“The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around.”
Guess who said that? Thomas Edison – one of his history’s greatest inventors, and also a man who was – in this case…
Why? Think of it this way: a brain without a well-functioning body results in a sad, shackled, unattractive human machine unable to perform functional movement, and a body without a well-functioning brain results in a boring, human bag of meat and muscle. If you want to optimize your brain, health, and longevity, then you have to maintain peak physical condition and a lean build. And a big step in that direction is understanding efficient and powerful fat loss.
But fat loss can be a tough nut to crack. Watching the scale refuse to budge, constant weight fluctuations, and a constant barrage of the latest fat loss tips or miracle pills – talk about frustrating and stressful.
Think about the last piece of fat loss advice you received. Let me guess…it probably went something like this:
“Try this pill.”
“Read this diet book.”
And sure: fat loss and the attainment of a sexy, lean body begins with getting off your butt, moving more, working out, and denying yourself the treats that seem to show up everywhere.
But when it comes to losing fat fast, staying shredded, ripped and toned year round, and getting to the body weight you want – without two-a-day workouts and being hungry all the time – there are potent strategies that fly under the radar: strategies that go beyond fat loss.
For example, let’s take the flawed concept that, no matter what, you’ll always be stuck with the number of fat cells you’ve built earlier in your life. This commonly accepted dogma in the fitness and diet industry dictates that if you’ve ever had excess weight or bits of undesirable adipose tissue on your waist, hips and butt, then the fat cells in those areas will never actually disappear, but will instead simply shrink. Those fat cells will then hide, waiting in the wings for the next time you mess up and eat a few too many bites of steak or an extra scoop of ice cream – at which point those food calories are doomed to wind up getting shoved directly into the eagerly waiting fat cells – resulting in a constant uphill battle against the bulge.
But this simply isn’t true. Catherine Shanahan, M.D., in her book Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, writes that if you banish just one particularly notorious biological variable that is present in most people eating a standard Western diet, then you can actually induce fat cells to not only die, but to get transformed into other physiologically useful tissues, such as muscle cells, stem cells and neural cells. So what is this variable?
It’s not excess calories. It’s not chocolate. It’s not, to the chagrin of diet book authors worldwide, gluten. It’s not a low-carb, high-fat or a high-carb, low-fat diet.
That’s right: inflammation – particularly from exposure to a toxin-laden environment, consumption of heated and rancid vegetable oils, and a stressful lifestyle combined with not enough sleep – can make fat cells resistant to dying and resistant to getting converted into other tissues, particularly because excess inflammation creates excess insulin, and insulin is the hormone responsible for shoveling calories into fat tissue. So to achieve lasting fat loss, the solution is simple: shut down inflammation.
That’s not to bash the benefits of calorie-deficit, low sugar, gluten-free, high-fat, low-carb or high-carb, low-fat diets. In fact, high-fat, low-carb diets are incredibly conducive to building muscle and stripping off fat to achieve a lean physique. But not all fats are created equal. And when you eat the wrong fats and oils, your body becomes inflamed, which ultimately leads to more calories being shoveled into your fat cells, or adipocytes. The key, then, to effective weight loss is eliminating inflammatory factors from your diet.
It’s important to note that, despite being associated with many diseases, inflammation itself is not a disease – in fact, it’s a vital part of a healthy immune response. It protects you from bacterial and viral invaders and even cancer cells. The problem is one of balance: due to diet and lifestyle, our bodies can over-produce inflammatory chemicals, and we don’t get enough of the nutrients we need to reduce inflammation in the common Western diet.
How Pro-Inflammatory Omega-6 Fatty Acids Lead To Inflammation & Weight Gain
In just the past three decades, the human diet has changed drastically compared to how it has been historically. Total fat and saturated fat intake have decreased significantly while consumption of omega-6 fatty acids has increased and omega-3 fatty acid intake has decreased. This has resulted in an average Western diet consisting of an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 20:1, which is far, far different from the evolutionary ratio of 1:1. This change in fatty acid composition and ratios in the human diet parallels the massive increase in overweight and obese populations.
