how to burn fat
Body, Fat Loss

Lean and Mean: How To Burn Fat Fast Without Destroying Your Body

how to burn fat

“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…

…dead wrong.

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 how to burn fat efficiently.

But we all know that 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:

“Move more.”

“Eat less.”

“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 learning how to burn fat, 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.

It’s inflammation.

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 learn how to burn fat and 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 the 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.


How To Burn Fat Safely & Effectively

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.

2. Fasting

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 more on how to burn fat with cold and how cold exposure 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.

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 product like the 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 are 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.

For supporting healthy blood sugar levels, there is one 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. 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 also be an effective way to control 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 hypoglycemic 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.

Bitter melon, specifically a wild species called Momordica charantia Linn varabbreviata ser., has also been shown to support your body's response to inflammation. Wild bitter melon and bitter melon extracts were used in a study to inhibit macrophage activity. The lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated macrophages that were targeted responded to both extracts, but especially to the wild variety of the melon.

Impressive on their own, rock lotus and bitter melon extract work even better together. 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? 

Simple: they're the two main ingredients in the brand new formula now available as Kion Lean, a proprietary formula designed to assist with weight management and healthy longevity by combining the benefits of rock lotus and 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 for both enhanced cold thermogenesis benefits and as an effective way to blunt the harmful effects of carbohydrate-rich meals. 


Summary

Now that you know how to burn fat safely and effectively, 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 inflammation, 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 burn fat without destroying your body!

33 thoughts on “Lean and Mean: How To Burn Fat Fast Without Destroying Your Body

  1. What do you say to deep frying food in extra virgin coconut oil? Would this lead to inflammation as the vegetable ois

    1. Team Kion says:

      Extra virgin coconut oil is a great option for deep frying, assuming you digest saturated fats relatively well. That’s not to say that you should be deep frying everything all the time, but if you’re going to deep fry, coconut oil and avocado oil are excellent options that won’t cause the same inflammatory response as canola or soy oils.

  2. Great advise as always. I am curious if there is a difference in effectiveness of those techniques based on body fat percentage? I noticed while I just had to “eat less and move more” when I was close to 30 percent body fat, it simply doesn’t cut it anymore once I approach single digit body fat percentage. Thank you.

    1. Team Kion says:

      There are several factors that play into this… Typically when you’re at a higher body fat percentage it corresponds with higher calorie diets that often include unhealthy fats, processed sugars, etc. Simply eliminating these foods helps to eliminate inflammation and create caloric deficits necessary for weight loss and fat burning. Utilizing a few of the strategies outlined in the article could be great complements.

  3. Justin Swenson says:

    Hi Ben. I have the FTO rs1421085(C;T) gene, and in addition to being the obesity gene, it also says that I have decreased thermogenesis. Does this mean that my 2-3 minute ice-cold morning shower is not beneficial? Or just less beneficial? I am pretty lean for the most part but don’t want to do it if I am not getting anything out of it.

    How long before a cold shower (or cold exposure in general) do you recommend taking bitter melon extract?

    Thanks for all you do Ben!!

    1. Team Kion says:

      It is best taken an 1-2 prior to cold thermogenesis… Important to note that having decreased thermogenesis is different from having none, and that CT has many benefits associated with it that go beyond just burning fat, including: improving deep sleep, helping to support hormone regulation, acts as an anti-inflammatory, etc

  4. Jenny says:

    Are fasted easy movement sessions, such as an easy conversational run, one or two times a week good for lean females? I know fasting can be stressful on lean, athletic females’ hormones but wanted to find out if easy session suggested above would be good for lean, athletic females. Thank you.

  5. Jenny says:

    Do you recommend the fasted easy workout with black coffee for lean females? I was thinking of trying this on my easy run days. RIght now, I have a coffee with a bit of steamed almond mile and cinnamon, which I love, before my workouts. However, I could change this to black coffee on the easy run days if it would be helpful. After the run, I do weights but could have a small snack before that. What do you think?

  6. rose090999 says:

    Just ordered Kion Lean- thanks Ben

  7. Dan Turner says:

    Thank you for more great knowledge. I always learn something every time I read your articles.

  8. Matthew Alloy says:

    I have been doing H.I.T. workouts first thing in the morning , I take fish oil ,MCT,& coffee-green tea right before, Am I Destroying Your Body ?

    1. Tyson says:

      From what Ben wrote, you’re best to avoid food a.k.a the mct or fish oil, I believe because it causes an insulin response and will prevent your body from burning fat in the “fasted state”. I always have two cups of Kion Coffee and then do a 30 minute run, Having fasted from about 2pm the day before. Chews through the “problem” stomach fat in my experience.

