. His “Recession-Proof” Fitness Programs are an affordable way to find dramatic physical change over the course of 10 weeks. Greg is happy to hear from you if you have questions about any topic related to fitness or nutrition, and can be found at www.GetEmpoweredFitness.com.