The increase in the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3s leads to an overall increase in the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chronic inflammation, and inflammatory diseases.
Inflammatory cytokines from chronic, low-grade inflammation are associated with future weight gain. And as you gain weight, fat cells become a source of inflammation. In obesity, adipose tissue recruits immune cells, causing inflammation that is thought to contribute to insulin resistance.
Omega-6 fatty acids increase cellular triglyceride content by increasing membrane permeability, whereas omega-3s reduce fat deposition, and these different fatty acids have different effects on pre-adipocyte differentiation (determining the type of fat cell it will become), with omega-6s inhibiting the browning process of white fat cells. White adipocytes store energy while brown adipocytes use energy by creating heat.
Recent studies have shown that perinatal exposure of mice to a high omega-6 fatty acid diet (similar to a Western diet) results in a progressive accumulation of body fat across generations, which is consistent with the fact that in humans, overweight and obesity have steadily increased in the last decades, and are emerging earlier in life.
This is not to say that all omega-6 fatty acids are universally bad. In fact, nuts and seeds contain a high amount of omega-6s and yet have been shown to reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, and are negatively associated with cardiovascular risk. You just must take care to keep a low omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
The biggest problem concerning omega-6s is the consumption of rancid, heated vegetable oils. Consuming heated vegetable oils is associated with cardiovascular risk by repeated heating that leads to lipid oxidation. Thermal oxidation yields new functional groups which are hazardous to cardiovascular health. Prolonged consumption of the repeatedly heated oil has been shown to increase blood pressure and total cholesterol, cause vascular inflammation as well as vascular changes which predispose to atherosclerosis.
On the other hand, several clinical studies have shown that decreasing the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio protects against chronic, degenerative diseases. One study showed that replacing corn oil with olive oil and canola oil to reach an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 4:1 led to a 70% decrease in total mortality.
So, how exactly do you balance your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and reduce inflammation?
- Eliminate any rancid, pressurized, heavily cooked, heated, and highly processed oils from your diet. Replace these with nutritious fats like olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, and other pastured animal fats.
- Eat whole, nutrient-dense foods with an emphasis on anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods, including vegetables, fruits (especially berries), high-fat fruits like avocados and olives, fatty fish, spices and tea.
- Eat plenty of cold water fatty fish or take a fish oil supplement.
There are a few other fat loss strategies that will also decrease inflammation.
Safe & Effective Fat Loss Approaches
1. Low Carb Diet
Low carb diets have been shown to reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity. Studies have shown that low carb diets result in more weight loss than low fat diets (often 2-3 times more), reduce hunger, reduce blood sugar and insulin, show greater improvements in blood triglycerides and HDL cholesterol, and report greater loss of harmful visceral fat. Your ideal carbohydrate intake will depend on your current health status, activity level, and whether you’re male or female. Low carb diets can range from 20 grams to 200 grams of carbohydrates per day. You can learn how to find your ideal macronutrient ration in the article Why Diets Fail & How To Determine The Perfect Diet For You.
Fasting reduces inflammation, improves circulating blood glucose and lipid levels, reduces blood pressure, and improves metabolic efficiency while reducing oxidative stress. Studies show that various different types of intermittent fasting protocols result in significantly greater fat loss than regular calorie restricted diets.
Common approaches to intermittent fasting include:
- The 16/8 Method: Fast for a period of 16 hours per day and eat during an 8-hour feeding window, such as by skipping breakfast and eating from 12pm-8pm.
- Periodic Fasting: Fast for a 24 hour period one to two times per week.
- The 5:2 Diet: Two days out of the week, eat only 500-600 calories per day. Eat normally the other five days.
3. Fasted Cardio
Here it is, explained in glorious simplicity. Wake up, and before you eat anything, do a brief aerobics exercise session. Do this while you’re still in a fasted state, which is going to allow your body to tap into its own fat as fuel. You can do this anywhere while doing anything. Walking the dog, going for an easy swim, or doing a yoga session at a local studio are all great options. Basically, anything that’s light and even conversational, that's low stress and not going to cause a big release of cortisol, and that's not going to completely exhaust you and make you feel famished will do the trick.
