Metabolism, Calories, Burn Fat…Oh My!

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If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, ‘Here we go, another calorie-burning article with “fads,” “diets” and “hoopla,”’ I wouldn’t blame you for it. It seems like there is a constant pressure to uphold an unattainable (or even unnatural) body image along with a constant barrage of “Extra! Extra! Read all about it! New diets and calorie burners delivered straight to your door from Amazon!” It’s exhausting. It feels like we have become trapeze artists balancing our vanity and our health, while also striving for self-confidence, happiness and a sustainable routine.

Take Grammy Award-winning artist Adele, for example, who started a weight loss journey in 2016 and proceeded to break the internet in 2020 with an Instagram photo exhibiting a healthier, leaner profile. She received mixed responses from her fan base in regards to body image, healthy weight loss and female beauty standards. Internet trolls even proceeded to shame her for losing weight, feeling more energetic on tour and for living a healthier, more active lifestyle. In response to her critics, Adele asserted that her message to the world was not about losing weight to look or feel beautiful, but rather, her message was (and continues to be) one about living a healthier lifestyle — one with less weight to move around every day, less risk for cardiovascular disease and more about drawing a connection between living healthy and instilling body confidence. I share the same goal in writing this piece. Healthy IS beautiful. Healthy IS strong. Healthy IS the future. And, without a doubt, nutrition and fitness routines play a huge role in supporting steady weight loss, but let’s not forget about other methods that can help support our metabolism, thyroid health, burn calories and conquer stubborn fat — naturally!

Old School: Simple Nutritional Tips

Keto, paleo, carnivore, vegan, pescatarian, low-carb, high-fat, Atkins, Mediterranean, intermittent fasting — many of us have heard these nutritional titles thrown around like a football at a tailgate. There are countless books and research articles supporting and debunking some of these nutritional ideologies, and it can be very confusing. But here are a few nutritional tips that may help simplify your viewpoint:

High Protein is Important.

Whether it is meat, fish, eggs or plant-based options like legumes, nuts or seeds, protein-rich foods increase TEF (thermic effect of food) by 15-30% as compared to 5-10% with carbs and 0-3% with fats. This means that your body will burn more calories to digest protein-rich foods. Not to mention, protein-rich foods are incredibly important for building and repairing muscle mass, which are vital to sustaining active fitness routines.

Caffeine & Capsaicin are Useful.

Studies have shown that doses of caffeine can result in an increase in metabolic rate. These studies were conducted while examining both coffee and tea. However, some individuals may not respond well to caffeine in higher doses, so please ease into this and definitely do not over-do it. Capsaicin, on the other hand, is a fantastic way to spice up your culinary routine (yup, another dad joke!) while also adding 50-100 more calories to burn through the day. Add some jalapenos or chili peppers in your breakfast or grilled meats and WHAM! Earn more calorie burn and face sweats!

Drink More Water!

After you are done reading this engaging issue of AFM, grab a half liter of water and drink. Drinking water creates an effect called “water-induced thermogenesis” and can result in a short-term metabolic boost of 30% for roughly 30-40 minutes following 500mL intake. Say it with me now: “Drink more water. Drink more water. Drink more water!”

And now, let’s talk about the good stuff: health and wellness treatments that not only help your body physically recover faster, but also boost the metabolism and support your hormones.

New School: Recovery Treatments that Also Support Healthy Weight Loss

Infrared Sauna: Heat-Induced Calorie Burn

Studies have shown that infrared sauna use for 30 minutes can induce an artificial thermogenesis by “heat shock” that will burn an additional 200-400 calories per session and may result in up to 1% fat loss per month over four months. Additionally, infrared saunas can help reduce stress and cortisol levels which can slow down your metabolism if left unchecked. Sweat it out in the sauna and relax knowing that your body is waving goodbye to those extra calories like Damian Lillard unapologetically waving goodbye to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2019 NBA playoffs.

Red Light Therapy: Hormone Heaven

As you may understand by now, weight loss (and even fat loss) is a much more nuanced discussion than just calories. It also depends on your sleep, stress and hormones. Red light therapy, from manufacturers like Joovv, helps you achieve more restorative sleep, reduce stress and balance hormones like ghrelin (stimulate appetite) and leptin (reduce appetite). Not to mention, red light therapy has been shown to improve thyroid hormone (T4) production in individuals with hypothyroidism. As a result, red light therapy may be able to help balance your stress and hormonal appetite and boost thyroid production to give your metabolism a little boost. #StepIntoTheLight.

Ice Baths: Cold-Induced Calorie Burn

As I mentioned in my recent article, DIY Ice Baths for Newbies, ice baths measured at 11-15°C for 11-15 minutes can decrease core body temperature and induce “cold thermogenesis.” Studies have shown that this method may boost your caloric burn by 200-300 calories per day, and I am all about this one! Get yourself into an ice bath, recruit a friend to do it with you (because it is way easier with a friend), focus on relaxing your breathing and calming your mind and chill to get that extra calorie burn.

As always, I endorse checking out local businesses here in Austin that have these resources for your use. Infrared saunas, Joovv red light therapy, and ice baths are out there at affordable rates for consistent treatment. Your body benefits and you help support small businesses, so it’s a win-win for everyone!

Now that we have reviewed more tried and true methods of aiding fat loss, boosting the metabolism and supporting healthy hormone and stress balance, let’s briefly review newer treatments aimed directly at stubborn fat loss removal and lymphatic drainage.

New, New, New School: Non-Invasive Contouring Methods

Cryolipolysis: Cryo T-Shock, Cryoskin and CoolSculpting

Freezing fat cells and disposing them out of your body via urine? It sometimes sounds too good to be true, but in reality, it surprisingly works well under the right conditions. Treatments like CoolSculpting were introduced into the U.S. market in the early 2010s, but more innovative and smoother contouring treatments, like Cryo T-Shock, have entered the market from Europe in the last few years with comparable results. The premise is simple: reduce temperatures of underlying subcutaneous adipose tissue (fat cells) to -2 to -4 degrees Celsius, and the fat cell undergoes natural cell death (“apoptosis”) and is then cleared out of the body via lymphatic drainage. These treatments work best for stubborn adipose tissue, like stubborn belly fat, on individuals who already have an established exercise and nutritional regimen. They are definitely not weight-loss devices, but they can help deliver that extra kick for tightening up the tummy if you would like to.

Lymphatic Drainage: Massage and Endosphères

The lymphatic system is highly overlooked as it pertains to holding water weight, reducing inflammation, supporting the immune system and eliminating toxins. Methods like lymphatic massage or cutting-edge treatments like Endosphères assist the body’s natural ability to flush excess fluids, toxins and inflammation out of the body. This results in a highly defined, even chiseled, abdominal and thigh region for a reasonable amount of time and may even have a profound effect of reducing the appearance of cellulite. When kept up on maintenance regimens, it may be a very relaxing and effective way to conquer random bloating, inflammation or lymphedema, while also retaining desired aesthetic results by simply improving your body’s natural lymphatic capabilities.

Whether you are invested in trying out the latest and greatest in body contouring innovation or content with simple nutritional tips, do your research and understand that everyone’s journey is different. At the end of the day, your body’s health matters most! Don’t lose sight of why we want to live healthier: more vitality and energy, more confidence, stronger muscles and bones, less risk of chronic disease — the list goes on. I hope you find these methods to be informative and helpful on your health and wellness journey! If you are absolutely stoked about this article and want to share your experience trying these methods out, make sure to tag @austinfit and me (@chase_performance). Cheers, y’all — summer is right around the corner and I am SO excited!

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