      1. Sung Yun Cho says:

        MCT or fish oil do not cause insulin response because they are fat. It’s carbs and protein that do. Just fat can keep our body in autophagy. However, if you are trying to burn fat, I would stay away from MCT oil. You should always take fish oil with food when you break the fast for better absorption.

    2. Leo Garcia says:

      You don’t need fish oil or MCT. Caffeine certainly helps if you are doing bursts in a fasted state.

      https://nutritionfacts.org/2018/02/20/the-risks-of-fish-oil-supplements/

  9. Dale says:

    Would 3 minutes in a cryo chamber satisfy the cold exposure necessary to be effective? 2 hours after workout?

    Are the cold vests effective, and for how long?

    At one point there was a vacuum chamber your hand that was supposed to get your core body temperature lower? Are you familiar? Would that be effective?

    Should I just increase my exercise intensity as I get in better shape? Thank you.

    1. Team Kion says:

      Hi Dale, Cryotherapy is great, but cold-water immersion beat it out when the two were compared in this study.

      And yes, cold vests are an effective form of thermogenesis when worn 1.5-2 hours.

      Not really sure about the vacuum chamber you’re referring to, sorry.

      While it depends on your health and level of fitness, increasing exercise intensity is a great way to challenge yourself and continue to get in even better shape.

      Questions like these are great to also post to the Kion Community. It’s a completely free online community of like-minded people who both have advice and are seeking advice! Facebook.com/groups/getkion/

  10. charles says:

    Ben,

    For the fasted cardio session would drinking bulletproof coffee (with the MCT possibly butter or not) oil be benifical or just straight coffee?

    Thanks

    1. Team Kion says:

      Straight, black coffee.

  11. Jim says:

    Would this benefit someone that has been keto for a while? At that point trying to get that last bit fat off. Thanks.

    1. Team Kion says:

      We think so, Jim. Please try a bottle, and let us know what you think by leaving a review!

  12. Allison says:

    Does roasting vegetables (at 400 deg F) in one of the three oils make the food inflammatory?

    1. Team Kion says:

      Food cooked with more stable oils like palm and coconut, or even butter, will be far less inflammatory than the polyunsaturated oils. I would save the olive oil for salad dressings.

  13. Sean Galla says:

    This is a GREAT summary Ben! Thanks to you & Kion! <3

  14. Chris Watts says:

    Thanks for the ecellent info on fat loss. Simple and effective. I should move from HK to Washington state then.

  15. cheryl says:

    In part of your earlier trainings, I was under the assumption that the cold showers wouldn’t work as effectively,
    if one was in an inflammatory state, and that they’d be more effective when not, correct?

    1. Team Kion says:

      Hi Cheryl, Thank you for your comment. I believe what you’re referring to is when Ben suggested that cold exposure immediately following a workout could blunt some of the natural, positive, inflammatory processes. Because of this we recommend waiting a couple of hours following an intense workout before exposing your body to cold.

  16. Michael 'The Socratic Warrior' Martin says:

    Another fantastic article! A couple short questions…
    My freezer is (fortunately) full of venison and elk! How many times per week, or in what ratio, do you suggest I eat these very lean forms of meat compared to fish and poultry? Also, what’s your ‘go to’ way to prepare big game?
    Next, how ‘cold’ should I be while exercising in the cold? I mean, I live about 30 miles north of Spokane, and even though it’s ‘cold’ out, if I wear my ‘cold’ weather hunting or mountaineering gear, I stay pretty warm…know what I mean?
    Thanks in advance…I think I’ll treat myself to some Kion Lean!

  17. Neil Mclaren says:

    My largest carb rich meal is post strength training, is Kion lean a good idea under those circumstances?

    1. Team Kion says:

      Yep! To support normalized blood sugar and insulin levels, take 1-2 capsules prior to your largest meal of the day or your highest carbohydrate containing meal of the day.

  18. Sarah says:

    How long do you need to do the cold shower (or cold component) for?
    How long should the walk (as the exercise) be?
    Should it be brisk or leisurely?

    1. Team Kion says:

      Hi Sarah, 5-10 minutes for a shower, I would recommend reading the linked article in the “cold thermogenesis” section above for more information though. Length and intensity of exercise depends on each individual person. Basically, anything that’s light, low stress and that’s not going to completely exhaust you (Think brisk walk or jog, leisurely swim, or a yoga class.).

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