There is one three letter word that is on everyone’s mind when they embark on a health or performance journey. It’s the word FAT! That’s it that! Three little words so powerful that it causes feelings of animosity, insecurity, leaves us sleepless, and for some digs them a hole in the depths of denial.
Can you believe it?! That tiny word that could possibly get you the least scores on a game of scrabble is a word that people are completely obsessed about. I am so sick of the power of this word and I really just want to demystify it and talk about how we can keep our fat content all in check.
I know there is a lot of buzz out there about fat and how it is terribly bad in our systems but the fact is fat is our bodies preferred source of energy. When we burn fat free radicals are not produced and we burn more of it once we teach our bodies how to burn it. So if you are carrying around any extra fat it’s probably because your body has not been trained to use it or it hasn’t being using it efficiently.
Bear with me, what I am about to tell you may sound nuts but you will make the most gains burning fat at a aerobic heart rate zone, which is 55 – 75% of your max heart rate.
According to Mark Sisson who wrote the The Primal Blueprint — “A workout conducted in the aerobic heart rate zone of 55-75 percent of maximum heart rate will optimize fat metabolism both during the work out and throughout the day”.
This level of intensity means that you are exercising at a comfortable pace, in which you are able to breathe and talk to your exercise buddy. In doing so, you are training your body how to operate better when you’re resting and it will then turn to fat as a primary source of energy. However, this method of training the body to burn will be ineffective if your diet does not match up and is high insulin producing. That is not to say that you cannot achieve great benefits from working out at higher intensities.
In fact, a well rounded fitness plan is a blend of anaerobic (heart rate over 75% of the max heart rate) and aerobic levels. The problem with working out at anaerobic levels is that it may become chronic in nature. By chronic I mean stressful on the body when combined with inadequate rest, recovery, or performed for to long in duration. Stress in the body produces high levels of cortisol which for anyone looking for muscle gains could be counter productive. More side effects include less fat burnt, energy levels, immune function and sex drive.
According to Sission, “a well-planned brief, intense workout causes a quick spike in the fight or flight hormone cortisol and elevated levels of adaptive hormones like testosterone and growth hormone for longer durations”. Meaning, your body will gain more muscle mass by taking your training time down a few notches. So now that you know how to start burning the fat, lets take a closer look at how to keep you burning fat.
One of the key components to burning fat is to keep insulin down. The highest insulin producing foods are those that are high carbohydrate in nature. The lowest insulin producing foods are those that have a high fat content and low or no carbohydrates altogether. Here are a few ideas on how to do this. Switch all your cooking oils out for butter and coconut oil if you are not already using it. Eat really fatty cuts of meat and fatty fish high in omega 3.
Make your own salad dressing with good fats like olive or avocado oil and just smother those vegetables with it. Do whatever you can do to inject more fat into your meals at home. However, if you find yourself dinning out and want to stay on point with your diet. You will have to be a little bit fussy about how your food is prepared. You can stick with the same principles that I have laid out. Have them cook your food with butter, skip the potatoes and get extra vegetables.
If you want a burger, skip the buns and use lettuce as a replacement. If you are getting some sort of wrap then wrap with lettuce instead. The last tip that I have for you is to skip out on alcohol. Alcohol will knock you into fat storing mode, the exact opposite of what you want.
That’s it you guys, the road ahead may seem like a bit of a challenge but once you have built the proper habits you’ll see that fat really isn’t as sinister as some make it seem. In fact you will be performing at higher levels and greater mental clarity when you maintain your fat burning goals.
You can learn more about nutrition from Kenora Nghi at www.thepikmethod.com.
QUESTION: Coach, what do you like to add to your workout shakes?
ANSWER: I use Athletic Greens in our shakes. It’s got tons of great nutrition—vitamins and minerals. Plus it mixes up easy in milk or water.