There is really only 1 way to lose fat, and it is not through exercise. Realistically speaking, the most direct and simple solution to lose fat is by changing how your body responds to food. In other words, your goal to store lesser fat and burn more fat can only be achieved by encouraging your body to use fat. In technical terms, you are trying to decrease insulin activity in your body. Insulin is key here. It is a hormone that stores blood sugar (usable forms of all carbohydrates within the body) into your fat cells. Hence, you are limiting foods that raises blood sugar unnecessarily.
I'll break this method down into three different strategies. These 3 strategies are ranked by difficulty and effectiveness.
- Dinner Carbs - eliminate all carbohydrates at night. This includes sweets, fruits and everything else starchy/sugary.
Difficulty level - entry level. This is easy to adapt, because you can still have your breakfast bagel, lunch sandwich and even an afternoon candy bar. Skipping dinner carbs won't feel like much. The hard part is keeping up with it for more than several months, which is unrealistic since most people get tempted into eating those delicious carb meals during a dinner outing or with beer.
Effectiveness - Fair. The strategy is not easy for no reason. You should have a slight, not drastic, drop in body weight within 2 weeks, but it is not durable for the long run, as your body can still source out other types of fuel easily and adapts to it. You end up storing less fat, but you do not burn more fat as energy. An equilibirum in body weight and fat composition is reached within months.
- Carb Free - eliminate all carbohydrates. This includes all sugary, starchy, fruity and even low-carb drinks (i.e. beer) during all parts of the day.
Difficulty level - intermediate. It's not too hard to stick to protein, fats and veggies since you get the side benefit of feeling quite light and less-groggy, especially after a carb-free meal. You also lose weight very quickly within weeks. The weightloss is noticeable up to several months, but it's important to be realistic and undertand that human determination can only go so far.
Effectiveness - unrealistic and not durable. Even the most determined person will give up due to the incredibly diverse amount of tasty carbohydrate rich foods out there. It is simply not in our nature to be carb-free for life. Also, if you fall off the carb-free wagon, the rebound effect is disastrous and you may end up weighing more than when you started. Hence, the effectiveness of this strategy is low and limited. Yet, it is a great spring board to leap into the 3rd strategy. See why below.
- Timed Fast - eat anything, but only within a certain window of time per day. Do this everyday. For example, you'd eat within a 4 to 6 hours window, and not ingest anything but liquids (water, coffee, tea) for the rest of the day.
Difficulty level - high. But far from impossible. The biggest challenge is to fight the urge to eat for the first few days as your body has to be sugar-starved for most of the day. This is where your determination and willpower needs to kick in, but you won't have to depend on it for too long, as it is quite natural for human beings to feed once per day. Thus, making it a more realistic solution than going carb-free. One thing to note is for those who have attempted and already adpated to a no-carb diet, fasting will be easier to handle since they have gotten very used to operating with a lower average of blood sugar.
Effectiveness - great, but only if you can jump the hurdles of adapting to the diet. Often, you'll need a few other incentives to continue the diet and to make it a realistic solution. For example, skipping breakfast adds more to your precious sleep time. Or, skipping lunch to save a few bucks or to avoid the hassle of fighting the lunchtime rush. Lastly, for those who are highly industrious, you power through the day without having to deal with food coma and energy crashes - you increase your work efficiency.
Reward - on a timed fast diet, the body has no choice but to break down fat cells (from the body) for fuel because it is starved of any other readily-available fuel for energy. Once you have gotten more used to the feelings of hunger, which comes in waves that lasts a few minutes (perhaps once every 2-3 hours), it is still possible to work an 8 hour day, and still go to the gym and carry out a moderate workout. The human body is more capable than we're led to believe! The best part? Food tastes so much better on that first bite after a long day of fasting, and you can eat anything you want. Anything!
So the main idea here is to keep all unnecessary insulin activity to its lowest. Some people are great at going cold turkey and full speed into a timed fast routine. Other's may need to take a more regimented approach and start with eliminating dinner carbs. There is no perfect way, but if you can figure out what works best with your lifestyle, preference for food and current health condition, then I hope the above method has provided you with the tools to effectively control your body weight and body fat composition.