You can even enhance this morning aerobics session with two easy boosts. Number one is some form of caffeine, which mobilizes fatty acids and may help to convert them to other tissue types or empty them more quickly. Two great caffeine sources are green tea or just wholesome, organic coffee. Drink either of those or any natural caffeine source prior to doing your fasted workout. The second way is to sneak in some cold exposure by either taking a cold shower before or after your workout or by working out in a cold environment either by exercising outside or by swimming. You'll learn why cold will give you a boost below.
4. Cold Thermogenesis
Cold exposure has been shown to reduce inflammation, increase brown adipose tissue activity and energy expenditure, increase metabolism by 80% during cold exposure, increases adiponectin, a protein that increases fat burning with low levels being associated with obesity, and much more. This article gives a comprehensive overview of the benefits of cold thermogenesis and different ways you can implement it.
The easiest ways to benefit from cold exposure are by taking cold showers daily, sleeping in temperatures lower than 66 degrees, or wearing targeted ice packs by using a Cool Fat Burner vest. Bitter melon extract works synergistically with cold exposure to increase brown fat.
5. Control Blood Sugar & Insulin Levels
Type 2 diabetes rates rising, both in the United States and globally (even among athletes and so-called “healthy” people), but so are a host of other chronic disease, neural degradation and weight issues directly related to high blood sugar. Characterized by insulin resistance and chronic high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), type 2 diabetes can lead to both brain and metabolic dysfunction, and is also a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
When blood sugar is chronically elevated, the insulin released by the pancreas becomes progressively less effective in bringing those blood sugar levels down, and ultimately, pancreatic tissues begin to suffer damage (although some evidence shows this pancreatic damage can be reversed with specific lifestyle and food strategies). Although blood sugar can slightly rise in response to factors such as stress, hard exercise, or long periods of sedentary time, blood sugar typically rises most significantly after a meal, and studies show that these post-meal or “post-prandial” hyperglycemic spikes are the most likely to lead to vascular complications, even when compared to elevated fasting glucose levels.
When it comes to controlling high blood sugar, your body has two choices: get rid of the blood sugar as potential energy via uptake into muscles, or store the blood sugar in fat tissue.
Now, all of the above strategies will help to lower blood sugar and insulin levels, but there is one more secret weapon you’ll want to be aware of.
It all starts in two of the earth’s “blue zones” where people live to an incredibly long age in good health.
There are just a handful of true blue zones or longevity hotspots in the world. One is Bama County, located in western China on the slopes of the Himalayas. This place boasts at least 79 men and women over 100 years old and still very physically active out of a population of less than 230,000. Their ratio of 3.52 centenarians per 10,000 people is the highest found anywhere in the world. Bama County has a secret: their residents have the longest average lifespan of any other country in the world.
Amongst Japan’s many islands, the people of Okinawa are also the longest-lived. Okinawa also has a secret very similar to Bama County – and in both Bama County and Okinawa medical researchers have found that key foods play a significant role in the longevity of the inhabitants.
In Bama County, much credit is given to the daily consumption of a plant they call shilianhua, or “rock lotus”. In Okinawa, a role similar to that of rock lotus is filled by “wild bitter melon”. This is not the bitter melon commonly found in many vegetable markets, but a smaller and far more bitter version that grows wild (and the same plant you read about above that will help enhance your cold thermogenesis efforts). So what do the rock lotus and wild bitter melon have in common that promote optimal blood sugar levels and insulin response, that support healthy weight management, liver health, and longevity?*
The answer involves caloric restriction and insulin.
Only two mechanisms have been shown to be successful in promoting longevity in higher organisms. The first mechanism lowers the levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). The second mechanism restricts calories, which usually has, as one result, a lowering of circulating insulin levels. Rock lotus influences both of these mechanisms. According to a Jutendo Medical University of Japan clinical trial, rock lotus improves liver function and fatty liver. This action resembles that of compounds known to reduce insulin levels as an aspect of healthy blood glucose control. Rock lotus has also been found to be able to regulate glucose metabolism and maintain healthy insulin sensitivity in vitro and in vivo. Another study found that rock lotus reduced blood sugar levels, which causes a reduction in insulin levels and relief of diabetic symptoms. In fact, it can reduce blood sugar levels by up to 30%, helping people in China and elsewhere to take their health into their own hands.
