I’ll get into the secrets of becoming a better fat burner in a moment, but first, some perspective. Humans evolved to be lazy. We don’t like to admit that in this modern era, where our culture values doing and being ‘more,’ but the truth is, you wouldn’t be here today without lazy ancestors.
Back then food was harder to come by and you had to do more work to get it. It wasn’t as convenient as the drive-thru or even rolling your cart through aisles and aisles of caloric-offerings. Most hunter-gathers walked an average of 8-10 miles a day just to gather water, food, and medicines, so whenever they could, they took advantage of surpluses by lazing around. Visiting with community members, making art or crafts, even getting drunk or stoned. By reducing their activity, they reduced caloric expenditure and saved it for time when they might need it instead to save their lives. So if you have a hard time coming up with the willpower to go to the gym regularly- it’s not that you are lazy, its that you have your ancestor’s lazy genes.
Of course, this presents a problem in a modern age where we have ready access to whatever calories we want- without having to do any work to get them. Our bodies do what evolution shaped them to do- save those excess calories for leaner times to ensure our survival- but those leaner times never come, not really. So they keep saving and keep saving. We call this saving phenomenon ‘obesity’ and blame the individual for being ‘lazy’ instead of blaming our environment/society for capitalizing off of this adaptation.
So instead of trying to fight an uphill battle against your biology, how can you work with it to become a better fat burner and achieve a lean, fit physique healthfully and sustainably? Glad you asked!!! Here’s my simple, effective ‘Lazy’ Person’s Guide to Better Fat Burning.
- Sleep more. Research shows that if you are sleep deprived one night, you are more likely to crave and indulge in higher calorie, carbohydrate-dense foods the next day. Don’t know how to curb late night food cravings? Simple- GO TO BED earlier! You need the sleep to repair and restore your body anyway. Turn off the TV, put the phone down, and just go to sleep. Simple.
- Fast. Do you find it difficult to cook healthy food for your meals, especially on certain busy days of the week? Tempted to get take out or grab-and-go junk food on days like this? Here’s a simple solution: don’t eat on those days. I know it sounds crazy at first, but stay with me. If you go 12-16 hours without any calories, it stimulates a process called autophagy, where your cells will put their energy into cleaning up debris and repairing or replacing worn out proteins instead of digesting and assimilating nutrients from food. Periodic fasting of this nature has been associated with lower rates of cancer and dementia, most likely because of this very mechanism. Drink plenty of water on the day you fast, but consume no calories and no fake sugar beverages like diet drinks. Just water or herbal tea. The hunger is more mental than it is physical. This strategy works best if you eat a higher fat, lower carb diet on non-fasting days, so you may want to start there if you’re don’t eat that way already. Doing so helps your body become more adapted at utilizing fat stores for energy. That way when you fast, you dip into those excess fat stores for energy. Over time, fasting 1-2 days a week, you wittle down your fat stores and your pants size at the same time, all while letting your body to do the decluttering it needs. (Note: if you have reactive hypoglycemia or take certain medications like insulin, you need to be careful with this approach. Please work with a qualified health care professional who understand how to do this and can help you monitor your meds/blood sugar.)
- Slow down your exercise. Some where along the line, we adopted this misguided “no pain, no gain” philosophy of exercise, where if you aren’t leaving sweat angels on the floor beneath you it doesn’t ‘count’ somehow. The irony here is that your body is very bad at utilizing fat to fuel muscle work during intense exercise like this. You actually increase your percentage of fat utilization at lower, aerobic intensities- 55%-65% of your max heart rate. For most people, this is achievable by simply walking. The problem is, it takes time to walk as much as you need to in a day to starting seeing the benefit on a scale. (Remember the 8-10 miles a day your ancestor’s walked?) Because higher intensity exercise is anaerobic and relies on glycogen for fuel, it’s not the same thing to do a harder effort in less time. Certainly not if you’re goal is fat burning. Slow down your effort to a pace where you can comfortably and quietly breath through your nose to increase fat utilization.
- Move more throughout the day. So how does a modern human move the equivalent of 8-10 miles a day at a slow, aerobic, fat-burning pace? Well, you’re going to have find more ways throughout the day. Instead of coffee dates or meetings, have walking meetings. Use headphones to walk while on a conference call or other phone call. Park a few blocks from the playground or soccer fields and walk the rest of the way. Rely less on machines or tech for food processing and do more by hand. Functional movements like these don’t seem like they would fit a ‘lazy’ person’s guide to becoming a better fat burner, but given a choice, would you rather walk more throughout that day or face a beat-down, sweat session each day that in the end isn’t getting you closer to goal anyway?
- Natural movement training. Practicing a system of natural movement like MovNat is fun way to get more strength, more mobility and improve your physique without feeling worn out, beat down or injured all the time. The low intensity, constant movement favors fat oxidation for fueling. Building lean muscle mass through bodyweight exercises increases your metabolism at rest without getting too big/bulky/imbalanced. Best of all, these movements are directly transferrable to every day life.
And there you have it, folks. The Lazy Person’s Guide to Becoming a Better Fat Burner. Sleep more, fast occasionally, and move slower with more emphasis on function than just calorie burn. Now go be lazy, be lean and be well.