Bitter melon, also known as “goya” in Japan, boasts even more powerful weight management properties.
Taxonomically known as Momordica charantia, bitter melon may be an effective alternative to biguanides from metformin in controlling blood sugar levels and regulating blood pressure. Although the precise mechanism by which it works (whether it’s through regulation of insulin release or altered glucose metabolism and its insulin-like effect) is not known, bitter melon naturally contains antidiabetic compounds like charantin, vicine, and polypeptide-p, plus some other health-boosting components like antioxidants.
Part of the reason bitter melon is so darn effective is likely its effect on GLP-1 secretion. GLP-1 is glucagon-like peptide-1, a peptide released from what are called L-cells, which increase in density along the length of the intestines. It helps to raise insulin levels as a part of the incretin effect, a hormonal response that effects insulin secretion following oral glucose ingestion. A study was done to examine the role of bitter melon extract in this process and found that through bitter taste receptors and/or a PLC β 2-signaling pathway, the melon stimulated GLP-1 release, which contributes, at least in part, to the antidiabetic activity of bitter melon through the incretin effect.
And there’s more.
Bitter melon, specifically a wild species called Momordica charantia Linn var. abbreviata ser., can also treat inflammation due to various diseases. Wild bitter melon and bitter melon extracts were used in a study to inhibit macrophage activity, which is a part of your natural immunological response to stress, disease, and tears in body tissues. The lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated macrophages that were targeted responded to both extracts, but especially to the wild variety of the melon, resulting in much-reduced inflammation.
As you may already know, insulin resistance is closely related to chronic inflammation induced by things like tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF- α), a compound that seeks out and destroys cancerous cells. But before jumping into the importance of TNF- α, you should memorize this chemical: triterpene 5β, 19-epoxy-25-methoxy-cucurbita-6.23-diene-3β, 19-diol – or, for short, EMCD. It’s purified from a wild species of bitter melon that was thought to activate AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which itself is thought to repress TNF- α-induced inflammation.
When it was tested alongside a compound extracted from green tea that’s also reported to be anti-inflammatory, EMCD showed more obvious anti-inflammatory activity, but not by activating AMPK. It actually inhibited the activation of the IkB kinase, an important aspect of pro-inflammatory signaling, and thus, the melon extract mitigated inflammation tied to diabetes. Since inflammation is connected to shorter life spans and greater risk of conditions like cardiovascular diseases, you should definitely look into adding wild bitter melon to your diet or supplement cabinet as an anti-inflammatory strategy too.
In short, rock lotus and bitter melon extract work better in combination than their isolated components. Both promote better blood sugar control with less insulin. Both promote healthy blood pressure. Both support healthy liver function. And both mimic changes in cellular energy metabolism typical of caloric restriction.
So how can you get your hands on the potent one-two combo of bitter melon extract and rock lotus?
Kion Lean is a proprietary formula designed to assist with weight management and healthy longevity by combining the benefits of rock lotus and Glycostat (wild bitter melon extract) to support:
- Healthy liver function
- Blood sugar regulation
- Healthy body fat levels
- Anti-aging factors associated with longevity
You can click here to try Kion Lean now to be used for both enhanced cold thermogenesis benefits and as an effective way to blunt the harmful effects of carbohydrate-rich meals.
Now that you know how inflammation can lead to weight gain and excess fat, why an optimal balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is important to health and fat loss, and five effective strategies for reducing both inflammation and body fat, you're ready to shred fat and become lean and mean!
Simply do the following:
- Reduce or eliminate your intake of rancid, heated, processed vegetable oils
- Eat whole foods
- Consume plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish or a fish oil supplement
- Implement any or all of these fat loss strategies: a low carb diet, fasting, fasted cardio, and cold thermogenesis
- Take Kion Lean before your largest, most carbohydrate-rich meal of the day and/or prior to cold exposure
And that's how you can easily lose fat without destroying your body!